There was joy at the second referendum march in Parliament Square on Saturday as the Letwin Amendment passed 322 votes to 306 against. The amendment postponed Boris Johnson from putting his new deal to parliament, making the Prime Minister look foolish and arrogant. Remainers were especially triumphant at the passing of the Letwin Amendment as it enforces the Prime Minister to seek a further extension to the Brexit process in compliance with the recently passed Benn Act. This led to jubilance and relief among many Remainers seeing the light of additional democratic oversight of the process with another referendum, where Remain would be victorious. But this is overzealous. I fear this is merely a stay of execution on the process of Brexit, rather than a sudden turn towards a Remain.
The reasoning for this fear has many different paradigms. The most obvious is the disingenuous and destructive style of governance that Boris Johnson has at his very core. Johnson has shown contempt the very essence of constitutional practice and parliamentary sovereignty. He didn’t even sign the letter. This shocking privation of civility and deference towards the institutions of parliament gives me no doubt that he’ll enforce a leave verdict no matter the type by the 31st of October. The repugnant attitude of this Government to British Parliamentary discourse should only inspire fear in Remainers, whatever the result of the Letwin amendment was.
The next strata of this innate trepidation I have, as a Remainer, is the consistent melting away of opposition towards the deal. Johnson’s grip on parliament seems to have eclipsed any that Theresa May ever had. May could never convert the ERG hardliners to endorse here deal, there were always enough ‘Brexit Spartans’ to decapitate Theresa May’s attempts to pass her deal. Johnson faces nothing like this level of opposition. Priti Patel and Theresa Villiers were booth voted against the Prime Minister May’s deal three times, but they are now Cabinet Minister. They now dance to the Pied Piper’s tune and will most definitely bow to saint Boris. The fresh faces in the Cabinet are not the only conversos, the tones of many of the rank and file ERG has turned from bellicose hatred to spineless sycophants at the behest of Boris. Mark Francois, infamous ERG member, has changed his tune on the deal/ Steve Baker, the ERG Head, has said the ERG will back the deal. Andrew Bridgen, one of the first to call for Theresa May to go, has said using the most eloquent of speech that “it looks like Brexit, it smells like Brexit.” The Spartans’ descent is crumbling to the fraudulent avuncular nature of Johnson. Even the Bruges group originals have seem to support Boris. Bill Cash said he’ll back the deal along with Kevin Barron, who claimed “the backstop has gone” as an excuse for his sudden apophony. The Brexit Spartans infatuation for Boris is another reason Remainers must be fearful.
Along with the 25 or so changes on the Conservative side, the mess of the Labour Party has given Johnson fertile ground to pitch his new arrangement. Before I write this section, for the love of God I would have no idea why a Labour MP would be mad enough to rubber stamp an NHS undermining Thatcherite dream deal, but that doesn’t seem to stop them. Some Labour MPs believe that Brexit must be delivered representing Northern Constituencies, displaying mild indifference to the potential result of such an experiment. The numbers are said to be potentially as high as 19 MPs. Their leader is Jon Mann, a duplicitous servant of the Conservative Government, I wonder if he said that at the last election. He’s said that “Labour MPs should get behind the Government”. Mann has been seemingly effective at prying away terrified Northern Labour MPs. Converts to Mann’s servitude of the Government include Caroline Flint, a former Government Minister, who has transformed into an avowed Brexiteer, Melanie Onn fearing a No deal and Jim Fitzpatrick who wants some sort of Brexit closure. Some Labour MPs haven’t clarified their position like Gloria De Piero and Stephan Kinnock as they look for some compromise in an issue where that ideal seems so alien. I might be being harsh, but, these MPs clearly feel they have to represent the views of their constituents or fear electoral repercussions. Fundamentally, they’ve misunderstood their role as MPs, they are not simple vassal delegates. As Edmund Burke Whig MP said “If I no longer give you the benefit of my judgement and simply follow your order, I am not serving you I’m betraying you”. I fear they are not abiding by this standard.
The last point to speak on, is the tone and attitude in which Cabinet seem to speak implies a substantial confidence of imminent victory, despite the vote in the victory of the Letwin Amendment. Dominic Raab has announced that he believes that parliament now has the number to pass Johnson’s Brexit deal. Raab is one of the most ardent believers in the Brexit wonderland, his stunning optimism in the face of the Letwin amendment should only inspire fear within Remainers minds. Michael Gove in a quite astonishing interview, said that “ain’t gonna happen” in response to Andrew Neil positing the idea of a Brexit extension. Priti Patel appeared to smirk at the fears of business in an interview about Brexit with Andrew Marr. This arrogance should exasperate the nation and conjure dystopian visions for Remainers.
IMAGE: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor