January 1, 2017

On Theresa May’s Call for Unity

You can watch Theresa May’s New Year’s message here. And what she says is:

“We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today.

“We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed. We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. These ambitions unite us, so that we are no longer the 52% who voted leave and the 48% who voted remain, but one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future. So when I sit around the negotiating table in Europe this year, it will be with that in mind – the knowledge that I am there to get the right deal not just for those who voted to leave, but for every single person in this country.”

Those who love our country will join her in wanting unity. And, back in November, I tweeted how this might be achieved (see the tweet-storm that begins here).

But trust and respect are no-one’s to command. They must be earned – and by actions. And Theresa May’s give no comfort to those who voted for, or now believe the country’s interests are better served by, our continuing membership of the EU.

Where, as here, a process is divisive it can only be healed with a better one. And that process must look like allowing our sovereign Parliament – for which we took back control – a meaningful role in negotiations. Yet Theresa May has fought tooth and nail to deny Parliament any say.

Her opposition to Gina Miller’s case is because she wishes to deny Parliament the ability to set negotiating priorities for the Government.

And if she loses she will have no option but to ask Parliament to enact legislation to authorise the triggering of Article 50. The Supreme Court will have said there is a constitutional role for Parliament to play. But she has already indicated that she will put a “bombproof” three line Bill before Parliament. She will be compelled to respect the form of the Supreme Court’s ruling but – even before it rules – she has said that she will ignore the substance of that constitutional role.

So, nothing but a formal role for Parliament when Article 50 is triggered. And what about when her negotiating team returns with the deal they strike with the r27? Surely Parliament will then have a say?

Here is what her spokesman said in October:

Downing Street has said it is “very likely” MPs will be able to vote on the final Brexit agreement reached between the UK and the European Union.

Number 10 confirmed the comment by a government lawyer in the High Court represented the “government’s view”.

But, when the Supreme Court hearing was over, she played a different tune.

So, no voice for Parliament before we trigger Article 50. And no voice for Parliament when we return. And misleading the Courts along the way.

This attempt to reserve to herself – and deny to our democratically elected Parliament – its proper role is difficult to swallow given that she has never been offered to the country as Prime Minister.

It is bizarre given that Parliament chose to enact an advisory rather than a binding referendum

And it is staggering in circumstances where the decision she seeks to reserve to herself – the shape of the deal – is a momentous one for which she has no mandate at all: not in the referendum result or in her Party’s Manifesto or in anything else.

And she has taken many other steps that appear almost calculated to drive the country apart rather than bring it together. Let me mention just two.

Why has she appointed three enthusiastic Brexiters to negotiate the shape of our deal with the EU?

Why will she not attempt to negotiate bespoke deals for Scotland and Ireland – respecting the wishes of their electorates?

For many of the 48%, the Referendum result is hard to take. For all who care about our country the divisions that it generated are a tragedy. But the ongoing actions of Theresa May’s Government, which drive the country apart rather than bringing it together, are simply inexplicable.

You can hear me discuss some of the issues I addressed in this post here.


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