First published in The Journal – 4th September, 2019 – PDF version of the article can be found here.
Parliament returns to Westminster to whisper and rumour; plot but not gunpowder, accusations of treason thrown from one side to the other. Westminster isn’t worried because it can’t agree on Brexit. It’s worried because it doesn’t understand – can’t understand – what’s going on in the minds of people across the country. The Brexit vote didn’t cause division in our nation. It exposed the divisions that already existed; divisions between people and politicians.
Our MPs see themselves as a bastion of democracy, but sometimes I wonder whether they’ve forgotten the meaning of the ancient word. Dating back to Greek times, the word ‘demos’ referred to the people: the ordinary hard-working people forming a community. Democracy: government by the people – and, if the Americans had it right in their Declaration of Independence, also ‘for’ and ‘by’ the people. When they redefine the public’s opinions to match their own, never has the chasm between the government and the governed been quite so wide.
If there’s one thing that politicians as a class pretty much agree on, it’s that they don’t want to give up power. So why do so many of them oppose Brexit, which should take power away from the distant unelected Eurocrats and put it back into their own hands? Independence should not be a dirty word. I think they either don’t understand the public desire for independence, or perhaps they fear it. Maybe they fear that power flowing from Brussels to Westminster will also see that power continue to flow downwards, back to our local communities and to the people themselves. Maybe they just fear something they don’t understand. They’re so conditioned to believing Treasury projections that they continue to believe them, despite their woefully inaccurate predictions of what would happen after the referendum.
Or maybe they fear having to exercise that power once more, being truly responsible for their own actions without the safety net of being able to hide behind EU policies. Independence is something no central government could support, because it defeats their fundamental reason to exist. Throughout history we can see similar civil conflicts between state and the individual. The more the state ignores the majority, the greater the risk to their own credibility. Public interest and decisions should always be respected regardless of your own feelings, otherwise you become a barrier and no one respects that.
For all the talk of proroguing Parliament, I’m not convinced that Boris Johnson is determined to have a clean Brexit.
Putting prorogation in context, Parliament is losing just four sitting days. This Parliament has been the longest one since the English Civil War in the 17th century without a State Opening of Parliament and a Queen’s (or King’s) Speech. The government needs a legislative agenda. There’s been something of a storm in a teacup over this. And it could just as easily be used to railroad Parliament into an appalling Brexit deal. Boris Johnson’s first letter to the EU suggested that he’d vote for Theresa May’s ‘worst deal in history’ if the EU would budge on the backstop. That would make it merely the second-worst deal in history, and it could go through before we can do anything to stop it.
We’ll see what happens, but I can’t escape the feeling of being a passenger – watching from Brussels and Strasbourg, waiting to find out how the drama plays out at Westminster. It feels like I’m sitting on the substitutes’ bench: as a Party, the Brexit Party is determined to change politics for good. Parliament has become too cumbersome to react to more immediate issues, debate is good and indeed important, but should it really take three years or more as is in the case of Brexit? Politics needs a new approach and one that brings power closer to the public, embraces independence and gives more confidence in the individual rather than interfering with our lives. That’s what we offer, and that’s why Boris Johnson is possibly a little wary of calling a General Election. He knows that we’re waiting in the wings; he knows that we’re ready. He knows that the country is ready for Brexit.
How we want to be governed will be a big talking point at the next general election and we in the Brexit Party are ready for that important debate. The onus is now on the traditional parties, do they embrace independence or do they carry on regardless? That is independence. That is why I am a Brexiteer, why I applaud the many millions of good, decent people across our country who said we want to govern ourselves.