The latest attempt by would-be Brexit wreckers was defeated in Parliament in June. But the job is not yet done. They will try again. We have to keep the pressure on untrustworthy Westminster politicians of whatever party.
On 12 June the Labour Party led an attempt to tie the next prime minister’s hands by ruling out no deal on leaving the EU. It was defeated by 11 votes, 309 to 298, after eight Labour MPs voted with the government and 13 abstained, cancelling out 10 Conservative rebels who voted with Labour.
The pro-EU conservative MP Oliver Letwin told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he thought the latest defeat meant Parliament had exhausted the options for preventing a no-deal exit. Perhaps. But the only certainty is that the ruling class and pro-EU forces inside and outside Parliament will not rest. They will do whatever they can to reverse the historic Leave decision.
Listen to Keir Starmer, Labour shadow for Exiting the EU: “…this House will take every step necessary to prevent a no deal.” Or Philip Hammond, currently Chancellor of the Exchequer: “Parliament will not allow a no-deal exit from the EU.” Both speak for MPs, but not for the British people.
We’ve seen lies and delay – many times. We’ve been told parliament is sovereign over the people, like the kings of old with their divine right to rule. We’ve seen the government’s negotiating position undermined by MPs openly promoting a second vote, even calling for Article 50 to be revoked, and by Corbyn and others trotting off to cosy up to EU leaders.
Nearly all Labour’s MPs have played a shameful role in this saga. Elected on a manifesto that promised to honour the referendum vote and act in the national interest, they have done neither.
The eight Labour MPs who voted to support the government and defeat the wreckers on 12 June should be saluted. What are the others playing at by putting the interests of the EU before those of their country?
On the positive side there has been a resolute response from British people. Whenever people have been given a chance to express their views it’s clear that parliamentary niceties cut no ice. We want out, and cleanly. As a result of that clarity, May’s would-be successors seem for the most part to understand that willingness to face up to the EU is a prerequisite for the job.
The establishment fears that whoever wins the Conservative leadership will do what most of his party members and the country want – leave the EU.
We’ll see further dirty tricks, whoever becomes Prime Minister. And more of the vicious attacks on those in the labour movement who dare to speak out for Brexit and against the EU.
The pro-EU forces will not let this rest; nor should the forces for Brexit. Finish the job and get on with working on a future for Britain, so far put to one side as we struggle to get what we voted for.
• A different version of this article is on the web at Now finish the job