The UK: Exercising a prerogative of protest at the prorogation of principle
Amidst the other uncertainties that have occupied my time and space, it was a sense of powerlessness and numbness that caught me when I read that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom had asked the Queen to suspend Parliament. [ Channel 4]
This could easily have been a constitutional crisis, but the decision was purely political, a gambler’s last stance at a poker table to get #Brexit over the line where the power of persuasion, the force of argument, the exchange of ideas and robust debate had failed to bring Parliament over to the intentions, agenda and programme of Her Majesty’s Government.
The Prorogation of Parliament is rarely used in a high stakes drama like this, almost never in living memory except for peers of the super-septuagenarian set. It is, in this case, an act of malevolent Machiavellian statecraft that would have far-reaching consequences for the way the traditions of our parliamentary democracy can be gamed in the interest of ideology over national interest.
The Queen by terms has the prerogative power but is bound to act on the advice of her government and the Privy Council. Whilst she might offer advice, the monarchy has the solemn duty to be above the fray that it cannot interfere even of she as a person and sovereign of our nation has had the great fortitude of inviting 14 Prime Ministers to form a government since she was enthroned in 1952. Sir Winston Churchill was her first.
Our distorted, rancorous, and disorderly exit from Europe has left many carcases in its wake, we are on our third Prime Minister and for over three years, not one side of the people’s representation in Parliament has been able to claim a decisive victory in the quest for either exiting or remaining in Europe.
An advisory referendum, poorly implemented, badly fought and corruptly won has hamstrung the country and sucked oxygen out of any viable activity in the UK, yet, the creed stands strong in the hurtling down this precipice in a display of everything redolent of English bloody-mindedness.
I do not believe that Europe has ever been the problem, it is the people we have sent to Europe that has left us with a raw deal. Where other nations sent their best, we found the eccentric, the rabble-rousers and fringe politicians to negotiate on our behalf, the likes of Nigel Farage whose penchant for insult, rudeness and cringe-worthy soundbite would never have with the best ideas in the world be able to win a consensus or an agreement in any committee.
He, as a member of the fisheries committee only attended 1 of 42 sittings, and he had to audacity to board a fishing boat throwing dead fish in the Thames to make the point about seizing back control of our waters.
We, as an electorate have ourselves to blame the most, those who came out to vote won over by questionable arguments, those who allowed apathy to rob them of a say in how they are governed has led to a representation of gamblers. David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, they all owe their rise to people gambling on their future or hoping their single vote can send a message, which is fine, but many messages can end up choosing the wrong representative and lead us down the road to an uncertain future as Brexit portends.
Being in Europe still matters, the evidence of that is in how the Republic of Ireland with just 4.9 million against the almost 70 million of the UK has clout by reason of being backed by the heft of the EU-27, the UK stands alone looking in from the outside with an outsized view of her influence that was progressively lost after two World Wars.
All the trade deals we now want to negotiate after Brexit, we already have as part of the European Union, we are not going to get better deals than those that the EU has already won with hard bargaining, the numbers, the skill and the statesmanship. The UK in the hands of these peddlers of vacuous optimism who have the temerity to question our patriotism when we challenge their baseless assertions leaves one terrified of the future.
Yet, we are full of fight, the last has not been heard of this matter, for if at any time there was a leader of the calibre of Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee or Margaret Thatcher amongst this lot, there might have been a slight chance that they can pull off a successful Brexit, I doubt a hundred of them together can successfully manage a piss up in a brewery, they would likely piss away our future on the altar of privileges they have come to expect as their entitlement to rule without taking responsibility for any failings.
The Parliament is supposed to be sovereign. At this juncture, where the country faces a momentous decision as to our future, we have a Prime Minister who has no electoral mandate putting the mother of all Parliaments in the cooler to allow his government carry the country divided as it is through to a conclusion many of his cohort including himself have severally said to be anathema.
A no-deal Brexit is the worst-case scenario with no upside to it as the pound languishes at about 25% below its value before the Referendum, businesses are closing or moving to Mainland Europe, EU citizens who have made their home in this country are none the wiser of their status post-Brexit and the retired Brits out on the Mediterranean coasts of Europe and further afield in the Canaries have to contend with unnecessary geriatric anxiety.
For those who want to leave and those who wish to remain, we have a greater issue at stake, the reckless abuse of and usurpation of power by the executive in silencing the elected representatives of the people with the revising chamber for the presumed will of the people, which first was advisory, which was superseded by a general election, which should have had the full-throated agitations of the Parliament and having not won the argument, the government should have conceded defeat or sought another mandate.
This is a travesty and I believe there will be civil unrest for the fact that if taking back control was not to give it back to the sovereign Parliament, but for the executive to arrogate those powers to itself, our democracy is at an impasse and we need to revisit the fault lines of the separation of powers and how the Parliament should by rights be able to hold the executive to scrutiny and sanction for every action they take in the name of the people.
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