Douglas Carswell

06 SEP 2016

The idea of a Commons Brexit vote only damages Parliament

Yesterday several continuity Remain MPs claimed that denying Parliament a vote on triggering Article 50 would be undemocratic. The truth is precisely the opposite. The idea of MPs voting on – and voting down - Brexit can only damage Parliament.

Parliamentary sovereignty is shorthand for the sovereignty of the people. But, on Brexit, the people don't need a proxy. They made their will abundantly clear in the referendum. The government has its mandate directly from the voters.

The pretence that Parliament hasn't had a say is absurd. Who gave the choice to the people if not Parliament? A majority of MPs passed the Referendum Act.

Those insisting on a Parliamentary vote do so in the name of democracy. Yet their aim is, of course, fundamentally anti-democratic. They still think a majority of MPs could overturn the referendum result.

The Prime Minister has made clear that this naked attempt to block Brexit won't sway the government. The real danger it poses is to Parliament.

Many MPs have clearly forgotten where their mandate comes from. They don't seem to have asked themselves what the consequences of countermanding the people would be.

Do they really think voters would accept Parliament ignoring their mandate? Do they believe it would have no effect on popular confidence in politicians?

The danger with this proposal, as with so much else that MPs do, is that people will lose faith in Parliamentary democracy. What happens then?

Across the Western world, voters are in revolt against what they rightly see as a self-serving ruling class. They are sick of a crony cartel monopolising power in its own interests.

One continuity Remainer criticised the use of royal prerogative yesterday. It's worth remembering how that became constrained. Charles I found out the consequences of ruling without popular consent.

Ignore the people at your peril.

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