Brexiteers to Parliament: Drop Dead

Even parliamentary democracy is now expendable in the pursuit of Brexit.

View of the Houses of Parliament in London, England, April 9, 2010
View of the Houses of Parliament in London, England, April 9, 2010 (Geir Halvorsen)

So much for the claim that Brexit was about restoring the sovereignty of British institutions.

According to a ComRes poll published in The Telegraph on Monday, more Britons would support Prime Minister Boris Johnson using any means necessary to take Britain out of the European Union than would oppose him — even if it meant suspending Parliament.

Of those with an opinion on the question, 54 percent of respondents said they agreed Johnson should do whatever it takes and prevent lawmakers from blocking Brexit. 46 percent disagreed.

If undecideds are included, the figures are 44 percent “agree” and 37 percent “disagree”.

Words have consequences

The means have become the end, and it is the entirely predictable consequence of Brexiteers disparaging anyone and anything that threatened to stand in their way, whether it was the Treasury (“the worst thing we have in Britain,” according Iain Duncan Smith), central bank governor Mark Carney (“beneath the dignity of the Bank of England,” said Jacob Rees-Mogg) or the head of the National Health Service (who was told by David Owen to focus on managing the health service “a great deal more successfully”) warning that leaving the EU could be damaging.

When judges ruled — in what should have been an uncontroversial decision — that Brexit cannot happen without the approval of Parliament, the Daily Mail branded them “enemies of the people”.

Michael Gove, the former education secretary, waved away all concerns from experts, declaring simply that Britons had had “enough of experts”.

Trump

I warned that such recriminations would not be without consequence. When you attack the neutrality and professionalism of your public institutions long enough, people will eventually start to believe what you’re saying.

Look at the United States. The Republican Party signaled to voters for years that institutions and traditions were expendable in the pursuit of power. The result was Donald Trump.