Remainers have turned Parliament into an anti-democratic monstrosity

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Offline the leveller

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The Remainers are proposing a new doctrine CREDIT:  JESSICA TAYLOR/HOUSE OF COMMONS
They have perverted the concept of parliamentary sovereignty to legitimise aristocratic rule by MPs
There was a time when Eurosceptics thought that they were the new Roundheads, fighting to return power to Parliament, pitted in combat against the Remainers, a new generation of Euro-Cavaliers committed to the divine right of the EU to rule over us. It was a compelling tale, so it’s no wonder that the more extreme Remainers are seeking to appropriate a warped version of it for themselves. Their real aim is to cancel Brexit, and they’ve found a brilliant new way of dressing up their power grab in pseudo-democratic garb.
Remainer MPs, we are told, are the true friends of Parliament; Brexiteers are on the side of the bullying executive; and the courts have stepped in to complete the 1611 Case of Proclamations that limited the Royal prerogative. So what’s wrong with the Eurosceptics? Didn’t they spend years demanding greater parliamentary sovereignty? Why, then, are they so angry at John Bercow for enhancing MPs’ role? Why don’t they support the Supreme Court’s revolutionary reinterpretation of the Bill of Rights?
It’s a trap. The Remainers are proposing a new doctrine: a perversion of the old idea of parliamentary sovereignty and its replacement by a toxic concept which posits that MPs should have almost unlimited power. Instead of a representative democracy, Remainers want an elected oligarchy, a parliamentocracy, with MPs free to do whatever they wish once elected, with zero accountability. It would be like creating a hybrid between Lords and Commons, with MPs as heroic rebels, defying the bigoted voters, organising themselves into ever-shifting alliances, with manifestos merely a sick joke.
 
A core component of this reactionary ideology is that referendums are illegitimate: Remainers who hated our constitutional traditions now love that aspect of them. Because the executive represents the 52 per cent, the Remainers want to strip it of any ability to govern. They are too scared to permit an election.
To ensure their plan works, they want MPs to break away – de jure or de facto – from their parties, repudiate manifestos and leaders, revoke the Brexit they had previously voted for, and back an interim government. Jeremy Corbyn is too extreme, so the plan is to find an alternative useful idiot to lead this Rotten Parliament’s “government of national unity” (in fact, an exclusively Remainer group). Perhaps the most hypocritical part of this scheme is that Remainer MPs don’t want to rule: they seek to ensure that the EU stays firmly in control.

Voters, who thought they had made an ideological choice by electing an MP as a member of a particular party, will be disfranchised twice over. The referendum will be cancelled; a sham plebiscite on a rigged question will be organised, presumably allowing 16‑year-olds and non-UK citizens to vote. The hope is not just to revoke Brexit but also to discredit the very idea of referendums. A parliamentocracy mustn’t be confused with a democracy.
Top lawyers – usually so ready to conjure up novel interpretations – don’t accept that the constitution has evolved to include referendums since 1975. Even the former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption, who correctly writes that lawyers have usurped too much authority from politicians, is misguided on this. He welcomed the Supreme Court’s judgment because it “reinstates Parliament at the heart of the process”. He argues that “most of our difficulties over the past three years have arisen from the misguided attempt to insert a referendum into a parliamentary system”.
That is catastrophically wrong-headed: we needed the referendum because most MPs had failed to represent the public’s view on such an important constitutional matter. The people are sovereign, not the MPs, who are merely their agents. The chaos has been caused by their refusal to follow those instructions.
Eurosceptics who believed in parliamentary sovereignty never sought to give MPs absolute power. Tony Benn, a first-generation opponent of the EU, put it well: “Britain’s continuing membership… would mean the end of Britain as a completely self‑governing nation and the end of our democratically elected Parliament as the supreme law-making body in the United Kingdom.”
But while he wanted Parliament – not Brussels, Strasbourg or Luxembourg – to be the place where law was made, he didn’t support an elected dictatorship of MPs. Benn separately argued that national sovereignty belongs to the people: “We lend it to our representatives to use for five years at a time… Any government or MP pretending to give away these sovereign powers without the explicit consent of the people is acting unconstitutionally.”
My own Euroscepticism has little to do with parliamentary sovereignty per se – I’m more interested in the sovereignty of the individual – and all to do with restoring democracy and accountability and ensuring political power is decentralised. There is no European demos (people) – and thus no possible kratos by the demos (democracy, or rule of the people). Technocratic empires are a recipe for economic, social, cultural and political calamity.
Politicians and majorities should not have unlimited powers over us: natural, inalienable rights ought to be enshrined into a form of superior constitutional law. But these should be grounded in national traditions: the US has its constitution, the French have their droits de l’homme et du citoyen, and we should have a new British Bill of Rights.
The courts have a key role in enforcing them, though they must be prevented from descending into US-style judicial activism. Legislation will be required to curtail their role, limit judicial reviews and ensure government and Parliament directly control the appointment process. Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, and other Tories are finally thinking in this way, an excellent development.
Forget about binary battles between Roundheads and Cavaliers: it’s time for a radical five-way division of roles between the constitutional monarchy, the executive, legislators elected by the public, the courts and the people involved directly, with a new Swiss-style role for referendums by petition.
The extreme Remainers’ vision is an anti-democratic monstrosity, an appalling abuse by a cosseted, privileged and delusional class harking back to a bygone era of deference. Brexiteers shouldn’t despair: there is nothing the British public hates more than being taken for fools.


 
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