The pro-Remain establishment’s efforts to block Brexit have reached new heights this month

The pro-Remain establishment’s efforts to block Brexit have reached new heights this month

The last time I was invited on the TV to discuss Brexit matters was on the day Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. It was one of those itchy-chin discussion panels evenly balanced between pro- and anti-EU pundits. One of the other guests opined that the installation of Boris in Downing Street probably marked the “death of Remain” as a viable cause.

I didn’t go that far, but did note that having the leader of Vote Leave as PM – while the leader of the unofficial Leave campaign had recently won those European elections that should never have occurred – marked a notable upturn in Leaver fortunes.

By any logical standpoint the election of Mr Johnson as Tory leader on an explicit “October 31st, do or die” Brexit policy should have finally led to the political system doing what the British people told them to on June 23rd 2016 – taking Remain off the table.

The course that I presumed would be set involved Johnson going back to Brussels with some proper leverage in search of a better deal, without that backstop and with other horrors stripped out of May’s deal too. Brussels’ comfort blanket of knowing it faced a PM who was not serious about No Deal would no longer exist.

But the month of September has proved that, although it lacks any democratic legitimacy whatever, Remain is not dead. Far from it. The lengths the political establishment have been prepared to go to in order to block Brexit again have been eyebrow-raising, to put it very mildly indeed.

Commons Speaker John Bercow allowed the Order Paper to be commandeered from the Government again in order for MPs to pass a law banning a no-deal Brexit and instructing the Prime Minister to ask for a further extension to our EU membership, in defiance of a PM’s traditional prerogative power over matters of foreign policy. More than 20 MPs elected on the Conservative election manifesto to deliver Brexit, keeping in mind that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, connived with Bercow and opposition parties in this regard and lost the Tory whip for their pains.

Now an activist judiciary has decided another prerogative power – to determine when to prorogue Parliament – can be stripped from the office of Prime Minister and brought within their own purview. Surprise, surprise, they have ruled totally against the PM in regard to the current instance.

And remember that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have already bequeathed him the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, which strips him of yet another prime ministerial prerogative power – the power to call a general election. If ever a piece of legislation should have come with a sunset clause attached, it is this one.

The combined effect of these measures comes fairly close to abolishing the traditional role of Prime Minister – a typical ultra-Remain response to defeats at the ballot box.

Meanwhile the opposition parties have moved their anti-democratic ratchet across a few more notches at their party conferences. Remarkably, the Liberal Democrats now openly commit to killing Brexit without even the fig leaf of a second referendum to cover their embarrassment. In fact they are not embarrassed at all, just shameless.

And things have shifted so far that when Labour now commits to a second referendum next year with Remain on the ballot paper, it now gets written up as a disappointment for Remainers rather than the betrayal of Leavers and of democracy that it amounts to.

In fact every party with MPs elected to the Commons that is regarded by pundits as either centrist or left-of-centre has now abandoned promises to implement the referendum verdict. It is worth listing them all: Labour, the Lib Dems, the Green Party, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, The Independent Group for Change and Sinn Fein.

The Social Democratic Party, which I joined almost a year ago, has no MPs and not much yet in the way of media coverage – though membership is growing fast. But it can proudly say it is the one party with an agenda that is centre-left on many issues and yet is fully committed to the delivery of Brexit both on grounds that self-governing nation states are the best convenors of social solidarity and on grounds of basic democratic decency.

Some Brexiteers are tempted to blame Boris Johnson for, to put it bluntly, cocking things up. But what we have really learned is simply that this House of Commons is stuffed full of MPs who adopted a pro-Brexit posture in the wake of the referendum but are in fact so ideologically opposed to Brexit that they will do almost anything to stop it. And Bercow, the Commons “referee”, is on their side. And the judicial linesmen do not appear to notice when Remain strikers stray offside but shoot their flags up, even when Johnson is level with the last defender.

Who can now doubt that all the centre and left parties in the Commons are now actually completely blasé about crushing a referendum verdict that they promised to honour? The broadcast media – with a few honourable exceptions such as Piers Morgan and Julia Hartley-Brewer – seldom berates them for this duplicity, choosing instead to treat Leave and Remain as competing options with no distinction of legitimacy.

The only dog that has not barked in our story lately is the great British public – denied an election by Remainer MPs who nonetheless keep telling them that the occupant of Downing Street is not a fit and proper person to be in that role. Yet only the British public can now kill the Remain conspiracy – by delivering a pro-Brexit Commons majority in a general election soon.

I make only this prediction: the one outcome which will prove worse for pro-Remain establishment politicians than their plot to kill Brexit failing is for it to succeed. Because then they will be accountable for the slow-motion torture of the UK still being in the EU against its will as Brussels continues to aggregate power and sovereignty at the centre. And the wrath they will face for that will make even the hardest-hearted Brexiteer grimace.

The political establishment seems determined to play double or quits with the British people rather than handing them their promised prize of restored sovereignty. It is a game which can have no good outcome for establishment politicians and parties. Brexit is not even the half of it anymore.