Those protesting against the prorogation are the ones really seeking to obstruct democracy

Those protesting against the prorogation are the ones really seeking to obstruct democracy

The orchestrated attack against the Prime Minister’s decision to move on ahead with the Government’s programme and a Queen’s speech after the annual conference recess reveals, once again, the lengths to which those who lost the 2016 referendum will go to stop the democratic decision of voters in 2016 and again in 2017 from being put into effect.

The real outrage is not that Boris Johnson is moving decisively to honour his predecessor’s pledge to voters to leave the EU, deal or no deal, repeated in the Conservative manifesto and endorsed by an Act of Parliament; nor that he intends to tackle the ambitious programme for economic and social regeneration for which the country cries out. Rather, there is cause for genuine outrage that the last government ducked and weaved on its duty to do these things, and that Remain-backing MPs ganged up in a parliamentary dictatorship under the Speaker to defy the electorate and call the shots.

Those now protesting against the limited extension to Parliament’s normal three-week conference recess for the prorogation before the Queen’s Speech have from the outset sought to obstruct or reverse the people’s decision to leave the EU. It need hardly be added that they are mostly Opposition MPs, a handful of Tory rebels, and the usual contingent of fringe opposition parties, with plenty of noise on the streets from the anti-democratic militants on whom such parties can call to threaten the fabric of democracy. Despite the fact that the authority of these MPs comes from the people, they have used their office to frustrate the legitimate workings of democracy, and to violate the very constitution, under which they were elected.

We have to look back more than a century to find a similar parliamentary attempt to prevent the express wish of the people from being executed. In 1909-1910 the House of Lords tried to veto the then Liberal Government’s Budget, the heart of its radical reforms providing for new social security and pension schemes. Herbert Asquith, the Prime Minister of the day, defeated the move by threatening to flood the Lords with his own nominees.

By contrast today’s anti-democratic MPs have, until now, been been allowed to get away with their unconstitutional obstruction of voters’ authority. Theresa May, many believed, started out with the best of intentions to see Britain’s interests through, deal or no deal. But good intentions were no substitute for ruthless determination to use the toolkit of government to do her duty and take Britain out of the EU, if necessary facing down the enemies of democracy, whether in the EU or in Parliament. Instead, having gone along with EU agenda and approach in negotiations with Brussels, she then tried to appease Brexit’s opponents in the Commons and finally colluded with them against Brexit, in favour of a deal that compromised the UK’s sovereignty, kept the county in an EU customs union, subject to its laws and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Boris Johnson, by contrast, has understood the fundamental truth of Britain’s unwritten constitution. The authority to exercise political power comes from the people. So it has been for as long as history records, as long as people recorded the struggles in parish and country, in Parliament and in law; and to maintain that freedom, Parliaments and MPs, monarchs and governments have ultimately had to bow to the people’s will. The most dramatic example of this in recent centuries was the repeal of the Corn Laws – in the early decades of the 19th century, people formed leagues and societies and campaigned for the repeal of the duties, really a tax on imported corn, that kept up the price of bread, then a staple food on which the working men and women of Britain fed their families and themselves. Ultimately, a Tory Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, gave way to that demand, and did so against the vested interests of landowners and the protests by MPs in his own party.

Though he heads a Conservative government, Boris Johnson is no more a partisan Prime Minister than Peel, who repealed the Corn Laws to execute the people’s will.

He knows now is no time to appease the treachery of MPs and Brexit’s opponents. Institutional order has always mattered. Even at the height of World War Two, the King’s Speech took place each year, to announce the programme for the current year: not just that armed struggle would continue to preserve freedom at home and restore it abroad, but also other measures that victory would make possible – an education system for all, universal social insurance and land reform. The King’s Speech was a symbol of his people’s determination to see the war through, as the means to a better end.

Johnson must therefore persist. Until he gets Brexit done, the people of this country will remain deprived of their constitutional right to determine how they are governed and by whom. Instead MPs will have usurped that power to undermine people’s right. And the EU’s leaders, rubbing their hands on the sidelines in Brussels, will crack on with their plans to chain the UK economy to its customs union, its laws, and to the European Court of Justice for which politics comes before freedom.