29 October 2019

We’re embarking on an election campaign where ‘Parliament’ will be held up as the root of all Brexit evil – MPs who have failed to deliver the will of the people, a Westminster elite of blockers and surrender monkeys.  Here are ten reasons not to fall for it.

  1. Parliament is not only entitled to have a say on Brexit, but obliged to. The 2016 referendum posed a simple in or out question. It was up to our Parliament to decide how we left.
  2. If you instead think the leaving deal is purely for government alone to decide, then you’re favouring a dictatorship where Parliament can’t challenge government.  The way such decisions are usually taken in our democracy is for government to make a proposal and Parliament to vote on it. Parliament could also vote for the people to have a final say – not to block but to confirm.
  3. Boris Johnson is as much a part of Parliament preventing Brexit as anyone. He voted against Theresa May’s deal, along with ultra-Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Duncan-Smith. If not for him and his crowd, the UK would have been out of the EU in March.
  4. Don’t excuse this by saying May’s deal wasn’t Brexit. It might have kept the UK in a customs union but it would have been out of the EU. And the UK would only be in a customs union if it couldn’t agree a trade deal which Brexiteer Liam Fox said would be “one of the easiest in human history”.
  5. The Benn-Burt Act that led to the extension of the Brexit deadline to 31 January was not a ‘Surrender Bill’ but a brave measure that prevented the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal. Think for a minute about the use of ‘surrender’. The EU is not an enemy. We’re not at war. That’s how Johnson and allies have portrayed it over decades to win votes and sell newspapers.  But it’s a lie. The EU was set up to prevent another war among its members, and it’s succeeded.
  6. Talking of war, think about leaders who have set people against Parliaments – General Galtieri of Argentina who invaded the Falklands, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia who started the Balkan War, and most notoriously, Adolf Hitler. They all created fake enemies – just as the right-wing do today when they blame change on migrants, Brussels or Parliament. Would-be dictators fool their people into thinking Parliament is the enemy when they are the real oppressors.
  7. Attack Parliament and you attack democracy, something millions have fought and died for. If you think we should abolish Parliament and hand total power to the government, go ahead. But when the secret police knock on your door in the middle of the night and throw you in jail because of a made-up crime, don’t say you weren’t warned.
  8. For over 300 years, since the 1701 Act of Settlement, Britain has had a Parliament that is sovereign. The government can’t legislate without Parliament’s approval. MPs of all parties spend time reviewing and improving laws, holding Ministers to account and making sure governments do things openly and fairly. This is what stops us having a tyranny. Sadly we don’t teach kids this in school and so people believe the lies that are served up instead.  People need to get involved if they want to preserve Britain’s democratic institutions.
  9. Remember that the attack on Parliament is brought to you by the same team that ran the Vote Leave campaign of lies and scares. Dominic Cummings, now special adviser at No 10, boasted of using “the baseball bat marked ‘Turkey/NHS/£350 million’” in 2016. In other words, he stoked unfounded fears that Turkey would join the EU and Britain would be flooded with millions of immigrants – a vanishingly small prospect given President Erdogan’s human rights record – and now further off than ever. The claim that the NHS would benefit from Brexit by £350m a week was contradicted by the UK Statistics Authority because it misused official figures. The campaign against Parliament has a similar relationship to the truth.
  10. Before you tell canvassers that politicians are all the same and only in it for the money, go and spend a day with an MP.  They work a six, sometimes seven-day week, trying to win funds for their constituencies, helping individuals with casework, writing countless letters and emails, scrutinising laws, dealing with issues from local plans to foreign policy and  education to health and social care. They get trolled on social media and face the threat of violent attacks, as the murder of Jo Cox tragically demonstrated. For this, they get paid around £80,000, less than many doctors, lawyers, accountants, business managers and other professionals who have a much less stressful and busy job. life. So in this election, don’t see MPs as the enemy. Quite the reverse – vote for the ones who won’t be lobby fodder but will stand up to government, work hard for local people and assert the independence of the British Parliament at a time when our democracy is under threat in a new and dangerous way.

River image by Ana Gic from Pixabay