“Brexit”, said Boris Johnson, “means Brexit and we’re going to make a Titanic success of it”. Setting to one side what happened to the Titanic – and be honest, it wasn’t good – we are now having the most almighty fuss about nothing. The High Court has decided that MPs, not just the PM, must decide the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. What’s so controversial about that?
What has happened today is quite simple: a British court applying British law, serving justice to British people. Aren’t these the very things the likes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson spent months banging on about? Haven’t we taken back control? I kept being told by the very people who are moaning about the High Court verdict today that we needed to regain our sovereignty and return powers to Westminster back from Brussels, yet now we seem to have this sovereignty after all, where’s the issue?
Let us be very clear about this: we are leaving the EU and parliament will undoubtedly vote to trigger Article 50. What many of us are arguing is that we did not vote to be poorer and it is parliament’s duty, not just Theresa May’s, to scrutinise any potential deal on our behalf. This is what being a parliamentary democracy is all about.
Speaking personally, the last thing I want is another referendum given just how divisive the last one was and remains (sorry to say remains. I couldn’t think of a better word). For a variety of reasons, more people voted to leave the EU than stay in it. In making such a binary decision over an immensely complex issue will raise more issues than it solves, but that’s the nature of the beast.
We were not asked for a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit, just whether we wanted Brexit or not and it is disingenuous of the likes of Farage to pretend otherwise. The vote was patently not about surrendering access to the single market, it wasn’t really about reducing immigration, although both issues, especially the latter, informed the decisions of many voters. But it wasn’t on the ballot. That is why May cannot be allowed, nor even trusted, to go it alone.
I’m afraid I think things are far more political than people might imagine. I do not regard May as being one of the greatest minds in politics, but she is undoubtedly surrounded by women and men who are. At the risk of sounding like some wacky conspiracy theorist, what I see at the end of this posturing, probably by early spring, is the PM calling an early general election, framing the fight as between the “liberal elite”, whoever they are, and “ordinary working people”, making out the likes of Johnson are working class stock from sink estates, being downtrodden by the establishment. My belief is that only the most cynical politician would go down this road, but there is a mountain of evidence to suggest that May is exactly that beast.
With the Tories miles ahead in the polls, May has the widest electoral open goal since Tony Blair in 1997. On current polling, she would win by a landslide. Even the left wing writer Owen Jones writes of an “early election disaster for Labour” if May was to go to the country and he’s one of the main people behind Jeremy Corbyn (thanks for that Owen). Worse still for the 48%, May would have the most almighty mandate for bringing about the hardest Brexit imaginable and with the hard right emboldened by victory the bumpy ride would get bumpier still. It is a horrible scenario but one I believe is beginning to take shape.
Don’t believe the lies. Today was not an attempt to derail Brexit, nor should it have been. It was a court victory for everyone who believes in British sovereignty, leavers or remainders. All that has changed is that May will now have to spell out the kind of Brexit she favours and our elected representatives will be able to shape it.
This is a good day for democracy, not a bad one. We’ve taken back control haven’t we?