THE latest episodes in the farcical soap opera The House of Commons and Brexit leave me with a deep-seated fear that the Remainers are about to get their way regardless of the 2016 referendum.
While I appreciate that no one likes to be on the losing side of anything, the majority of those who showed enough interest to vote for Brexit won and everyone else didn’t. That’s how it was – and that’s how it is.
Maybe if more people had bothered to exercise their democratic right in such a momentous decision the result of the referendum might have turned out differently, but they didn’t.
None of any of that gives those who didn’t agree with the result the right to demand a repeat of the process so they can change the outcome. Last week’s dog-and-pony show in the Commons, and which resumed yesterday, seems to be steering us down that road regardless of the referendum vote, and I fear Theresa May will come up with some Parliamentary excuse to justify the fact that, despite what she said ad nauseam, Brexit no longer means Brexit.
I don’t for a moment accept the specious argument that we now know more about what the results might be for the country, and therefore we should be given a second chance to decide whether that is what we want or not. We already voted and the majority of people chose to leave – regardless of the consequences which they felt were better than those of staying in.
Despite the efforts of Remainers to turn the vote into a debate on immigration policy, most people I have spoken to voted to leave with an eye to regaining control of our democracy and of our finances, and to become, once again, an independent island nation that millions have fought and died to defend during the course of our history.
It was also somewhat amazing to me to hear the self-righteous claims from various MPs that they wanted their constituents to have the right to vote again now they knew more than they did back in 2016.
When vast numbers of concerned people lobbied their MPs over pending legislation in ‘right to life’ areas – abortion, euthanasia etc – MPs weren’t particularly concerned then about the opinions of their constituents. But now suddenly they are when it suits their purpose concerning Brexit. On this occasion we were given the opportunity to decide – are MPs going to ignore us again because in their arrogance they think they know better and we don’t?
Another argument heard this past week under the heading “clutching at straws” – and this on the very day that we were told we would be leaving the EU but didn’t – was that an extension to the process of leaving would give MPs more time to come up with a proposal that would ensure an orderly Brexit.
It wasn’t as if March 29 suddenly sneaked up on them; they had already had over 1,000 days to come up with a workable policy but had failed to do so as a result of putting petty party politics before the national interest. Arrogance again.
What is it with our society these days that being late has become so endemic, even epidemic, and, worse still, socially acceptable? People are late for flights delaying other passengers and costing the airline money; people are late for shows and films and football matches; brides are late for their weddings; people are late for appointments; the “6:30 for 7” mentality governs when meetings begin and still people arrive late. And so our MPs had nearly three years to get Brexit sorted but didn’t.
The day after the result of the referendum was known we should have walked – things couldn’t have been any worse. We keep hearing reference to “the divorce settlement” – no divorce is ever settled like this. And MPs are now daring to suggest that we might end up not leaving the EU at all(!) – a “divorce settlement” where the couple is forced against their will to continue living together regardless of the fact that they can’t stand the sight of each other.
And can you imagine for one moment what the reaction of the rest of the EU would be if we come crawling back, cap-in-hand, saying “We’ve changed our mind, we’d like to come back. We didn’t really mean any of the things we said and we’d like everything to carry on as if none of it ever happened”? Yeah right. We’d never be able to hold our heads up in Brussels again.
Seventeen million people in the UK voted to leave the EU three years ago, why are we still waiting? The other 15 million… well sorry, but that’s how it goes. And the SNP and the DUP should be reminded which side their croissants are buttered on.
Neil McNicholas is a parish priest in Yarm.