Britain Europe Media Politics

Brexit – Bercow’s Coup and Britain’s Destruction

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances….

Shakespeare – As You Like It.

I have enormous respect for politicians.   After all I once wanted to be one. They have a difficult and often thankless task.   Those in the media and the general public who regard our political leaders as worthy only of satire and contempt have done a great deal of harm in undermining our democracy. Being critical is one thing – being contemptuous another.  But in the UK at this time it is hard to exaggerate the contempt in which the majority of politicians are held – largely because of the contempt they have shown for the electorate.  It is a depressing and dangerous situation.  How has this come about?

 This article from Vernon Bogdanor  professor of government at King’s College London and a constitutional expert is the best thing I have read in terms of explaining the mess we are in.

Looking at the sorry performance of the House of Commons elected in 2017, it is difficult to avoid remembering Winston Churchill’s condemnation of the parliaments of the 1930s as being “decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent”. Parliament has shown itself not to be the solution to Brexit but the problem.

Stop the Coup

As the date for Brexit gets nearer the gloves really have come off, and the hysteria is being worked up into an alarming pitch.  First we had the notion being put around that Boris Johnson by proroguing parliament was creating a coup.  The facts that prorogation happens every year, and that only three days debating time would be lost for parliament were largely ignored.  Why?  Because facts have nothing to do with what is happening.  The attempt is always to create a climate of fear.


They don’t want to ‘stop the coup’ – there is no coup, at least not in the sense they are talking about – they want to prevent democracy.  (As usual Spiked nails it in this article.)

Stop the Election

Now ‘Stop the Coup’ has become ‘Stop the Election’.  When you have a parliament that has taken over from the government and refuses to allow the government to enact its policies it is normal to have a general election so that the people can choose a new government.   But because of the ‘Fixed Term Parliaments’ Act, (yet another foolish legacy left us by Cameron and Clegg),  Boris Johnson is not able to hold an election and is in effect being held prisoner by his opponents.   The spurious argument used is that this is necessary to prevent Johnson taking the UK out of the EU on the 31st of October anyway.  Why is that spurious?  Because if the election is held on October the 15th then the new government could cancel Brexit…if it were Labour/SNP and the Lib-Dems.  So why are they not prepared to have an election?  Because they can read the opinion polls and they know it is likely that Johnson would be returned with a substantial majority.

Survation Poll:

Boris – 46%,  Corbyn – 26%

Political class best serving best interests of country – N0 – 75%, Yes 13%

Should there be an early election:  Yes 48%, No 31%

Corbyn PM v. No Deal – Corbyn – 31%  No Deal 52%

Screenshot 2019-09-08 21.48.10I think that there has been a coup.  But it is not Johnson’s – it is Bercow’s.  The Speaker of the House of Commons sees himself as some kind of political supremo who will prevent Brexit. He should be the ringmaster, keeping order.  Instead he sees himself as the ring leader – creating disorder in order to prevent Brexit.   With the aid of the majority of Labour MPs, the SNP, the Lib Dems, the Remainer Tories and the EU he is ensuring that the UK will not leave the EU on the 31st of October.

Johnson is in a bind.  He has promised that we will leave on the 31st and if that does not happen because he is forced to go to ask the EU for an extension, then he will lose the upcoming General Election.    If he refuses then he will be disobeying the law passed by parliament and has even threatened with jail!   If he resigns then there is no telling what will happen and which of the Remainers will take over.

There has been a coup.  But it is a coup of MPs against the government and the electorate.  They refuse to pass what 80% of them had promised to pass – and they refuse to let the electorate decide.  When the Prime Minister is being threatened with jail by those who have taken over the parliament, it’s clear who has created the coup.

Screenshot 2019-09-07 15.58.03 Politicians

In all of this the chutzpah, deceit and arrogant of so many politicians is breathtaking.

The Government: Although I have some sympathy with the Prime Minister, (because of the vicious attacks he is facing and the bind that has been placed upon him), I struggle to trust him and doubt whether he will be able to deliver what he has promised.     I am sure that many of his fellow Conservatives think the game is up, they will abandon him anyway.  Tories are not exactly the model of loyalty when it comes to party leaders.

Phillip Hammond, May’s chancellor, has admitted taking legal advice from the EU on his efforts to thwart Brexit in alleged comments to Boris Johnson.   The 21 Tory Remainer MPs have also admitted that they consulted with the EU BEFORE they voted against the government.  This astonishing article demonstrates that the leaders of the 21 Tory rebels met with EU officials before the vote last week. It is almost beyond irony that they complain about alleged (and unproven)  foreign (Russian) interference in the referendum, whilst they are negotiating with a foreign power in order to overturn the vote of the UK electorate.

The Labour Party is in a farcical mess.   If Boris Johnson is being held prisoner by parliament, it seems as though Jeremy Corbyn, a life long EU sceptic, is being held prisoner by his own party establishment.  Watch this short clip from Questiontime – and remember that Emily Thornberry is in line to become the next foreign secretary of the United Kingdom.

The Labour party policy is to go to the EU and negotiate a new deal for leaving.  Then to put their new deal to the people in a referendum where the Labour party will then campaign against its own deal!   Disturbing as it is that this is Labour party policy (confirmed yesterday by John McConnell) there is worse.  Because Labour will not allow ‘no deal’ to be on the referendum paper.  We will have a referendum where one option will be something we already rejected, and the other will be something that the proposers reject!

The Lib Dems – are so fanatically pro-EU that Jo Swinson said that even if the people voted in a second referendum she would not accept it if there is a second referendum which votes to leave the EU, they will not accept that.  This is a position that is taken by many of the more fanatical Remainers – eg watch this fascinating video right through to the end to see just how far we have gone down the rabbit hole!

The Greens – campaign for 10,000 lorries per day to travel through Dover whilst campaigning against ordinary people being able to fly to Europe for their holidays.

The SNP – continue with their disingenuous policy of campaigning to leave one union whilst also campaigning to stay in an even larger one.   They claim they are working with the Unionist parties because they want to spare the UK the economic misery of leaving its biggest market, whilst at the same time campaigning for Scotland to leave its biggest market – a market which is vastly more important to the Scottish economy than the EU.

Not all SNP politicians though have bought into the narrative.   This excellent letter from Jim Sillars was in the Times this weekend. He states succinctly where the real coup is.

SIR – The schedule of the Bill being passed this week instructs the Prime Minister to sign and send a letter surrendering his government and its foreign policy to a foreign power, the EU.

What we have witnessed is not democracy but the first Vichy Parliament in British history.

Jim Sillars

Watching Iain Blackford on the same Question time programme referred to above was depressing – he came across as a boorish bully.  And that brings up another issue.

The Language and Tone of our Politicians is ‘unStatesmanlike’

For example this tweet from the Labour MP David Lammy is sadly not unique.

Screenshot 2019-09-08 08.37.48I wrote a post explaining the prorogation of Parliament as I understood it.  Mike Russell, a Scottish Government minister, weighed in with a rather sneering remark about my being in Australia affecting my judgement. He then followed that up by mentioning that I am a minister of religion. Why does that matter? Because my Twitter feed soon filled with bile, hatred and anti-religious bigotry. Mike is not stupid. He knows that bringing up religion will result in some Cybernats getting stuck in….its what we call in the trade a ‘dog whistle’….(in the same way as for example Trump might mention ‘Mexicans’ or Muslims)’. The SNP publicly distance themselves from some of their more extreme Cybernats….but they are still not averse to using them to silence and attack opposition…

And this goes way beyond yours truly. Twitter is filled with bile – none more so that Philp Pullman’s suggestion that someone would hang Boris Johnson. It happens on all sides…but those who are senior politicians, or ‘celebrities’ should not be stirring up hatred online – whether they are from the Right or Left.

Or if you want to see the standard of debate have a look at this rather juvenile exchange.

The Media:

The BBC has tried to be impartial but in the past week, all pretence of impartiality has gone.   Likewise with Sky News, ITV and other broadcast media outlets.   Let me just give one example…I heard Radio 4 news give a government minister a torrid time, which I suppose is fair enough.  After all is the idea not to ask the difficult questions and push for answers? Except the item immediately following was an interview with an EU spokesperson – it could hardly have been more mild and sycophantic.   I cannot recall one single time that the EU has been questioned with any degree of throughness by a BBC journalist.

And they should be.  One group of politicians we have not looked at is the EU.  William Shawcross in The Spectator  provides us with the following quotes from EU leaders.

After a meeting at No. 10, Verhofstadt says to a colleague: ‘They’re going nowhere. They are stuck.’ On another occasion the two are seen drinking a toast to each other, and joyfully concluding: ‘We are together for two years — yeah. And then the transition period for another three years. At least!’

In one scene of the BBC documentary we hear two of the EU team laughing about the British people: ‘We got rid of them. We kicked them out. We finally turned them into a colony, and that was our plan from the first moment.’

Where is the scrutiny of the EU leaders?  They are always presented as brilliant tacticians and people who just want the best for everyone.

But again I think it is the language that the media use which is troubling…it’s often not just hyperbolic but superficial and silly.  Take this from Sky News –  Screenshot 2019-09-07 08.00.58When you have a major news channel regarding this as somehow major ‘breaking news’ you know that we are well beyond normal rational discourse in this country.

The Church

I have written about this here – What can the Church do about Brexit?

But let me give this one example…

Screenshot 2019-09-07 08.27.13

This is quite simply the weaponisation of prayer.   And it is wrong.  I don’t pray for Brexit to happen because I try to pray in accord with the will of God and I don’t know what God’s will is on this.  I pray for peace and justice and for all our political leaders – but not just for the outcome that I think is right.  Because I could be wrong.

It’s not just the media – it’s the whole political and civil establishment.   Whether its’ police chief Superintendents, University principals or C of E bishops – they constantly drum home how evil Brexit is and keep presenting us with ever-increasing disaster scenarios.  I think the frustration with this is best illustrated by this letter which was I think in The Times…



And this is where the real danger lies.   There is clearly an economic danger with Brexit (although some would argue that the economic danger is just as great with staying in the EU), but the political danger from our politicians cancelling Brexit is far, far greater.  I think the most likely outcome is that the Establishment will get their way and Brexit will be either cancelled or watered down to the point of BINO (Brexit In Name Only).  Although the combination of the threat of the Brexit party, Dominic Cummings being Johnson’s chief advisor,  and the EU’s intransigence and arrogance, means that there is a slight possibility that Brexit might actually happen.  Time will tell.

Thomas Kremer, a Hungarian Jew, is cited in Shawcross’s article –

‘The British people,’ he wrote, ‘are being asked by their own political leaders to weaken, or even surrender, those very rights, decision-making powers, institutions, laws, self governing habits that alone can guarantee a degree of individual freedom enjoyed by very few other nations in the world.’

The majority of our politicians are, knowingly or inadvertently, selling out our democracy and our freedom to govern ourselves.  The fact that they do so in the name of democracy is no more relevant than some authoritarian regime stating that they are making war in the name of peace.

Some of our politicians are arrogant, thinking they are far smarter than the people they are supposed to represent.  Some are not actually that intelligent and genuinely believe that they are saving the world by keeping the UK in the EU.  Others are quite simply cowards – looking to do whatever they can to further or keep their own careers.  And sadly, all too many are just out and out deceitful liars (a charge that could be made for some on all sides!). There are also those who have a genuine sense of public duty and are basically honest and decent – even if they have different views.

It is a profoundly depressing situation – and one that would make me despair and get angry if it were not for my faith in Christ.  And by that I do not mean that Jesus will bring us Brexit…or keep us in the EU.  I mean that he can, and does, work all things for the good of those who love him.  It may be that he says to the UK politicians – go your own way – and watches as they destroy themselves and us.   Perhaps it is only that which will turn us back in repentance and faith.  But my prayer is that he will have mercy on us – if not then I’m afraid the UK is finished.   It really is that serious…

Is Britain Breaking Up?

Footnote:  After writing this Bercow has resigned today…he will stay until his work of keeping us in the EU is done (until October the 31st).  But in a fascinating demonstration of the truth of this article (and of how the EU works by rewarding its servants who do their bidding) see this reaction from Verhofstadt towards our ‘neutral’ Speaker…

Screenshot 2019-09-09 17.43.49





  1. It is a long and thoughtful article – and I need time to digest it and respond again. This is therefore just an initial response, not a detailed analysis of the article. I think Brexit will happen – the people voted for it. I don’t have much sympathy for the pursuit of another referendum. But the fear of a No Deal Brexit is very real. Many of those who defied the Tory Whip are principled politicians who have been in Parliament for decades. They are not habitual rebels. My perception is that the feeling is Johnson’s pursuit of a date may have direst economic and other consequences. And the anxiety for Ireland is very real.

    1. And also: Johnson was foolish to state, on the record, that he intends to break any law passed (with or without the Speaker) that he objects to.
      Concede that one as valid and you might as well shut down Parliament, sack the police and the courts, and revert to the rule of any thug who can establish his authority over a gang.
      (An environment with which Johnson, who famously offered to have a witness in a criminal trial beaten up, is likely be more comfortable than most of us should like.)
      That’s a basic functional principle of civilisation that should have nothing to do with which side you take in the current debacle.
      As for “die in a ditch”, this is the man who swore to his wretched constituents that he’d lie down in front of a bulldozer to prevent the third runway at Heathrow: on the day they found he’d wangled a convenient trip to somewhere as far away as possible in order to avoid even voting.
      The fact is that Brexiters don’t trust him to deliver either deal or no deal, while those opposed don’t trust him not to crash through no deal, with or outwith the law, regardless of the consequences. And his record suggests that none of them are unreasonable to do so.
      If we want to change the constitution to rule by plebiscite, shut down Parliament (or reduce it to a mere talking shop) and have an executive President exempting himself and those he favours from the law, let us at least start with a decent and trustworthy human being, or at least someone prepared to act as one. Let Mugabe, now finally gone beyond human laws and justice, be the last of his kind.

      1. This whole debacle over the working of the British Constitution can not be simplistically reduced to a one of rule by plebiscite.
        At the minimum it ignores the article referred to by the prof Bogdanor,,from King’s College, Treaty negotiations by the Executive, and collective responsiblity, not the Commons, and ignores the plebiscite that took us into the EU.
        The Commons has demonstrated a collective inability to agree in a febrile collective cross and interparty, party contention, which is hardly surprising.
        Not keen on any of them, but a General election could vote Johnson out as it votes his party out and without the fixed term. Parliament it would take place.
        And really anyone who thought that Johnson could guarantee leaving on 31 Oct, isn’t really thinking at all. However, large parts of the electorate could well conclude that he’s done all he could, within his power, but was thwarted by all those vested interest opposed to leaving.
        If I have reservations about leaving now, after 3 years, it would be about the competence to negotiate worldwide Treaties.

  2. David, you said the following in your article above:

    ‘I wrote a post explaining the prorogation of Parliament as I understood it. Mike Russell, a Scottish Government minister, weighed in with a rather sneering remark about my being in Australia affecting my judgement. He then followed that up by mentioning that I am a minister of religion. Why does that matter?’

    I noted the Twitter exchange between you and Mike Russell at the time and it played out somewhat differently to how you describe it.

    For the sake of transparency, I set out the actual sequence of tweets below:

    1. Lesley Riddoch tweeted:
    ‘Unlike revolutionary Irish & cottage-burning Welsh, Scots are almost compulsively law-abiding – God love us. Johnson’s attack on parliamentary democracy may not bother southern Leave voters, but I’ll bet it scares the hell out of order-loving No voters.’

    2. David Robertson tweeted (reply to Lesley Riddoch):
    ‘Please don’t use the fake narrative that this is an ‘attack on democracy’ or a ‘coup’. It’s an irresponsible statement from a journalist who is normally responsible.’

    3. Mike Russell tweeted (reply to David Robertson):
    ‘Except it is…tho as @theweeflea is resident in Australia it might look different from that distance …’

    4. David Robertson tweeted (publically broadcast tweet with reference to Mike Russell):
    ‘Mike Russell Scottish Government minister thinks that my being a Scot living in Australia disqualifies me from commenting. He doesn’t want you to read this…so if you don’t want to upset the Scottish government’

    5. Mike Russell tweeted (reply to David Robertson)
    ‘This isn’t true and it is at the very least naughty of a minister of religion to misrepresent what someone said. For the record I suggested things might look different from where you are now . I never mentioned disqualification .’

    I am certainly no fan of Mike Russell, the SNP, or the cause of Scottish independence, but I am a Christian and as such I am a fan of integrity. It seems to me (as it did to others on twitter) that you badly twisted the meaning of Mike Russell’s tweet for the purposes of a your own self-promotion. In doing so you effectively lied about what Mike Russell had actually said. This showed a lack of Christian integrity on your part, which is damaging to your Christian witness.

    It is quite understandable that Mike Russell drew attention to your status as a minister of religion since your words/actions were in this case at odds with your calling. He was right to call you out on that. I believe it would benefit your ongoing witness if you showed humility and apologised to him, rather than perpetuating misrepresentation.

    1. I suppose I should be flattered that someone takes the time to copy my tweets…but I find it a wee bit obsessive…

      I accept your self testimony that you are a ‘fan of integrity’ but don’t be so quick to dismiss me or others as not sharing that same integrity. Mike Russell knew exactly what he was saying – instead of commenting on the substance of my point he chose instead to suggest that my location affected my judgement (despite my only have been away for two months – and having, as he knows, the exact same sources in Australia as I had in Scotland). He knows that there are people who made comments about ‘running away to Australia’ and indeed he has his own personal remarks to make on that. I did not lie about Mike Russell’s words….I did not falsely quote them – I summarised his position and what he was doing.

      It’s sad that as a professing Christian with a self=professed love for integrity, you then go on to lie about my motivation for challenging Mike Russell. I did not do it for self promotion. In what possible world does that promote myself? What a nasty and vicious lie (all done out of concern for Christian witness!).

      Mike drew attention to my status as a minister of religion not because of a high view of my calling, but because he was mocking and giving a dog whistle to the Cybernats – who he knew would jump on that….and lo and behold it worked – the hate messages duly arrived.

      Thanks for your concern for my ‘on going witness’ – but you will forgive me if I have some doubt in believing that – given that you posted this in public and accused me both of lying and self-promotion…I have many things to apologise for – but I won’t apologise for something that I don’t think I got wrong. No matter how much you or others try to bully me into so doing…

  3. ” But my prayer is that he will have mercy on us – if not then I’m afraid the UK is finished. ”

    That has been my own daily prayer for a considerable time. As a nation, we have rejected Almighty God; we have travelled far from Him; the church has, largely, failed to be a prophetic voice to the nation; and we are, surely, reaping what we have sowed. All that we can do is to throw ourselves on the mercy of God.

    I pray that, even at this late hour, He will raise up leaders who acknowledge Him, and who seek to walk in His ways.

  4. It seems to me that Bercow’s “bias” is to giving Parliament a strong voice, rather than being biased against Brexit.

    It happens that the Government is trying to get Brexit through against strong opposition from Parliament, so some of Bercow’s decisions can *seem* anti-Brexit, but I think that is a side-effect of Bercow upholding what he understands as Parliament’s constitutional role.

    1. It’s not about giving Parliament a strong voice – except insofar as parliament agrees with him. He has been incredibly partisan – as well as a pompous bully.

    2. Why on earth should Parliament have a “strong voice?” It has lost its legitimacy. It does not represent the British people.

  5. My , David , You are honoured in receiving a personal reply from Mike Russell. I am one of his constituents and have e mailed him several times on different topics , only to receive the same reply from a lady I take to be on his staff . The reply ,”We must beg to differ!”

    Never, have Members of Parliament ( whatever their party) been so far out of touch with the thinking and mood of the people !

  6. Now we have, true British, very public religion, with conversion testimonies, stories from the selfish darkness of leave to the light of remain being promoted.


    Mr Robertson,

    I have always found your writings of great help, especially when bringing clarity to the challenging issues of our day.

    However, it would appear that the proroguing of parliament was not a conventional use of the power, but indeed an attempt by the executive to frustrate the scrutiny of parliament.

    I voted to leave the EU but the manner in which the PM is running the country is simply unacceptable.

    Were Indy ref 2 happening tomorrow I would probably change my vote from No to Yes, such is my concern regarding events in Westminster.

    I would interested to hear your thoughts.

    Thank you.

    1. Thanks Alistair – The proroguing of parliament in this way is both conventional and non-conventional…but its interesting when someone does something unconventional that we like (like the Speaker for example destroying Parliamentary convention) they are praised. When we don’t like it we cite convention!

      Its also a bit naive to think that Parliament were going to scrutinise. They have three years to do so and three more days would make no difference. They are out to frustrate and stop Brexit…but none of them wants to be seen to go against the referendum.

      Having voted Yes to Indy last time I doubt I would do so this time. Holyrood is a disaster – they are destroying Scotland and want to subjugate us to the EU….

    2. “Such is my concern regarding events in Westminster”

      Yes. Remainer MPs have taken legal advice oand gained assurances from Brussels, Berlin and Paris before pushing through the “Surrender Act.”

      In that context, what would Indyref 2 achieve except to subsitute rule from London with rule from across the North Sea?

      In addition, it is worth asking why MPs were so concerned about proragation that they took six weeks off on holiday, and were planning not to sit during the conference season anyway. The effect of proragation is to take four sitting days away from Parliament.

      Apparently, this is a coup. Personally, I see no reason why anyone should accord any legitimacy to this parliament, who represent nobdoy but themselves.

  8. I’m afraid you’re far more party to this than you accept, David.

    We saw all this playing out in 2014. Refusal to accept a referendum result; using social media to overturn it; creation of ‘enemy blocks’; corruption of public institutions to the point where they are no longer impartial.

    We saw all this happening in Scotland in 2014 and still carries on to this day. Why did anyone think 2016 would be any different? It’s happening in exactly the same way.

    And now we have the SNP trying to turn Glasgow into Belfast of the 1970’s.

    The SNP voters made all this happen. I’ve no sympathy for them.

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