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Prime Minister Boris Johnson was elected by his party to deliver on the Conservative Party promise to deliver on the people’s will, expressed in an extraordinary referendum in 2016. Similar to Chamber of Commerce Republicans in our political system, there are Remainer Conservatives, who represent business interests that have done well at the expense of the British people’s interests. Today, one of these members of parliament literally crossed the aisle, ending the current government majority.
MP Philip Lee left the Conservative Party and walked over to sit with the Liberal Democrats this Monday. The ensuing debate is live, carried by ITV:
Remainer Conservatives are desperately trying to justify their position, in an attempt to do their paymasters’ bidding while somehow keeping their seats, that are the basis of their current and further financial prospects. The recent EU Parliamentary election, in which the Conservative Party was wiped out by the three-week old Brexit Party, suggests this crew is not long for the world of British politics. We will shortly see if Britain will bow to Brussels, or go to the polls and give the elites a second two-finger salute.
See the Ricochet podcast “London Calling,” with James Delingpole and Toby Young for a half-hour of more informed explanation and speculation. They referred to a piece by an eminent scholar, Robert Tombs, who dares to be “out” supporting Brexit. A quick search turns up the following readable pieces, worth your time.
From 2018, a taxonomy of the Remainer body: “There are three categories of revolting Remainer: what makes them tick?“
There seem to be three main categories of Remainers: Ideological Remainers, Professional Remainers and Worried Remainers.
The Ideological Remainers, however vocal, are a small minority: opinion polls suggest about 5 per cent of the population. […] They have in common a negative image of both our history and our present society, which they convince themselves are tarnished by exploitation, racism and violence.
…More formidable in numbers and influence are the Professional Remainers: executives of multinational companies, employees of lobby groups and think tanks (many receiving funding from the EU), academics in receipt of EU grants, politicians representing Remain parties or constituencies, retired politicians who supported or indeed worked for the EU, civil servants and diplomats whose careers have been built round integration with the EU. For this group, familiarity with EU systems and contacts in Brussels give a major career advantage; conversely, Brexit poses a career risk.
…The third and largest category are the Worried Remainers. Most who voted Remain – a third of the total electorate – said that they did so primarily because they were worried about economic consequences. Their support for the EU is conditional and negative – as a lesser evil.
On the basic assumption being floated in Parliament by those who would defy the instructions given them by the people through the 2016 referendum, Robert Tombs wrote another brief explanation on who governs, or rules, in Britain. Without a written constitution, it is hard for outsiders to understand. This professor of French History at Cambridge University made it about as clear as can be back in 2016, shortly after the referendum was decided, in “Brexit means Brexit.”
The idea that parliament is the ultimate sovereign probably derives mainly from the writings of the great Victorian constitutional lawyer A. V. Dicey, but he makes it clear that this applies solely to legislation: parliament can make or unmake any law and none of its laws can be overridden by any other authority. […] The Crown governs, through ministers, but the Glorious Revolution of 1688 stopped it from legislating. Parliament legislates, but since the fiasco of the Puritan Commonwealth it does not govern. The Courts interpret and apply the law.
Does this mean that parliament is a sovereign body superior to the popular will — expressed in this case through the extra-parliamentary channel of a referendum? Direct popular participation in crucial political acts has been part of our history since time immemorial. […] Parliaments, whether specially summoned or not, were instrumental in some of these great events; but parliaments acting with and as the voice of the national community, not separate from or independent of it.
Does this mean that the people, not parliament, the Crown or the courts, are the true sovereign, the ultimate source of authority? I would say — as a historian, not a constitutional lawyer — that it does: the people do not govern, or legislate, or interpret the law, but they are the ultimate source of the authority of those who do. The idea that parliament itself, in some hermetically sealed manner, holds ultimate sovereignty on the grounds of its inherent wisdom, and that this enables it to oppose a clearly and legally expressed popular choice is a strange perversion of history and of common sense. But we do not have to go so far as to proclaim the sovereignty of the people, if we find that a step too far. Popular consent by the people is a more modest and familiar concept. Expressed in a variety of ways, this consent has always been regarded as necessary for legitimate government. The referendum shows that the majority of the people no longer consent to government within the European Union. It would be a foolhardy parliament or law court that tried to ignore this reality.
For more, see his September 2, 2019, coauthored report: “Sovereignty: people, parliament, government.”
Brexit has always been about the sovereignty of the nation. It has now become just as much about sovereignty within the nation.
Updated September 4th: The rest of the Remainers voted against the government to seize control of the legislative calendar, allowing the Remainers to force a vote to stop Brexit, with the false claim of only wanting “delay.” PM Johnson is now effectively rid of them, having removed their Conservative Party authorization to continue running for office. By carrying through on his threatened sanctions, he shows the British public that he is serious and not using the cover of difficult MPs to excuse decisive action. Now he is hammering Labour for suddenly wanting to avoid a general election, where they once expected to win the next election.
This flow chart from the Daily Mail Online, on “the Battle for Brexit,” shows the possible paths ahead (click image to enlarge):