An all-out attempt is being being made to frustrate the wish of the British people, expressed by 52 to 48 per cent in the 2016 referendum, to leave the EU.
Last night, after a day of drama and arm-twisting, Theresa May’s government narrowly escaped defeat over the EU Withdrawal Bill.
A number of amendments to the bill, which had been passed by the unelected House of Lords and were designed to tie the government’s hands in its negotiations with the EU, were returning to the Commons.
The most contentious amendment required the government to seek approval from parliament on the next steps to be taken if the Brussels talks remain deadlocked at the end of November or if the Commons rejects the terms of the deal.
This was designed to prevent the government from deciding that no deal was better than a bad deal. Since the majority of MPs are Remainers, it threatened to allow them to force the government in such circumstances to negotiate a customs union or remain in the single market, leaving the UK shackled to EU rules and economic restrictions.
May bought off the 15 Tory Remainer rebels with a promise. But what was it? She was said here to have given “personal assurances that she would agree to the broad thrust of their proposals”, but here merely that she would “accept aspects of an amendment” put forward by the leading Tory Remainer rebel, the former Attorney-General Dominic Grieve.
Claims that Mrs May did not in fact promise to do what the rebels wanted produced a furious response and threats of a further rebellion if she went back on the promise that the rebels claim she made.
Yet on BBC Radio’s Today programme this morning (1 hr.12 mins in) one of these rebels, Nicky Morgan, conceded that Mrs May had not promised them that MPs would have a veto over the terms of any deal, merely that parliament should have a “meaningful say”. So what would happen if MPs meaningfully rejected the terms of the government’s EU deal? Ms Morgan meaningfully dodged the question.
Like other Remainers, she denied that the rebels were trying to reverse Brexit. But that’s exactly what they are trying to do, and by denying it they are once again treating the public with contempt.
For what they want to do is what parliament is constitutionally not entitled to do – to bind the hands of the government in negotiations. That’s because such a power would paralyse government and render it unable to negotiate in Britain’s best interests.
By demonstrating Mrs May’s extreme difficulty in getting a true Brexit deal through parliament, the Grieve-led revolt has further weakened the government’s already weak hand in Europe. It was therefore an act of national treachery.
The Remainers in parliament maintain with hand on heart that they aren’t trying to reverse Brexit. They are merely seeking to limit the economic damage to the UK, as they see it, by a customs union with the EU or by remaining in the single market. This is a transparently spurious and cynical claim.
For if the UK were to enter into either arrangement, it would remain bound by EU rules and requirements – but with no say over them at all. And of course that’s the strategy: to make the terms of leaving the EU so unpalatable this would create a groundswell for a second referendum which would result in deciding to remain in the EU after all.
Apart from the cynical abuse of democracy involved, this rests upon a key fantasy – that deciding to remain in the EU would restore the status quo. Not so. The status quo is no more. There is no going back.
If the UK were to decide to reverse Brexit, the EU would respond to such a demonstration of abject weakness by insisting that the terms of remaining had now changed. The UK would be made to join the euro, with the catastrophic effects on its economy that would result. And on every other issue on which the EU plans further to emasculate the sovereignty of its member states, the UK would be treated with contempt as a busted flush and its objections brushed aside.
To help bring about this disaster, Remain MPs are now being backed – even more outrageously – by a foreign power interfering in British politics. That foreign power is the billionaire Hungarian-American financier George Soros.
Back in 1993, Soros infamously “broke the Bank of England” when he made over £1 billion betting against the pound shortly before the UK crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.
For years, Soros has channelled his billions into organisations devoted to the destruction of western national borders and undermining the integrity of the nation state which he despises.
Now he has thrown his money and energy into “Best for Britain”, a shadowy group said to be “working tirelessly” to secure a second referendum. As the Telegraph reported in February, having obtained a leaked memo from the group:
“It also plans to target MPs and convince them to vote against the final Brexit deal to trigger another referendum or general election, according to a strategy document leaked from a meeting of the group.
“It adds that a series of Momentum-style mass ralliesand concerts are planned and the campaign will have a ‘heavy youth focus’. The memo also reveals a plan to ‘pressure’ MPs in 100 Leave-supporting constituencies, and sets out how organisers ‘have a range of guerrilla marketing tactics’ to build momentum.
“The donors were told that the group’s goal was ‘to raise public support for Remain to a clear and growing national majority by June/July 2018 and channelling that pressure into MPs’ mailbags and surgeries’. The document concludes that the movement ‘must then win the meaningful vote that Mrs May has promised on her Brexit deal in October’ and adds that if she loses, ‘it is likely to trigger a new referendum, or election’”.
And so here we are in June 2018. Lo and behold, yesterday the justice minister Phillip Lee became the first member of the government to resign over Mrs May’s Brexit policy.
The Telegraph reports that sources within Best for Britain said it had been approaching Tory MPs and ministers and urging them to “vote with their consciences”. Conservative sources told the paper that four other Remainer junior ministers were considering quitting their jobs if the Government didn’t not make major concessions on Brexit in the coming weeks.
Mrs May escaped disaster last night by the skin of her teeth. This thing, though, is going to go down to the wire, and given the forces now pulling out all the stops to reverse Brexit the prospects for avoiding a national and democratic debacle do not look good.
Mrs May has played this disastrously from the very start. The only way to negotiate is through strength and Britain had a very strong hand. The EU is terrified of the financial black hole that would open up if Britain just walked away; it’s even more terrified of the competitive edge the UK would have if it really did free itself from the EU’s economic and regulatory shackles.
Yet Mrs May has behaved as if the UK is a weak supplicant begging for favourable terms. The only way to show negotiating strength is to threaten to walk away and make it clear you mean it. Accordingly, she should have publicly and loudly made contingency plans for a no-deal outcome. Yet no such plans, we are told, have been made. So walking away from the EU with no deal in place is said to be simply impossible.
This omission is incomprehensible on grounds of simple prudence alone. And so the only conclusion to draw from it is that Mrs May and her senior officials decided right at the start that they would accept a bad deal for Britain. And that has made just such an outcome all but inevitable.
Brexit represents the one remaining chance for Britain to rediscover its identity and national self-confidence. It is therefore its one remaining chance to shrug off the national demoralisation which has resulted from the anti-western, self-loathing and despairing counter-culture on which the EU itself was founded – and which, in its wildly successful “march through the institutions”, so deeply threatens the future of Britain by making moral and intellectual idiots of its people.
No-one ever suggested leaving the EU would have no downsides. But the freedom to control their own destiny is written into the DNA of the British people. It was that not-yet-extinguished spirit that made its voice heard in the Brexit vote.
If that aspiration is now denied, it is not just the Conservative party that will be finished. The British people will never, ever trust parliamentary democracy again.
But of course, for Remainers parliamentary democracy is axiomatically irrelevant – useful only if they can suborn it in order to bring about Brexit’s reversal, and thus finally destroy the values and characteristics of this uniquely independent island nation.
Get rid of Mrs May. Now. And draft Nigel Farage.
Melanie Phillips is a British journalist, broadcaster and author - you can follow her work on her website HERE.