Brexit’s Ninth Circle of Treachery

Brexit’s Ninth Circle of Treachery, by Antony Carr.

In a democracy, sovereignty is lost if it is transferred to someone who is not elected. The sovereignty of parliament amounts to nothing if the United Kingdom is itself not sovereign. Should the efforts of Remainers succeed, this will ensure the permanent transfer of sovereignty to Brussels, with parliament being reduced to a mere regional assembly. A nation that once ruled a quarter of the globe would no longer be able to rule itself.

Parliament is the body which normally exercises sovereignty on behalf of the people. However, by calling a referendum on continuing membership of the European Union, parliament gave this particular decision directly to the people and promised to implement whatever they decided.

A majority of MPs has now reneged on this promise and, by refusing an election, revoked their own legitimacy as representatives of the people. They clearly no longer believe the people are worthy of their loyalty. The golden thread of British democracy has been broken.

In a democratic nation, it is loyalty to the system that leads people to accept a government even though they may profoundly disagree with it. The concepts of ‘loyal opposition’ and ‘losers’ consent’ depend on patriotism and a belief that everybody’s point of view is entitled to be heard and allowed to gain majority support.

Loyalty requires reciprocity. It is unfortunately clear that, like their political brethren, many members of the British establishment feel no sympathy with or loyalty towards many if not most of their fellow countrymen.

This lack of feeling was noted by David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. At a dinner some years ago at Nuffield College, Oxford, he found himself sitting between Lord O’Donnell, then head of the civil service and Mark Thompson, then director-general of the BBC. He was surprised when both agreed with the proposition that migration to Britain should be maximised and that global welfare took precedence over national welfare. It is little wonder that despite community concerns, immigration has continued unabated, notwithstanding numerous promises by politicians to slow it down.