Douglas Carswell

20 OCT 2016

Tony - not Hilary - Benn should be MPs' guide to Brexit

MPs have voted for Remainer Hilary Benn to chair the Brexit select committee, rather than Leaver Kate Hoey. The rest of the committee has been agreed behind closed doors by the big parties – so no space for me as UKIP's only MP. Do Parliamentarians really think this is how representative democracy is supposed to work?

Three months since the referendum, many MPs still haven't come to terms with the outcome. In fact, they're still trying to undermine it.

Despite 17.4 million people voting to take back control of our laws, our borders, and our trade policy, some MPs disingenuously claim that Brexit can mean staying inside the European single market and customs union. They think Parliament has the right to block Article 50.

Choosing Hilary Benn – by a margin of 330 votes to 209 – to chair the committee that will scrutinise the work of David Davis and his department is merely Parliament's latest attempt by to block Brexit.

For a brief period, it looked like the referendum might be a wake-up call to the self-serving cartel that dominates Westminster. Apparently not. MPs still seem to think they can get away with ignoring the people they are elected to represent.

This is a dangerous route to go down. The most cocooned of Westminster insiders may not have noticed, but respect for politicians is already at rock-bottom – with good reason. By setting themselves up in opposition to the Brexit majority, MPs risk doing serious damage to public faith in representative democracy. If that happens, what then?

Fans of Hilary Benn might be better advised to heed the words of his late father: "The Parliamentary democracy we have developed and established in Britain is based, not upon the sovereignty of Parliament, but upon the sovereignty of the People".

Tony Benn wrote those words in a letter to constituents forty years ago. They were part of his case against staying in the European common market.

Maybe forty years of common-market membership have made Parliament forget what it's for. Now that we're leaving, it's about time MPs remembered.

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