Britain Europe Politics Uncategorized

Why is There Chaos in Parliament?

Much as I would like to continue with the book review of The Great Deception and try to help our understanding of the EU, events have overtaken me and so this week we will delay part 12 and instead turn to the momentous events in Parliament over the past couple of days. The British government has just had the largest defeat in history and yet the Prime Minister refused to resign and has won a vote of confidence. How can this be? In normal times this would not happen – but these are not normal times. Some of my American friends have asked for an explanation so here is my short guide to why we are where we are.  If you would like a longer version then read this Brexit for Dummies (and Hope for Visionaries)


The UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973 without a referendum and public vote. In 1975 a referendum was held to determine whether the UK would leave. Remain won by a substantial majority. Forward to 2016 and another referendum was held. Why? Because the EEC had become deeply unpopular. Through a series of treaties it had changed from an economic trading block – the European Economic Community – into a political entity – the European Union.   To be fair to the EU this had always been the intention and was clearly stated. The only problem was that the British people had been lied to by its politicians.   We were never asked about any of the changes and frustration increased at the anti-democratic nature of the EU and its ability to impose laws upon us, which we did not decide nor vote for.

Thatcherism in Europe

download-1There were enormous advantages in being in the EU – not least because of the Single Market, which Margaret Thatcher called Thatcherism in Europe (I wonder how many of the socialists, liberals and nationalists who argue so vehemently for the SM know that they are passionately defending ‘Thatcherism in Europe”). But there were also great disadvantages. The free movement of ‘labour, capital, goods and services’ was of great benefit to the wealthy and the corporations – less so to the poor – many of whom saw their living standards reduced.

The EU is a technocracy rather than a democracy. It is not, as is often mistakenly assumed, a collective of sovereign national states who co-operate together, but rather a supranational body which requires states to give up much of their sovereignty. National parliaments do not get to vote on EU laws. The EU parliament is the only elected parliament in the world which does not get it propose its own laws. These are proposed by the EU Commission (an unelected body of national commissioners who swear an oath to be loyal to the Commission not their own elected parliaments). The Parliament and the Council of Ministers have a right of veto and amendment. The trouble is that the Commission are not accountable to any electorate and cannot be removed by the electorate. This is the great democratic deficit of the EU. As Tony Benn argued – if you cannot remove the people who make your laws, you do not live in a democracy.

Political Confusion

downloadThe tension created within the UK was felt particularly within the Conservative party. In the 1970’s the tension was within the Labour party – the majority of whom were opposed to the EEC – seeing it as an anti-democratic corporate entity (a position that has been Corbyn’s all his political life – many suspect he has not changed).   But the genius of the EU is that it governs the nations it rules, not directly but through the institutions and systems of those nations. So you will find that politicians, media, academic institutions (why do you think that over 90%  of the UK’s highly paid University principals were so strongly pro_EU?), the arts and even major charities are funded by the EU. He who pays the piper calls the tune. The Labour party changed its view towards the EU because of two factors – firstly the rise of what are termed the ‘Islington or champagne’ socialists – whereby it became much more the party of middle class liberals concerned for ‘social’ justice rather than economic. Secondly the trade union leadership were well funded by the EU.

downloadThe Scottish Nationalists have morphed from the anti-EU, anti-UK, pro Scotland party (which is why they were so successful in the fishing constituencies who had been decimated by the Common Fisheries Policy) in the 1970’s to being the most pro-EU party in the UK (alongside the Liberal Democrats). This has happened to such an extent that the SNP would be better renamed the EUNP!

Conservative Division

The real problem/opportunity for those who wanted to leave the EU was seen to be in the Conservative party. But as it in practice split over Mrs Thatcher’s increasing EU skepticism (which resulted in her dismissal) there was a view that the Tories would really do nothing about the EU. In effect, apart from the extreme right (the BNP) and the extreme left (the Communists) there was no political voice for those who wanted the UK to be independent from the EU;  until UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) and Nigel Farage came along.   Although in the 2015 election UKIP only got one seat (because of the first past the post system), they received 3.9 million votes, despite all their eccentricities.   This was enormously damaging to the Tories whose leader David Cameron promised to have an EU referendum in order to deal with UKIP. The Houses of Parliament voted by a large majority to have an in/out referendum which we were solemnly promised would be a once in a life time vote, and would be acted upon.  No-one expected Leave to win. All of the major political parties, the majority of the media (with notable exceptions in the print media), the CBI, the Trade Unions, the arts, academic and church establishments (almost every Church of England bishop and the Church of Scotland General Assembly made it clear that God was pro-EU!) were opposed.

The Unthinkable

And then the unthinkable happened. The British people voted to leave the EU. 16.1 million voted to remain; 17.4 to leave. It was a seismic shock to the whole political system. The Establishment struggled to cope. Most politicians said ‘we respect the result’ – although their version of ‘respect’ has meant that we now ‘respect’ them in the same way. At the 2016 General Election over 80% of the votes went to parties who promised in their manifestos to enact the result of the Referendum and take the UK out of the EU, including the Single Market and Customs Union. Many politicians just lied.  The process had already begun to reverse the decision.

The Reaction

Project Fear kicked in – although I think it would be better named Project Armageddon! We were daily sold stories of how we would be doomed, doomed, doomed if we left our EU Nirvana. Voting for Brexit was deemed to be dumb populism – equivalent to voting for Donald Trump or fascism. The people who voted Leave were accused of being ignorant, deceived, lied to (of course those who voted Remain were intelligent enough to see through the lies!). Even the Russians were blamed. We must have another vote they cried. The EU, which has never accepted the result of any referendum which went against its wishes, played hardball and refused to concede anything. The British government, led by Mrs May, has proven to be totally inept in dealing with the EU – signing up to pre-conditions which guaranteed that it would be impossible to get a good deal.

An Agreement and a Defeat

_104586845_8321e6e4-d813-46a2-9649-dac68a362176After two and a half years of this mess – with well-financed Remainers getting increasingly emboldened, and a government led by those who voted Remain, seeking to negotiate Leave with an intransigent EU – an agreement was finally come to. This was the agreement that was so overwhelmingly defeated in the House of Commons this week. Why?

Although it gives the Labour party almost everything it wanted (apart from a Customs Union) they saw the opportunity in the chaos to get another general election and so they voted against. The ardent Remainers whose sole aim is to overturn the result of the Referendum see the opportunity of getting another referendum or even perhaps parliament unilaterally stopping Brexit – so they voted against. And the ardent Brexiteers voted against (including 100 conservatives) because the May deal was possibly the worst deal in British political history – it gave the EU almost everything they wanted (that’s why they agreed it in less than half an hour!) and in effect kept us in the EU, without having any say. It was BINO (Brexit In Name Only).   The trouble is that the Prime Minister is obsessed with immigration and so the only thing really offered was to stop ‘freedom of movement’; she thinks that this obsession is shared by those who voted to Leave – but for most Leavers it was the question of sovereignty not immigration.

What Happens Now?

So what happens now? My view has always been that the most likely outcome was that we will not leave – except in name only. The EU is, as the Greek Foreign Minister stated, like the Hotel California “you can check out any time you want but you can never leave”.   In effect this is what the most ardent Remainers argue – which makes me wonder why you would want to belong to a club you can never leave?!   But just as the Remainers live in fantasy EU Nirvana, it seems to me that some of the Brexiteers live in a fantasy Brexitland. They think that Mrs May’s defeat will lead to us leaving with a No Deal – having a clean break. Whilst I personally think that this would be the best solution, it is unlikely to happen. Why? Because the UK government was so inept that it did not seriously begin to prepare for that until the last few months. And because the UK parliament, which is heavily weighted to remain will not permit it – even though they voted to make it the legal default position.   The possibility of a second referendum is growing but still a long way off. If we were to have one – it would be divisive;  and if won by Leave I don’t think it would be decisive and we would just be back to square one. If won by Remain (and that is likely because the subtext of the question will be ‘would you like to destroy the country and your family by leaving the EU, or would you prefer to stay in paradise’?) it will in effect be the end of democracy within the UK. The disillusionment with the political class will result in both apathy (why bother voting it only encourages them?!) and a rise in extremism.

It’s hard to see a way out of this mess. The EU could concede on the Irish border (which would probably get the May deal through) but given Donald Tusks’ latest tweet (hinting that the UK should just give up and remain in the EU) they are unlikely to do that and will just wait for the UK to come to heel.   It’s possible that Mrs May could cut a deal with Labour which keeps the UK in the Customs Union (effectively staying in much of the EU – again without having a say and preventing us from making our own trade deals with other nations). But that would split the Tory party. Some think this will lead to Scotland leaving the UK and re-joining the EU. That will not happen – the SNP has killed off any hope of independence for Scotland by aligning itself so strongly with the EU. If we end up staying in the EU there will be no Scottish Indy referendum. If we leave it’s unlikely there will be,  and even if there was, it would be lost badly.

The bottom line is that we are led by politicians in general who are weak, lack leadership and vision and are no match for the technocrats of the EU. It’s BMS politics-  Bad, Mad and Sad.   May’s deal is a bad deal.  Corbyn (and the SNP’s) ‘rule out no deal’ is mad because when the EU has knows that no deal is off the table and therefore the UK will remain if there is no deal – they either won’t offer a deal or offer one that is so bad that no one would accept.  The sadness comes from watching our democracy self destruct.

It is as we say in Scotland a Brexit Bourach (mess)! For me I just despair….and of course pray. Sovereignty does not lie ultimately with Brussels, or the Parliaments, or even the people. Only God is sovereign – and only He can, in his mercy, save us from ourselves.

If you want a fuller explanation I would suggest a couple of things. Firstly one of the best podcasts I have come across is the BBC’s, Brexit – A Love Story?

You can also follow my series on this blog looking at the history of the EU – the Great Deception.

Also as I have written about this extensively all you need to do is type Brexit into the search facility on this blog and you will get plenty!










  1. I think it’s worth pointing out that the EU commissioners are replaceable by national heads of government (just as UK ministers are) and that all the ones from the UK have been people who are either members of the house of Lords or are people who had been elected as MPs.

    The commission president is appointed by the Parliament, which is similar (if less automatic) to the way the UK chooses its prime minister.

    The parliament is directly elected
    The Council are directly elected
    The commission is appointed by directly elected governments and the Parliament.

    1. There is nothing similar in terms of the appointment of the Commission president. And EU commissioners are not there as representatives of national governments – indeed they swear an oath saying that they will not be. The parliament only has the power of veto and amendment – The Council are not directly elected. It would really help if you are going to comment and seek to persuade people with your case that you get your facts right!

      1. It would help if you could stop disagreeing with things that I have not said!

        Well the PM is chosen by Parliament and the Commission president is chosen by the European Parliament.

        The commissioner is appointed by the PM and can be changed any time she chooses.

      2. The PM is not chosen by parliament – the PM is always the leader of the governing party. The Commission president is not chosen by the EU parliament – but by the Council of ministers. The UK Commissioner is not there to represent the UK but the Commission. And they cannot be changed at any time she chooses.

      3. The PM is only PM because she holds the confidence of parliament. There isn’t a formal vote (although there has been this week) because it is unnecessary.

        The EU parliament does indeed vote on the commission president.

        You keep claiming that the U.K. commissioner doesn’t represent the U.K., but I have not claimed that he does. My claim is that he is appointed by the PM and can be changed by the PM

        In any case, the governance of the EU is more democratic than that of the U.K. and, largely, the reason the commission is not directly elected is because national governments fear that it will then have too much political power.

      4. Again I simply request you learn to check your facts and then make intelligent comments. It is getting very tiring to continually have to correct the most basic errors.

        The PM is elected by her party, constituency etc. She is elected. And she can be removed by the voters.

        The EU parliament does not elect the Commission president. They only get to veto. Its an election with only one candidate!

        To simply state that ‘the governance of the EU is more democratic than the UK” does not make it true. Indeed it is demonstrably false. The EU political executive is unelected and cannot be removed by the electorate. The EU parliament is the only parliament in the world that cannot propose and make laws. The EU Commission has far too much political power (that is not the reason it is not directly elected – where do you get this stuff from? Are you just making it up?). The reason it is not directly elected is so that it cannot be accountable to the electorate. When you are not accountable to the electorate and yet still make the rules – that is close to absolute power!

      5. So we’ve moved from the claim that the EU parliament does not elect the Commission president to well… Err… They do but they can only vote for or against!

        The Conservative Party chose May to be their leader, but to be PM she needs the confidence of parliament.

        These are *basic* facts. I really don’t know why you persist in disagreeing.

        The house of Lords is entirely unelected and neither is it appointed by elected representatives (except for a minority of new members)

        You cannot argue that the EU is less Democratic than Westminster because the democratic accountability is much clearer. The parliament and the Council are directly elected and the executive is appointed by directly elected people. We cannot say the same for Westminster. However much you may wish to malign the EU

      6. Yes – the EU parliament does not elect the President. If there is an election with only one candidate its not an election – unless you are in North Korea or, as you apparently think, the EU. I would not want to equate the two!

        Are you really unaware of how the UK PM is chosen? They are elected leader of their party and if their party is available to form a government (usually the majority party), then they are invited to become PM by the Queen (a constitutional formality). The House of Commons does not hold an election on who should be PM!

        The House of Lords should be abolished – but it has no real political power (its like the EU parliament).

        I have already given you the reasons why the UK is more democratic than the EU – none of which you have answered….

        The reason I am persisting is because your basic facts are not facts – they display a level of ignorance which I was trying to correct – but I am now beginning to think that you are just being awkward and show no real interest in the facts – so forgive me – you’re done – unless you come up with something sensible and factual.

  2. I realise that it’s a claim that the government makes often, but its a bit misleading to say that 80% of votes went to parties that support brexit.

    Many tory and Labour MPs have rejected their party’s position on brexit and were elected by constituents full in the knowledge of this.

    My own MP opposes brexit and was voted in by 63% – far higher than the national brexit majority – and in a constituency that backed remain. I find it frustrating when people suggest that because leave won the referendum that people necessarily have to support that result. It’s as if the normal rules of democracy have been suspended for an absolute monarch named King Brexit!

    1. They stood on their parties manifesto with a promise to implement it. Are you saying they lied? And yes – when you have a referendum which was agreed by parliament – and when it was promised that the result would be carried out – of course you have to respect it. That is the normal rules of democracy…but as you point out when it comes to the EU it seems as though democratic rules don’t count!

      1. I can’t speak for all MPs who oppose their party policy, but certainly my MP was clear that he opposed brexit at election time.

        It’s not respecting the referendum result to ignore the 48%

      2. The government certainly has in its Brexit negotiations, which is partially why they suffered the largest vote against them in modern political history.

        If the government had produced a compromise deal then it probably would have passed.

      3. It was a compromise deal. Thats why it didn’t pass. The Brexiteers didn’t like it and the ‘we must stay in the EU at any cost’ MPs also didn’t like it.

      4. It’s not a compromise deal. It’s a brexit only deal. It fails to address any of the concerns of the 48% of us who voted remain.

      5. Given that the question was – do we remain in the EU or leave…there seems to be a real problem with your logic…you seem to be suggesting that to respect the 48% we should have remained in?! Her deal is actually a kind of half in and half out and does address some of the concerns raised. Please don’t be so simplistic and extreme….try to think before posting in future…

  3. I think it’s bizarre to suggest that the EU might be frightened into a better deal if we threaten them with no deal.

    They obviously don’t want no deal, but we are by far the junior partner here and no deal will hurt us much more than them. The EU is not a small island nation off the coast of the UK!

    The benefit of ruling out no deal is that it would bring stability to business and ordinary British and Irish people who stand to lose the most from brexit.

      1. Again please stop arguing against things I haven’t said.

        I do think that pretending the EU is more desperate for a deal than we are has lead us to the chaos we are currently in.

      2. No -one was arguing that. Both need a deal. The chaos is because of a weak government and politicians who don’t know how to lead.

      3. In your article you claim that No Deal must remain on the table otherwise the EU will offer us a bad deal.

        I’m saying that I disagree with this assessment because everyone at the negotiating table knows that no deal would be considerably worse for the U.K. than the EU. What I mean is that threatening the EU with no deal is like threatening the electricity company with the suggestion that you might live without electricity.

      4. Not much to say to someone who thinks that the UK (the second largest contributor to the EU and one of its major trading partners) is equivalent to one of millions of customers of an electricity company!

    1. “I think it’s bizarre to suggest that the EU might be frightened into a better deal if we threaten them with no deal”

      What I find bizarre is to hope that the EU would offer as good a deal to a leaving member state that indicated that it would accept any offer at all, rather leave with no deal, as it would offer to a member state that had negotiated throughout with two options, deal or no deal.

      1. So what do you mean by sovereign if they are not permitted to make decisions?!!

      2. They make the laws and are not subject to the EU – they don’t hand over their sovereignty to the EU. Ironically if you are arguing for the EU you are arguing for sovereignty to be handed over.

      3. And they have not handed back power to the EU. They have merely disagreed with the PMs plan.

        To take a simple binary vote (with a slim majority) and say that we must therefore do whatever the PM decides is certainly not parliamentary democracy! Especially when she does not command a majority.

      4. Remain want to remain in the EU

        Parliamentary sovereignty means parliament get to decide things on the behalf of voters.

        Lots of voters elected their MPs *because* of their position on Brexit (amongst other things).

        Given that I know several mixed nationality families, I made my vote for the candidate I thought was most likely to protect their interests and I am glad to say that he was duly elected and voted against the Brexit deal.

        This is how parliamentary democracy works. It isn’t a case of everyone must agree with the PM because she claims to be backing the will of the people. The will of the people was expressed throughnour parliamentary representatives.

      5. You seem to forget that our parliamentary representatives in their sovereignty said that in this one decision they would allow the people to decide and they promised to enact our decision.

  4. David, thank you for this. You summarise well the divisions, and while I would not share 100% of your analysis, I do share the main thrust as the EU has never made any secret of its desire for an ever-closer union of the peoples of Europe, successive Westminster governments, starting with Ted Heath, chose to speak of it as purely an economic arrangement. The divergence in narratives between the UK as opposed to the rest of the EU, especially the founding six – an economic project, rather than the most successful peace and prosperity project in Western Europe (don’t forget the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 – has played a significant part in making the UK’s decision to leave inevitable when the people were given a real choice.

    You are also right to highlight the irony of the Labour Party wanting to stick to the Single Market, which you term “Thatcherism in Europe”, but you ignore the irony of the ERG, the fiercest defenders of Mrs Thatcher and all her works, being the keenest to trash the Single Market, which was the Conservative Party’s greatest legacy in the EU. Strange times indeed.

    On what happens next, fair play to you on what happens next, because no one has a clue. On Ireland though, there is no chance the EU will go against Ireland on the backstop, for three reasons. (1) The EU believes that the backstop is necessary to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, and international treaty of which it is a guarantor. It takes it obligations as guarantor of treaties very seriously, and it will not break them for political expedeincy here, ie to appease the DUP. (2) Why should the EU favour a departing member – the UK – over a continuing member, Ireland? It would kill the EU, since it would send a message to all those countries which aren’t one of the big 4 (France, Germany, Italy, UK – although Spain and Poland would like to be considered the equal of the big 4, they are not, especially Poland), that their interests will be sacrificed for the expediency of big power politics. There is no chance they will go against the wishes of Dublin to solve London’s, and particularly the Conservative Party’s psychodrama. (3) When the UK leaves, there will be 3 land borders between the UK and the EU, even if the London media only ever talks of one. In Cyprus, the arrangements are covered in the Withdrawal Agreement, Gibraltar likewise, although we saw some ludicrous Spanish posturing last Autumn. The biggest land border will be on the island of Ireland and the EU does not want a disorderly border/wide-open backdoor into the single market.

    One of the greatest disgraces of Theresa May’s handing over the time since she lost her majority in 2017 (you said 2016 in the article, which must be a typo) is that the more than 1.2 million UK citizens in the other EU 27 have had much more contact with Michel Barnier than any UK minister, and it has been Guy Verhofstadt and the European Parliament who have defended our interests while the ERG and UK government have called us citizens of nowhere, queue jumpers and left us to fend for ourselves and reliant on the goodwill of the individual governments. Here in Belgium, we got our first information of any information campaign from the British Embassy yesterday, with a video message from the ambassador on the embassy website. That is a scandal, with salt rubbed into the wound when the PM spoke of the uncertainty EU nationals in the UK and UK citizens in the 27 at the beginning of her statement immediately after suffering the largest ever government defeat.

    I know some prefer no deal. From my personal circumstances, with one child already at a UK university, another hoping to start in the autumn and a third three years further back, some degree of certainty for them would be nice. At least they will be able to get Belgian nationality in time, which will restore to them the freedom to travel, study and work which I have enjoyed, but the removal of which the Prime Minister always cites as the greatest benefit of “her deal”. For those of us most immediately and inescapably affected by this, the callousness of this government is its defining characteristic.

  5. Superb analysis dear brother. An understandable, digestible and balanced summary of a confusing situation. Keep up the good work.

  6. A great piece David.

    I am an oil and gas negotiator. Anyone in my team ( or any team) who was stupid enough to say that we insist on acquiring X field, NO MATTER THE TERMS would be fired without hope of ever having a job again. The sheer madness of “taking No Deal” off the table simply horrifies and (really) revolts me. It cannot be a good faith position. If you are not prepared to walk away from a deal you will never ever do a good deal.

    The EU only knows too well the pathetic state of the British Establishment. To think that May is the heir to the party of Thatcher and Churchill!

    At least the poor Greeks fought!

    And the SNP are the worst. If nothing else, the SNP is a party of the one-shot binding constitutional referendum. Having now trashed the largest popular vote in British history what respect do they think that a successful Indyref 2 would have?


  7. It is indeed a mess David—
    I find it a bit ironic that both the UK and the US seem to be mirroring one another in their respective messes… with the sane amongst us being squeezed to death.
    No being British, Scottish, Welch or Irish…I would appear not to “have a dog in this fight” —and so as a Yank I should keep my opinion to myself.
    But being a kindred spirit of ancestry…I have felt very strongly about the go stance.
    I have not seen the benefits of staying in the EU outweighing the benefits of
    remaining–of once again becoming a sovereign nation.

    Yet living on this side of the pond, I do not live the nuances as you do.
    But a key issue as you observe is the matter of “convenience”
    Is that the real issue at stake?

    Like you, I feel somewhat overwhelmed and even depressed over both of our countries political and governmental woes.
    Yes, may God have mercy and direct our paths

    Thank you, David, for explaining—It would behoove Americans to know that often times, so goes Britain, so we go as well…and vice-a-versa.

  8. With the passage of decades many people today are simply not aware that the 1975 referendum was for a common market – NOT for a single super-state. The facts that you so clearly laid out, David, are simply not understood under the tsunami of misleading news and commentary. The EEC and the EU are totally different – as per Jekyll and Hyde.

    1. That was a very long time ago. Perhaps it is a reason for the generational divide in voting. Over 60s tended to vote leave – perhaps feeling they were lied to in 1975 was part of it. Under 40s tended to vote remain – have never experienced life outside of the EU.

  9. “…for most Leavers it was the question of sovereignty not immigration.” Please can you give a reference that supports this statement? Thank you,

      1. I am a little confused by the study you linked. Unless I missed something, the charts show that a slim majority of the leave voters did in fact vote mainly to gain control of immigration.
        As far as I can make out the study shows that remain voters overestimated the intentions of leave voters and overestimated the percentage that voted to leave over the issue of immigration but the data still shows that immigration was the primary factor.

      2. For some of us the issue is exactly as David has outlined – this vote wasn’t about immigration but about sovereignty. In fact, the referendum was really at least 20 years too late – no Prime Minister had the courage to hand it over to the people when we were signing all the treaties with the EU because they knew public opinion would have been more than 2-1 against going deeper into the EU at the time. Neither Major nor Blair could be seen to take the risk and lose face. The only reason why the vote in 2016 was so close is that a new generation wasn’t aware of the extent the British public had been kept in the dark; effectively we’ve been more used to being a part of the EU that people have forgotten how we got there. Now, these people want to usurp democracy and are trying to call for a supposed ‘democratic people’s vote’! So tell me, what was June 2016 if it wasn’t a people’s vote?!

  10. Excellent summary article David. But can you explain your thinking about the SNP blowing the Indy plan? Can’t get my head round that since Scotland voted decisively for Remain? Jim

    1. Thanks Jim….its quite straightforward. Despite all the political parties, leaders, and all civic institutions only 1.6 million Scots voted for the UK to stay in the EU (one million voted to leave). The key is that 1/3 of SNP supporters voted to leave the EU and many of those who voted for Remain were Unionists. What the SNP have done is alienated lots of their supporters. They have put the EU before Independence by basically stating that if the UK stayed in the EU, there would be no need for another Indy Rf.

      That was all bad enough (from an Indy point of view) but then Sturgeon (without consulting her party) made a unilateral decision to support a second EU referendum. SNP stalwarts like Jim Sillars immediately recognised the danger. If the SNP supported a 2nd EU referendum after ‘the deal’ had been discovered then it sets a precedent. So IF there is another Indy referendum and IF the SNP won it (highly unlikely as despite the mess over Brexit support for Indy is static) then all the UK government would have to do is offer a really bad deal – and insist on a 2nd referendum on the deal….

      For those of us who have been involved with the SNP for years we cannot believe how stupid the leadership has been.

      1. The trouble is that Cameron campaigned against Scottish Independence on the basis that it would mean Scotland leaving the EU.

        It’s hard not to see the argument that the Scottish people were mislead as now they are leaving the EU against the majority will.

        There’s a very obvious argument there that Scottish voters may prefer to be in the EU than the U.K., given that they don’t have the option for both (and don’t have the immigration concerns that England and Wales do)

      2. Peter – you write a lot of comments on my blog – far too many of them just seem to be off the cuff remarks about your impressions. You will forgive me in limiting some of your posts in the future – unless you actually provide evidence or ask genuine questions. So for example your comment that Cameron campaigned against Scottish Indy because it would mean Scotland leaving the EU. He didn’t. He campaigned on the benefits of the UK, the economy, the cost etc….Europe was only a minor factor – after the EU threatened Scotland (ironic that the SNP have forgotten all this).

        The Scottish people were not misled. We are not stupid. And I know of no one who actually voted against Indy because of their love of the EU! Some Scottish voters may prefer to be in the EU rather than the UK. Many don’t.

  11. Why did we have a referendum in 2016? Dominic Lawson traces the reasoning back to its origins in this article which he wrote just after the referendum, explaining why it was that support for UKIP had increased so much – it was David Cameron’s advocacy of same-sex marriage that drove large numbers of grass-roots Tories out of the party and straight into the arms of UKIP.

    (It’s not the first one on the webpage, but the second one, titled “Gay marriage and a bitter Brexit divorce”. Scroll down to find it.)

    The final sentence speculates that Cameron reduced his political career to ruination because the Law of Unintended Consequences applied to his support for same-sex marriage. Right now we can see that perhaps the consequences have extended to the ruination of the Conservative Party as a credible party of government. I wonder whether the ruinous consequences will extend even further?

  12. You pose the question why there has been chaos recently in Parliament.

    I’ve been observing our UK Parliament more closely lately than I have ever before in my life, including by accessing for hours on end live coverage of the Commons debates during two crucial days of this week. In the process, I haven’t observed anything that I would describe as “chaos” myself. What the dickens are you talking about, in posing that question?

    Maybe your expectations are too high. The wise animals mentioned in the last chapter of Proverbs, who, having no king, nevertheless move together in a co-ordinated way, are not intended to be a metaphor, I suspect, for how we ought to expect legislatures to behave, whom I expect to argue amongst themselves much as I have enjoyed listening to them doing.

    1. Its something that all the politicians, all the media and all the commentators agree on – parliament is in chaos. Thats what I’m talking about. They have been charged with making and enacting a decision – something which they seem to be incapable of doing…

  13. The decision to leave or remain should never have been a democratic referendum, but law requires it.
    Much better to have had a 2 year period of economists, financial analysts, third sector reps and others, but no politicians.
    How could the voter, informed by media and politicians and with little knowledge of economics ever make a reasoned decision when emotions are involved.
    Hence the chaos….

  14. “The EU parliament is the only elected parliament in the world which does not get it propose its own laws.”

    Isn’t this the case for the British parliament also and part of the whole debacle? (Laws can only be passed proposed by government).

    I think you sum it up well. Though some of your bias is still quite unfair “well-financed Remainers “, without mentioning that the leave campaign overspent and broke electoral law. It is a decisive issue, so there is no trouble finding financing on either side.

    I still think the problem is that Britain is itself fundamentally undemocratic with a strong centralised government. Parliament with a first past the post system forcing a binary choice where one is forced to vote for the least hated option rather than who we think would be good. The majority forms a government, whose front bench then decides policy, and is the sole group that can put forth laws, therefore stifling any debate or creativity. With Theresa May character, that issue is exacerbated.

    But I appreciate your comment on immigration. I personally think that if May the day after the vote had gone for a Swiss option, remainers would have put up with it, and it would have satisfied many Brexiteers who just wanted out. It would not have fully solved all the issues, but it would have been a half way house which included taking back much control (though not all), but still maintaining the economic link and the possibility to make our own trade deals. I think the determination of remainers has in some sense been emboldened by her obsession on her red lines, claiming it was the will of the people, yet nobody know what the exact proportion of that will was on the specifics as it was never in the question.

    It is a mess.

  15. Going back to the original question, “Why is there chaos in Parliament?”
    In the referendum we were told that the Government would carry out the wishes of the majority. The majority voted to leave the EU. However, as the majority of MP’S are firmly in the remain camp and are quite happy with the status quo is it any wonder they are in chaos and will do anything to thwart Brexit. We did not vote for, a second referendum, delay Article 50, revoke Article 50 or have a backstop, we voted to leave.
    Basically it is Parliament and the EU versus people. Many people who had previously never voted took part in the Referendum and after this debacle are unlikely to vote again, and who can blame them? The illusion of democracy has finally been revealed. What is particularly distasteful is listening to MP’s repeating the mantra,”I respect the referendum result”, when they clearly do not. The problem they have is that their views conflict with those of their constituents and the majority who voted leave. More respect would be gained if they had the conviction and courage to speak the truth.
    It seems as though we are falling into the EU trap once again as they demonstrate that once your in you can’t get out.
    Over the years our sovereignty was sold to the EU by Parliament without any referendums.
    We must have the courage to take it back, and then remember how our respective elected representatives have performed during this process.

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