Headline: Boris Johnson vows to purge rebels who vote against no-deal Brexit
Sub-headline: Threat to withdraw Tory whip and deselect former ministers such as Philip Hammond
The Tory rebels are planning to work with Labour and other opposition parties to try to seize control of the House of Commons order paper and then pass a law to stop Mr Johnson from executing a no-deal departure from the EU on October 31.
The prime minister agreed the dramatic deselection threat after talks with party whips and advisers at Chequers, his country residence, on Sunday; Mr Johnson’s aides believe the threat of deselection will burn off some of the rebels ahead of the critical votes this week.
But a source from the Tory whips’ office said: “If they fail to vote with the government on Tuesday they will be destroying the government’s negotiating position and handing control of parliament to Jeremy Corbyn.”
But Rory Stewart, former international development secretary, said: “If we want to stop no-deal, we have to stop it this week. I’m proud to be a Conservative, I want to stand as a Conservative in my constituency, but I can’t stand on a no-deal platform.”
Mr Hammond said on Saturday Mr Johnson was showing “staggering hypocrisy” in threatening to throw out Tory MPs who oppose no-deal, since eight serving cabinet ministers have rebelled on Brexit this year.
Compare the above highly nuanced political melodrama, as deftly reported by George Parker, with Dominic Lawson’s essay in the good, grey Times of September 1, 2019
Headline: Johnson the proroguer is serving democracy
Sub-headline: In honouring the Brexit vote, the PM will save parliament from itself
The former chancellor Philip Hammond led the charge in describing the PM’s move as a denial of “democracy”. That might be true, if Westminster were the solitary repository of democratic legitimacy in the matter of Britain’s relationship with the EU. But it isn’t.
To understand why, read the words of the cabinet minister who introduced the second reading of the referendum bill in June 2015 — the then foreign secretary, one Philip Hammond. He began by declaring that the EU had “changed almost beyond recognition” from what the British had endorsed in the 1975 referendum, and that therefore another popular mandate was required.
He ended: “Whether you favour Britain being in or out, we surely should all be able to agree on the simple principle that the decision over our membership should be taken by the British people. Not by Whitehall bureaucrats; certainly not by Brussels Eurocrats; not even by government ministers or parliamentarians in this chamber. The decision must be for the common sense of the British people . . . For too long, powers have been handed to Brussels over their heads. For too long, their voice on Europe has not been heard. This bill puts that right. It delivers the simple in/out referendum that we promised and I commend it to the House.”
Is it possible to ignore that Johnson has by, his act of proroguing Parliament, rendered null, the fact that the ‘how’ of the Brexit will take place, without one of the vital political actors, in this decision, will be forcibly excluded from the negotiation of that ‘how’.
But the above quote by Philip Hammond : Not by Whitehall bureaucrats; certainly not by Brussels Eurocrats; not even by government ministers or parliamentarians in this chamber. The decision must be for the common sense of the British people . . .
The Brexit will simply take place via a vote? Call Mr. Lawson employment of Hammond’s reductionism awash in political fantasy.
It is true the prime minister is more concerned to honour the referendum result than the will of parliament (which has been to oppose everything and back nothing). In the battle between two forms of democratic legitimacy, he has taken sides. But if parliament declares itself more sovereign than the people, it will do itself more damage than any bombs dropped on it by the real Hitler.
The balance between all of the three branches of government is the imperative that must be recognized as just that!