Jurgen finds himself in common situations — waiting for a bus, for example — and upon a lull in conversation with strangers, is known to blurt out, “I feel I must apologize for the conduct of my nation in the war.”
It’s funnier if you watch it than if I explain it to you. But on that note, I feel I must apologize for the conduct of my nation during Brexit.
Over the past week alone, the international media has been inundated with headlines about Her Majesty the Queen intervening (sort of), the new prime minister Boris Johnson losing his parliamentary majority, and now UK journalists blabbering on about the Conservative Party withdrawing the whip from Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson and 20 other Members of Parliament.
You see while the public voted to leave (52 versus 48 per cent) in 2016, our Parliament is regrettably predominantly constituted of those who would wish to remain in the European Union at almost any and all costs.
They are neoliberal and globalist ideologues. Democracy means nought to them. Neither does sovereignty. Nor, apparently, does even pretending they have an intent to govern.
We’re at a constitutional deadlock.
One of the leading jurists in the British arena, A. V. Dicey, foresaw such incidents as far back as 1885. He wrote at the time, “The House can in accordance with the constitution be deprived of power [when] there is fair reason to suppose that the opinion of the House is not the opinion of the electors.”
But as we are quickly finding out, the House of Commons also doesn’t seem to have the appetite to go about such things in a democratic manner.
In keeping with Dicey and indeed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s long demands, there should now be a general election so the public can choose to get rid of those standing in the way of their expressed will. Or, as the case may turn out, to return a Parliament determined to keep us in the European Union against the referendum result.
But Parliament is refusing to consent to an election. Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party, after years of demanding a fresh vote, seem awkwardly unwilling. You would be too if you were polling like they are.
So Brexit seems impossible by executive power, impossible by parliamentary power, and we’re now being told we can’t even have an election to change the Parliament.
This graphic attempts to explain, though will likely just give you a headache. No wonder Brexit leader Nigel Farage recently opined, “I fear that we are rapidly headed towards a very dark place.”
I happen to disagree. I think we’re already there, and our present situation has been foreseeable for a while.
Repeat acts of constitutional vandalism by progressives like Tony Blair and David Cameron (House of Lords Reform 1999 and the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011) have led us to this effective tyranny of the House of Commons.
We have a Parliament that refuses to represent the people, a government that has little recourse against it, and a public who have been so inured by deception that Britain functions worse than a banana republic and most people just shrug it off.
Sure, we’re a big economy (mostly dependent on financial services) and a relatively reliable military power. But our politics are maddening, and we cannot be a good ally or an effective actor on the world stage until all of this is settled.
Worse still, the actions of our Parliament, I fear, are radicalizing a generation of Britons against parliamentary democracy: arguably one of our greatest gifts to the world.
What happens now is anyone’s guess by the hour. This article itself could be outdated by the time you’ve reached this sentence.
Maybe Labour will consent to a general election. But given their ludicrous Brexit position, it is hard to see why they would.
Parliament will surely try to delay Brexit, attempting to force the executive, via legislation, to accept another extension to the Article 50 terms upon which Britain was originally supposed to leave twice earlier this year, and supposedly on October 31.
Still baffled? Consider yourself an honorary Brit.
Meanwhile, we have to try and sign trade deals with our allies for if we do actually leave.
So once again, I apologize for the conduct of my nation during Brexit. But know this: we the people are hankering to leave the European Union and champing at the bit to become worthwhile allies again.
If we have to somehow remove our Parliament and revoke our consent to be governed by such a body, I hope our American friends will have our backs.
Raheem Kassam is the author of No Go Zones and Enoch Was Right. He is the former senior advisor to Brexit leader Nigel Farage and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute.