The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #165570 Message #4016741
Posted By: Steve Shaw
01-Nov-19 - 08:57 PM
Thread Name: BS: Brexit #3: A futile gesture?
Subject: RE: BS: Brexit #3: A futile gesture?
There's a piece in the Guardian by Jonathan Freedland, who usually gets on me nerves big time with his bees in his bonnet, that resonated with me. Here's a chunk:
But if we won’t know who’s won till 12 December – and maybe not even then – we already know what’s been lost. The current parliament is about to breathe its last; its final act will be the election of a new Speaker on Monday. As they leave, transformed from MPs back into mere candidates, the members of the old House will have ringing in their ears the booming voice of the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, who in a pantomime performance in September told them they were “a disgrace”, that they had lost the “moral right to sit on these green benches”. Echoing, too, will be the words of both this prime minister and the last one, denouncing them as saboteurs of the popular will, even as agents of “surrender” to a foreign enemy.
Such churn is normal at any election, but there’s something different this time.
Yet in truth, far from waving off the outgoing Commons with jeers and condemnation, we should thank them for their service. The very fact that Boris Johnson itched to see them gone is testament to their achievement. They had done their job – of acting as a restraint on the executive – with unusual ingenuity and even, whisper it, bravery.
Remember, this was a government that, had it had its own way, would have suspended parliament altogether, using the ancient royal power of prorogation. (It’s thanks to campaigners, lawyers and the wise 11 judges of the supreme court that it was stopped.) Johnson was urging the nation to jump off the 31 October cliff into a no-deal Brexit.
What held him back? Only the imagination and industry of a handful of MPs – Oliver Letwin, Yvette Cooper, Dominic Grieve, Hilary Benn and others – who were determined to find a way to block no deal, one that a majority of MPs could agree on. They succeeded. And then they succeeded again less than a fortnight ago, ensuring that Johnson was not allowed to steamroller his new EU deal into law in just three days. It’s thanks to them that, this weekend, we are still in the European Union.
Letwin, Grieve and the rest of the 21 Tories who were later purged from their party risked their careers to do that, putting the national interest first. It required working with others across the party divide. It required standing up to their leader, their whips, their local activists and a fiercely hostile pro-Brexit press. When it would have been so much easier to keep their heads down, they showed courage.
It also helped having a Speaker in John Bercow who, hardly shy of public attention, knew his duty was to defend parliament against the power-grabbing instincts of the executive.
That's a sane and rational appraisal of the last few weeks in m'humble.