The only thing keeping the prime minister on her increasingly precarious perch are behind-doors conflicting promises that must be kept secret because if they leaked Mrs May, the government, the conservative party and Brexit negotiations would tumble.
The Labour opposition, meanwhile can’t decide whether to oppose or join the government and is, if anything, more divided than the Conservatives. Anti-European Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn instructed his MPs to abstain in key amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill—the essential piece of legislation needed to take Britain out of the EU.
In an unprecedented party revolt, six members of Corbyn’s front bench resigned to vote their conscience and a total of 90 Labour MPs ignored their leader’s instructions. Rebel Hilary Benn said: “There comes a point when we have to stand up and be counted.”
Then there is the Scottish National Party. Parliament allowed only 15 minutes to debate the government’s plans to take control from Brussels of legislation related to Scottish fisheries and environment instead of devolving them back to the Scottish Parliament. The SNP leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, was expelled for refusing to sit down and shut up. The other 55 SNP members of parliament walked out with him and a ton of grist was poured into the Scottish independence mill.
Why is there such a chaos in the Mother of Parliaments? Is it because of Mrs. May’s paper-thin majority? Is it because of Corbyn’s spinelessness on the overarching issue of Brexit?
No. It is because the Brexit policy is built on a false premise. It is a sandcastle built in a thunderstorm by political figures wearing nostalgia-tinted spectacles.
The British parliament is the scene of unprecedented chaos because the British government has yet to reach the foothills of Brexit negotiations and it cannot agree on directions. It is divided because the sky is turning black from the wings of chickens coming home to roost after a Brexit campaign and post-campaign of misinformation, half-truths, and downright lies.
Brexiteers said don’t worry about the border between the two Irelands. Wrong.
Brexiteers said don’t worry about the threat of Scottish independence. Wrong.
Brexiteers said don’t worry about the fate of EU nationals. Wrong.
Brexiteers said don’t worry about political disintegration on the continent. Wrong.
Brexiteers promised a “great” free trade deal with America. Wrong.
Brexiteers said don’t worry about Galileo, Euratom, and a host of other technological, scientific partnerships, jobs, the fruit industry, financial services or NHS job shortages. Wrong.
Brexiteers said don’t worry about trade with the EU. They need us more than we need them. Wrong.
British voters were told every time they voiced concerns about the dangers of leaving the European Union that they were falling victim to “Project Fear.” Well, now the voters are afraid—very afraid.
Largely lost in the parliamentary mire last week was the testimony of Arron Banks, banker to UKIP and the Leave Campaign. He and his PR sidekick Andy Wigmore were giving evidence to the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. The committee is investigating claims of Russian interference in the Brexit campaign and allegations of illegal overspending by the Brexiteers.
Much of the reporting focus was on Banks’ and Wigmore’s contempt of the parliamentary hearing. They initially refused to appear before the committee and then they walked out of the committee hearing because of a luncheon appointment. They dismissed as a “witch hunt” reports of repeated meetings with Russian diplomats and belittled Cambridge Analytica.
But just as telling was the campaign banker’s description of their campaign. He said:”We were not above using alternative methods to punch home our message or lead people up the garden path if we had to.”
Wigmore added: “The piece of advice that we got, right from the beginning, was remember referendums are not about facts, it’s about emotion and you have got to tap into that emotion”.
Facts, not emotion—are the foundation stones of good government.
Tom Arms is editor of Lookaheadnews.com