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Brexit: two-and-a-half years wasted

25th Jan 2019
Brexit: two-and-a-half years wasted

(Photo:UK Parliament/ Mark Duffy)

It is two-and-a-half years since Prime Minister, David Cameron, made the fateful decision to hold an entirely unnecessary referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU. Its primary aim was a vain attempt to heal the rifts over Europe within the Conservative Party.

Yet it has only widened the rifts whilst appearing to fuel to the resurgence of right-wing extremists. The UK’s membership of the 28-nation bloc has always had its detractors. Many believe the EU is in desperate need of reform but there was no clamour for an exit. Nor was it clear what kind of exit people were voting for.

In itself, the 2016 vote was not legally binding though give how it was framed during the campaign, it was argued that politicians were obliged to deliver on the outcome. Without any consensus, however, or reaching out across the aisle, the intervening 30 months since have been entirely wasted.

Cameron’s replacement, Theresa May, has been to trying to steamroll her version of what she believes the result was supposed to mean. Setting out impossible red lines, she ended up with such a compromise Brexit deal that it was ripped to shreds. Not only has it led to the biggest ever defeat a government has ever suffered in parliamentary history but the size of the majority even exceeded the number of MPs who supported it.

If anything, the chaos has only exposed how inadequate our democratic system is given how a minority Government has been able to act in utter contempt of Parliament without any attempt to reach a consensus. Initially, the fact our country is supposed to be a parliamentary democracy seemed lost on Parliament. Only after it was ruled by the Supreme Court that it was up to Parliament to authorise the UK’s departure from the EU was Parliament called into action. Notably, it was in response to a case led not by a politician but by a merchant banker.

A poll carried out by ComRes has found a majority of the public tends to agree with the sleazy state of British politics. Three-quarters of voters were found to believe that the crisis-hit EU departure process has shown that the current generation of MPs are “not up to the job”.

A root-and-branch overhaul of the country’s entire political system is wanted by no less than a massive 72% of people quizzed in the survey, published in the Daily Express. Yet, despite the chaos embroiling Brexit, a majority of voters (53%) still want the result of the EU Leave vote to be honoured by ensuring the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc. Though like the Tories and MPs, it is doubtful if anyone knows or can agree what exiting is supposed to mean.

The irony is that despite her astounding failings May has been allowed to continue what appears to be an impossible task of finding a deal that a majority in Parliament can agree upon.

That is if she is truly seeking one and not running down the clock so that Parliament chooses her deal to avoid Britain just crashing out on Brexit day on March 29 without a deal – a possibility some suspect given she is refusing to rule out a no deal nor extend the withdrawal deadline. There has been so much misinformation and disinformation despite this being the biggest decision ever made in peacetime Britain.

Once Britain prided itself as being the mother of democracies. But this system cannot be allowed to continue. Having the legislature inside the legislative authority simply opens itself up for abuse and corruption. Just as believing that the country can again regain its imperial past and become a real power on the world stage, much soul searching needs to be done on how it governs itself and carries out the wishes of the people.

Like it or not, the public should be alarmed to see how Britain’s reputation in handling Brexit has been damaged worldwide. Whatever the outcome and when the dust has settled down, one important legacy must be that it leads to constitutional change if ever the trust of people is to be regained.

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