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Expert View

Brexiters sound desperate. They fear giving people say

by David Hannay | 25.01.2019

David Hannay is a member of the House of Lords and former UK ambassador to the EU and UN.

Alarm and despondency is clearly growing in Brexiter ranks over the way the public and parliamentary debate on Brexit is moving. How else to explain the extraordinary silliness, and indeed impropriety, of some of the responses they are canvassing in the press? Below are a few examples.

Prorogue Parliament until the March 29 deadline has passed

This suggestion, from Jacob Rees-Mogg, to shut down Parliament until our Brexit departure day is, of course, an outright play for the UK to leave without a deal. It would make it impossible for Parliament to fulfil the requirement in last year’s EU Withdrawal Act that a deal has to be approved by the House of Commons before it can be ratified and come into effect. Removing Parliament from the equation when one of the most important decisions about the country’s future needs to be taken would amount to a reversal of several hundred years of constitutional evolution.

Advise the Queen not to give her assent

The target here is any act, passed by both Houses, which rules out no deal, or extends the March 29 deadline or requires another referendum. That too would reverse several hundred years of constitutional evolution. And dragging the Queen into this essentially political dispute is an appalling suggestion.

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

Click here to find out more

Filibuster in the House of Lords

This suggestion aims to frustrate any piece of legislation emerging from the Commons which delays Brexit day, stops leaving without a deal or provides for a referendum. The Lords does not do filibusters, although there have been occasions in recent years when it has come close to it. On every such occasion the temptation has, quite rightly, been resisted. And, as a self-regulating House, the Lords would be perfectly capable of preventing a filibuster if anyone was so unwise as to try to mount one.

Simply ignore the views of a majority in the Commons

Plenty of experts in the intricacies of parliamentary procedure can called in to point out the lack of legal force for these views. But what is Brexit meant to be about? It is meant to be about reversing the pooling of sovereignty in the EU and restoring Parliament’s sovereignty as it was before we joined. A rather odd way of doing that, surely?

Brandish vague threats of social unrest

Arguments of betrayal and “the will of the people” being thwarted are growing louder. This doctrine led to the worst excesses of the French Revolution. And is it really credible? After all 700,000 people from all corners of the country marched through the streets of London last October calling for another referendum and not a pane of glass was broken, even though a counter demonstration was mounted alongside it.

All this thrashing about only demonstrates one thing. The Brexiters are scared. Scared of the people being given a say. And scared that a majority might decide, having seen the implications of leaving clearly defined, as was not the case in 2016, that this was a worse option than staying in the EU.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

9 Responses to “Brexiters sound desperate. They fear giving people say”

  • It is interesting how all these disparate attempts to avoid a People’s vote are quite clearly unconstitutional and demonstrate how really undemocratic these hardline Brexiters are.

    After all the whole basis of parliamentary democracy is to give the electorate at regular intervals the possibility of changing its mind. But Brexiters don’t believe that this should apply to referenda ?

  • It might seem a bit counter intuitive, but maybe before pushing for the People’s vote, a vote to sound out the strength of feeling for a “No Deal Brexit” would be informative. I suspect it wouldn’t get more than 100 votes, and it would become much more difficult to say it had any mandate whatsoever, as the 2016 doesn’t justify such an extreme interpretation. It might shut up the endless string of MPs and celebrities who appear in interviews saying its just fine and getting away with it with impunity.

  • The ERG are also using provacative and inflammatory language. Bone shouts at his opponents in interviews but comments to the BBC by Mark Francois today are a disgrace. Apparently he will not be bullied by ‘the Germans’. His father did not surrender to ‘the Germans’ at D Day and he will not be ‘surrendering’ either. He should be sanctioned for using racist language, This is the language of the English Defence League not an MP. He is inciting hatred. Isn’t there a law against this sort of language. He is a clown and an arrogant big head.

  • I am a committed remainer though less certain about a second referendum which I still refuse to call a “peoples vote”. The point of this reply is to say that I am tired of hearing all this talk of “constitutional crisis” “unconstitutional behavior” “threat to the constitution” etc. ad nauseum. We don’t have a constitution folks, what we have is a long and complex set of conventions all relying on precedent and non actually enforceable in law. An unwritten constitution isn’t worth the paper it isn’t written on.

  • I agree with David Quinn. This is such a monumental event for us and for the EU that as a country we should be really certain that we actually want to leave. I’m very much a remainer but, impartially speaking, we should have another vote to make certain.

    And dont use the best out of three argument. That’s nonsense. Democracy means we could change our minds.

    The result was actually about poverty I believe. It was the wrong place to make that heard. General election would have been much better. Austerity hitting you? Then vote Labour or Lib Dems.

    It’ll be even worse with no deal. I fear mass exodus of jobs and companies. I think we could see the unification of Ireland. I think we could ultimately see Scotland having another referendum to leave the UK and actually leave this time . And then they will try and join the EU. And I fear those worst hit by poverty and austerity will be hit a lot harder especially if the Tories remain in power. They really are the nasty party.

    But Jacob Rees Mogg says we will be OK in 50 years. Why would we do that then? It’s crazy and stupid. We are OK now but have the wrong party in power. Corruption is also a big issue. Russian interference, leave campaign breaking the rules, lucrative shipping company contracts to pizza based companies with fake websites whose login screen diverts you to Google? You can see why a lot of the Tories are so keen. This stinks to high heaven and it seems unstoppable unfortunately. I sincerely hope not. We are all being played and lied to by the Tories who only have their best interests at heart.

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg has invested not one penny in the UK. All his investments are in Russian banks, some of which are directly controlled by the Kremlin. Why has no-one actually put two and two together ? The ghastly Banks person also has links to Russia (which are under investigation right now). Again, why hasn’t the penny dropped ?

  • I am afraid that the wealthy liars (Mogg/Bad Johnson/IDS/Bone/Banks/ Brady/Farage/Davis/ Patel/Braverman/and all the other little sycophants McVey/Davies and lesser Journalists employed by the Telegraph/Mail/ Express /Sun plus lazy dozy Tory MPs are being listened to by ‘the great unwashed’ as they are referred to by the Establishment, and that means a real division in the voting pattern. The working class can outvote the upper class every day of the week but they do not. Why ? The answer is contained in the above message.

  • This article states what is now becoming obvious to all but those who won’t open their eyes to see, or their ears listen to common sense.

    There are so many flaws in the argument that the people have spoken and the result of the 2016 must be honoured.
    The evidence is now overwhelming that leaving the EU will make individuals poorer. It will risk businesses moving away from the UK and relocating. This mean the individuals who work for these businesses will end up losing their jobs.

    What was a protest vote for millions (not the hard right wingers who think that falling of a cliff edge will be okay) and that protest is now coming home to roost. Even Digby Jones who first said the fall out from a no deal Brexit would be minimal is now saying that the nation and individuals will be poorer.

    The point I’ve made on several occasions is that democracy is not STATIC. We don’t have a vote then say that’s it, there is no need for any more votes! We’re done with voting. Leave it be.

    Democracy is DYNAMIC. In the light of new evidence it’s not unreasonable that the people who can vote in the UK can be asked once more if this path should be continued.

    In the case of a referendum we can’t keep asking the public’s opinion. Leave voters should welcome the opportunity to test public opinion again. If they’re right then they will win. If they’re wrong and people vote against leaving the EU then that’s fine too. At least we will have tested it and found out if it’s what people want.