These are the only two ways Boris Johnson can escape his Brexit crisis – Bernard Ingham

NOW that Parliament has tied itself and the Prime Minister up in legal knots, with utter contempt for the public who want Brexit sorted, I shall try to bring some historical perspective to this unparalleled political chaos.

It has been a long time in the making – just like Speaker Bercow’s bowing to the inevitable consequence of his bias.

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The seeds of decay were germinated in the 1960s. Standards based on an understanding of human nature then began to decay. Restraint was progressively throttled in the name of freedom. Refinement was mocked.

Boris Johnson returns to 10 Downing Street as his plans for Brexit, and an early election, remain thwarted by Parliament.

It would have been progress if only unearned privilege had been replaced by earned respect and a greater sense of equality of opportunity and responsibility.

Instead, liberties were committed in the name of equality such as the dumbing down now still rife in education.

Speakr John Bercow's handling of Brexit proceedings continues to divide opinion.

Comprehensive schools may be okay in theory but in practice they have denied many talented working class children the full flowering of their capabilities.

And, of course, industrial anarchy reigned. We recorded nearly 26,000 strikes costing 128 million working days in the 1970s.

Margaret Thatcher, from a corner shop in Grantham that Michael Heseltine so despises, sought to turn the tide. With her strict, non-conformist upbringing she reformed industrial relations, liberated enterprise and managed, in spite of heavy unemployment, to help many council tenants and ordinary folk own their own home and shares.

Boris Johnson during his speech to police recruits in Wakefield last week.

Hard work, sound economics and a new national pride flourished for a time. And, to be fair, John Major and Kenneth Clarke at least perpetuated her housewifely economics so that they left Tony Blair and Gordon Brown a budget surplus.

But it was not to last. Of course, the law still keeps militant unions in check as long as Jeremy Corbyn and his mob are kept out of No 10. But Brown left a budget deficit of £153bn which we are still paying off 10 years later.

Within a few years of Mrs Thatcher being slung out of office by her party, we began to surrender ever more power to the European Union through the Maastricht Treaty. And so the federalist die that Mrs Thatcher tried to resist was cast.

If the truth be told, the UK has always been split over EU membership. It divided two-to-one in favour in the 1975 referendum and democratic respect for that majority survived a cavalier EU approach to democracy, the euro, a European Central Bank and ever more
EU pretence at foreign and defence
policy whatever the risks to Nato, the
real deterrent to Vladimir Putin’s ambitions.

Over and above all this, we had the
Blair and Brown governments setting
a bad example in the honourable
conduct of affairs. Witness the Iraq war and their unprincipled media manipulation.

In short, the UK government’s ability to govern has been steadily eroded by Brussels – as Mrs Thatcher warned it could be in her Bruges speech in 1988 – while, at the same time, trust in and respect for politicians has fallen off a cliff, helped by exploitation of their expenses allowance.

The result is a Parliament hamstrung by its contradictions, presided over by a biased, preening and self-regarding Speaker now on his way out; a Government unable to govern; a Prime Minister battling for the majority against Europhile treachery; and an Opposition for whom logic and consistency count for nothing – as you would expect from a bunch of Trots.

Not to mention the preposterous Scot Nats who want independence from Britain but subservience to Brussels.

The concepts of national pride, observance of decisions democratically reached, loyalty to a cause and an elected leadership, honour and moderation are sadly lacking.

And all the while political discussion, if such it can be described, is routinely conducted in barrack room style. Crudity rules. Tolerance and respect flew out of the window as the anti-social media, as I describe it, blew in.

So did a sense of humour. Indeed, I wonder whether it has become extinct.

As an ex-No 10 press secretary who has been called all the names under the sun, I am not a sensitive soul. Nor do I kid myself that politics is ever a genteel business.

Just think of the Bevanite rebellion, Harold Macmillan’s “night of long knives”, the CND machinations, the “winter of discontent”, Tory treatment of Mrs Thatcher and Major and the inconceivable election of Corbyn as Labour leader.

As things stand, only two things can bring progress: an unwonted display of responsibility by Brussels or a general election. No, not another referendum. They are ignored if they produce the wrong answer.