Bill Carmichael: Why MPs won’t be forgiven for defying voters over Brexit

OK, what happens now? After the confusion and chaos of the last few days the people of Britain are entitled to ask their elected representatives: “What exactly is the plan?”

Parliament remains deadlocked over Brexit.
Parliament remains deadlocked over Brexit.

The short answer is that there isn’t one – at least not one a majority of MPs can agree on. In its place we have an unedifying spectacle of squabbling incompetence mixed with an unhealthy dose of what is increasingly looking like downright treachery.

First this week MPs emphatically
voted down Theresa May’s Brexit deal for the second time of asking – the only deal on offer, incidentally – by a 149-vote majority.

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A day later, in scenes of unprecedented chaos, MPs voted to reject a “no-deal” scenario – thereby removing any incentive for the EU to compromise.

So in a few short days MPs have blocked the Prime Minister’s deal, and then effectively blocked any attempts to improve that deal.

This could be absolutely fine if there was a viable alternative plan – but there isn’t.

Now MPs are considering kicking
the can down the road even further
by delaying Brexit from anything
from a couple of months to a couple of years.

And, of course, a significant number of diehard Remainer MPs from both Conservative and Labour parties are determined to defy the will of the people by scrapping Brexit all together.

But what is the point of that? It won’t solve the fundamental problems that led to the Leave vote in first place, and it certainly won’t heal the divisions that have opened up in our country. It will only completely destroy faith in our democracy and make the bitterness infinitely worse.

Let us never forget that MPs voted overwhelmingly – by 316 votes to 53 – in 2015 to hand over the decision over whether we leave or remain in the EU to the British people in a referendum.

In a leaflet delivered at vast expense to every household, the Government said this was a “once in a generation decision” and went on to promise: “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.”

The British people took our politicians at their word and turned out in vast numbers in the biggest exercise of participatory democracy in British history.

They defied an overwhelmingly Remainer government, Parliament, cultural elite and the scaremongering of Project Fear to deliver a decisive Leave vote.

That should have been that. We had been asked to vote and promised that what we decided would be delivered. End of.

When asked again, in the 2017 General Election, voters delivered an even
more emphatic result with more than 84 per cent of them backing pro-Brexit parties.

But, of course, the political establishment absolutely hated the result and were determined right from the start to do everything in their power to sabotage the negotiations and somehow reverse or ignore the referendum decision.

That is why the negotiations have proved so fraught and difficult – half of the home team have been playing for the away side and happily scoring own goals whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Their plan now is to delay Brexit and force the people to vote again – and again, again and again if necessary – until we come up with a Remain result that the establishment elite deems acceptable.

We simply can’t let them get away with this. Public confidence in our politics is already at historically low ebb. If the political class is allowed to steal Brexit from under the noses of the people it will unleash a crisis that will make our current problems look like tea with the vicar.

The tragedy of all this is that the economic fundamentals look strong and there is every indication that the UK would, once free of the moribund EU, flourish even more.

For example on Wednesday Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered an upbeat Spring Statement and revealed that because of the ‘jobs miracle’ and growing tax receipts he had and extra £26bn to spend on public services.

Indications are that Mrs May will put her deal to a Commons vote for the third time next week, with a slim but growing chance it could be passed.

If MPs let this opportunity to
restore Britain’s independence slip through their fingers, they will never be forgiven.