Today was meant to be Brexit Day. At 11 p.m., when this post is published, the UK was meant to leave the European Union – postponed for a third time. However, I hope that the end is in sight, now that a General Election has been called for 12 December 2019.
Brexit 1 was 29 Mar 2019, which former Prime Minister Theresa May insisted 108 times was the day that Britain would leave the European Union (EU). Instead, during the last week, she asked the EU for a fortnight’s extension after British Parliamentarians tied her arm up her back and voted that we could not leave without a deal.
At that time President Macron of France had demanded a six-month extension rather than a year to “sound tough” to a domestic audience six weeks before the European elections.
Brexit 2 was 12 Apr 2019, which came and went with hardly a whimper of parliamentary protest, so I made my personal protest. Theresa May set this date to try to avoid the UK fighting the European elections on 23 May 2019, but as time ran out she again wrote to the European Commission for a second extension to 30 June 2019, which the EU considered pointless.
Brexit 3 was 31 Oct 2019, appointed by the European Union, so that the UK spent about £100 million campaigning for European elections three years after voting to leave the EU. Theresa May had said on 20 Mar 2019: “As Prime Minister, I could not consider a delay further beyond the 30th June.” Presumably she meant 2019.
So the term ‘flextension’ was invented to show the variability of the date of Brexit. This created the impression and confirmed the suspicion of Brexiteers that the can was being kicked further down a road to nowhere or at least to an unknown destination.
Rather, ‘flextension’ – the continuous extension of the Brexit date – illustrates the elastic conscience of those who can stretch their conscience, their promises and the patience of their hearers to meet the circumstances.
Political correspondents ran out of words to describe each Crunch and D-day. BBC Laura Kuensberg wrote of “Decision day – sort of”, but even the EU got weary of the delays and of flextension.
After the UK Government was forced by this ‘Remain Parliament’ to send a letter requesting an extension to Brexit day, with three days to spare, the EU agreed to extend Brexit till 31 Jan 2020 with the proviso that if the House of Commons could get its act together, an earlier date may be possible. These flextensions were 30/11/2019, 31/12/2019 and 31/1/2020. This opened the way for a General Election with Brexit as the main issue.
Boris Johnson wanted a General Election on 12/12/2019 under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 but the Lib Dems and the SNP wanted it on 9/12/2019 under a one-line Bill which needs only a simple majority, but which could be amended to allow EU citizens and 16-year-olds to vote, on the principle that this election will be about Brexit and affects their future for longer than a generation. So when the Government submitted its own one-line Bill the Remainers submitted such amendments. However, the deputy Speaker rejected this attempt to change our constitutional voting procedures in one day. The Government secured a large majority by 438 to 20 for a General Election on 12/12/2019.
Where does this leave us?
Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement is better than Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, but it is not the clean break that Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party wants. The General Election should resolve the impasse in Parliament; thereafter Boris has promised to pass his Withdrawal Agreement Brexit in the first possible month if he secures a parliamentary majority. There would be no further negotiation with the EU, which would only happen if there was another parliamentary impasse.
Parliamentary democracy failed because it would not implement the will of the people. Only a General Election can restore democracy, which is more important than another referendum. We have parliamentarians who think that they know better than the public whom they consulted. It is the arrogance of authority. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow bent convention to begin the process of opposition MPs taking over the business of the House of Commons to tie the hands of the executive.
Those who are interested in local government will recognise the process – the public are consulted and then ignored. It is now proverbial to describe this as ‘a tick box exercise’, going through the motion of consulting the public but in truth going ahead with their own ideas.
Ignoring the public was played out before our eyes at the parliamentary level, although this is not the first example of this behaviour.
Parliamentary stalling tactics
The delaying tactics of parliament are not new. Not only do individual parliamentarians ‘talk out’ unwelcome Bills, but a notable example was Enoch Powell’s Embryo Experimentation Bill, which was supported by parliamentarians at the time but the ‘establishment’ managed to frustrate and delay it to the extent that parliamentary opinion was swung behind a new and different consensus.
There is nothing wrong with working towards a new consensus, but the public needs to recognise what is happening. The sad fact is that they do not realise that untrustworthiness is one of the baneful effects of secularism.
The Bible teaches principles of discernment and historical lessons to those who study it. It shows that a whole society can be given over to foolish leadership Isa 9:17 by the spiritually blind Isa 56:10 and everyone will suffer as a result.
The shotgun marriage pushed through in the Maastricht Treaty could never last. There was no meeting of minds far less of hearts. John Major’s Government was ruthless in driving Maastricht through the House of Commons. The same ruthless determination is seen in the Remainer parliamentarians and ex-parliamentarians like John Major frustrating the current parliament like back-seat drivers. Like constructive dismissal procedures, parliament frustrated progress with Brexit so that only a dismissal of parliament and a General Election can press the reset button for a clearer run at Brexit.
The role of borders
The reason why the Northern Ireland backstop has been so critical to the Withdrawal Agreement is because the land border between the UK and the EU drew attention to the border of any country being the very essence of a country. Nothing else defines the essence of a country than its border.
Thus the European Union’s “four freedoms”, including the free movement of people, is in fact a simple extension of the EU border. This is why the EU is plotting this course for its European superstate dream. The EU continually over-reached its borders, trying to give jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over EU citizens within the UK borders, in essence extending the EU border to include the UK.
Nationalism and patriotism
Nations and nationalism is ultimately about borders, while patriotism is about the people inside these borders.
Brexit is about restoring the doctrine of the nation state, against the globalisation agenda of international business. Running nations is more than facilitating business.
First and last
Today is the last day of John Bercow as Speaker of the House of Commons, which Brexiteers will think has come not a moment too soon. Today is also, however, the first day of campaigning for the General Election that will break the impasse in the House of Commons and will hopefully deliver the clean Brexit that Remainer parliamentarians would not allow.
Michel Barnier has been credited as a better negotiator than the UK negotiators. There are three points to note:
1. the British negotiations have been done in public, with fifth columnists in our midst and insiders advising the EU how to proceed. Donald Tusk discussed issues with the heads of EU states in private, but the House of Commons discusses in public, because it is a democracy.
2. EU negotiators have had decades of experience because member states were not allowed to negotiate for themselves. This only demonstrates that the sooner the UK recovers the skills and personnel to negotiate trade deals the better, and this is one of the main aims of Brexit – to recover the ability to make our own free trade deals with the nations of the world.
3. the hierarchial structure of the EU has favoured its unity of negotiations and the secretary of its planning. It has allowed Barnier to negotiate on behalf of all 27 EU member-states. However, it demonstrates the hierarchial procedures of the EU, so that the sooner the UK exits it the better. It is the difference between episcopacy and presbyterianism and it is Scottish presbyterianism under John Knox and Samuel Rutherford followed by English independency under Oliver Cromwell which gave Britain and the world democratic parliamentary government.
In the new global setting, the primary lesson for the UK is not to go into any union which may resemble “Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly. We ‘crashed into’ the EEC with Edward Heath selling out British fishing with hardly a debate, and with John Major’s thumbscrews to pass the Mastricht Treaty the UK ended up in the EU.
The way forward for the global situation is to sort out the border issues of nations under contention, not to create new conglomerations on the false doctrine that ‘big is beautiful’. Rather, not only has ‘too big to fail’ been demonstrated by the credit crisis in 2008, but ‘too big to manage’ has been proven by the many corporate failures since then.
Meanwhile, we watch for flextension Brexit 4.
Where it all began.
23 June 2016: “Brexit” won the Referendum and the UK voted to leave the European Union in order to recover its sovereignty and independence from a domineering international co-operative – billed at the time to become Britain’s ‘Independence Day’.
Dec 2018: Theresa May delays the House of Commons vote on her negotiated deal in the face of a majority against it.
22 Dec 2018: Jeremy Corbyn intimates that he will not delay Brexit.
15 Jan 2019: Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement deal with the EU is defeated by 202-432 votes as the largest Government loss in Parliamentary history.
29 Jan 2019: the House of Commons voted to promote a consensus giving the UK Prime Minister a mandate to attempt to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement that the EU had refused to do.
29 Mar 2019: Brexit 1 came and went. The Brexit timeline, which was meant to stop today, continues.
12 Apr 2019: Brexit 2 came and went, but not without my protest.
31 Oct 2019: Brexit 3 came and went. Unlike 12 Apr 2019, when BBC Newsnight ignored the breach of the 11 p.m. Brexit 2, this time Newsnight had a countdown clock, which noted the moment of ‘non-Brexit’ and then moved on to the new countdown clock at 91 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds.
12 Dec 2019: Boris Johnson’s landslide victory in the General Election today has made 31 Jan 2020 the Red-letter Brexit date.