Monday, 11 July 2016

And Tories accuse the EU of being undemocratic!

The appearance of a conspiracy to enthrone Theresa May as Conservative party leader (and thus as prime minister) along the lines of this article is very much there. If I were a Conservative member, I would be spitting tacks over the denial of my right to vote on the way the party should be led post-referendum in parliament and into the next election.

More importantly, Mrs May has stated her resistance to a general election before the scheduled date of May 2020. Now, I have long been a traditionalist in that electors in each constituency put into parliament a man or woman to exercise judgment on their behalf. MPs decide who is or is not capable of carrying out the job of government and should be allowed to get on with it. We elect them on a prospectus for five years and only if they find that parliament is unworkable should they come back to the country. Thus I refused to join in the clamour for a general election when Brown succeeded Blair, especially since the differences between them were purely personal and that Brown simply continued the New Labour programme the country had voted for in 2005. Nor am I a believer in the Great Leader theory of politics.

However, the EU referendum has created a unique situation. David Cameron announced beforehand that he would agree to be bound by the referendum vote. This in itself was a dangerous break with our constitutional conventions. By all means state that the government would be guided by the referendum if there were to be a sizeable majority of all those eligible to vote, but to capitulate in advance to a simple majority, however slim, of those voting predictably led to the creeping disaster which we now face.

So the House of Commons which was overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU is now expected to debate and vote on measures to leave it. Mrs May asserted her support for Mr Cameron's line on Europe (though I always suspected she had her fingers crossed behind her back as she did so, judging by her antagonism to the European Convention on Human Rights) and has only since the vote said that there is no going back from Brexit. The majority of her colleagues were elected on the same official Conservative premise.

Surely the country is entitled to a fresh House of Commons which would either sincerely carry out the will of the people (as Brexiters would see it) or repudiate what was a rogue poll of people, unaware of the effects on their standard of living, deceived by vested interests (as Remainers would see it)? The alternative is for this parliament to stagger on for another four years, attacked for its lack of legitimacy by all sides.


Stan said...

I just can't swallow the conspiracy theory that Andrea Leadsom was always going to resign. I think she was carried away with the exposure she got during the Brexit campaign, bit off more than she could chew, and it just got too much for her.

Frank Little said...

It is not certain that she knew what was going on behind her back.

Frank Little said...

I was gratified to hear that doyen of constitutional studies, Vernon Bogdanor, on Radio 4's PM this evening coming to the same conclusion as I that the way the referendum went required a fresh general election.