Another day, another dying of democracy in the House of Commons. What’s the point of parliamentary votes when the government, a minority government at that, feels free to ignore them? But that’s where we are now. Remember, all this mess was created by people who claimed that they wanted to restore the sovereignty of the British Parliament, yet we have a government and Prime Minister which ignore parliament and press on with what passes for their plan. That would be a plan to make us all poorer, a plan to restrict our civil rights, a plan to strip us of our European citizenship. There’s no agreement on anything in the House of Commons, except that this is absolute chaos, that what remains of the UK’s international reputation as a stable democracy has been resoundingly trashed by the UK itself, and that David Mundell has not resigned.
The first amendment to be voted on today instructed the government to ask for an extension to Article 50 in order for there to be another referendum on the EU. Labour decided that it was not going to support this amendment, following on from Corbyn forgetting to mention his party’s support for another referendum after the government was defeated the other day. So if you were looking to the Labour party to rescue us all from this Brexit mess, think again. All Labour is fit for is abstention. As the amendment was voted upon in the Commons, the vast majority of Labour’s MPs sat firmly on their benches – because that’s the only way that they can cover their arses.
As expected due to the failure of Labour to back it, the amendment was defeated. This doesn’t mean that there can’t be another EU referendum, but the magnitude of the defeat gives a boost to the Brexists. Jacob Rees Mogg took to social media to self-congratulate himself on the death of a second referendum, but Jacob’s gloating is premature. You’d think he would recognise when something is undead, but apparently not. The chances of another EU referendum are less than they were, but they’re not entirely gone yet.
Then the House voted on whether to take over control of business from the government. That amendment was defeated by the narrowest of margins, allowing Theresa May the slimmest of lifelines. That just left Labour’s amendment, and the government’s own amendment. Labour wanted the House to agree to ask for an extension of Article 50 beyond the 29th of March in order for Parliament to try and find something it could agree on. Labour’s amendment didn’t specify a time limit. It was defeated by 16 votes.
That only left the government’s own amendment, which sought to ask the EU for an extension of Article 50 until 30 June for the purposes of passing the necessary legislation – assuming that Theresa May’s deal has passed. This amendment passed by a large majority.
So that’s where we are now. The government has pledged to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50 even though it’s been swearing blind for the past two years that it wasn’t going to do so. It’s entirely within the gift of the EU to decide whether to grant an extension, and they may very well decide that there’s no point in extending the Article 50 process until 30 June when it’s obvious that there is more squabbling within the UK than there is at a serial adulterer’s will reading. Some figures within the EU have noted that it’s pointless to grant another extension unless there is some credible justification from the UK for what the extension can achieve. The EU doesn’t see much point in granting extra time to the UK just so that the UK can continue to disgree with itself. On the other hand there is talk in some EU circles of granting an extension, but only a much longer one. Despite the text of the government’s amendment that a longer extension would require the UK to participate in May’s EU elections, this is not necessarily the case.
Thank god we’ve got a strong and stable British government eh. Just imagine the chaos and confusion if we didn’t.
We’re now just two weeks away from Brexit day, and the UK has been reduced to begging the EU for extra time so that it can try to sort itself out, but still without any clear idea of how it’s going to achieve that. All we hear is the “will of the people” from politicians who are determined to ensure that the people never get to express what their will is, because apparently the referendum of June 2016 was the final word in democratic expression which trumps everything else for all time. It’s a democratic expression from voters in the rest of the UK which grants the British government carte blanche to overrule the will of the Scottish people, because it seems that only some voices count in this Mother of a Parliament.
At every turn, we have seen the will of the people of Scotland marginalised, sidelined, and ignored by a British government which eagerly leapt upon the Brexit vote of June 2016 as a mandate to destroy our employment and civil rights, and to undermine and hollow out the devolution settlement. Even if by some miracle Brexit can be avoided, this sorry episode has only illustrated the utter contempt in which Westminster holds the people of Scotland and their elected representatives. This is not the UK that we were promised in 2014, and that all by itself counts as a material change in circumstances which justifies another Scottish independence referendum. It is fundamental to democracy itself that a people have a government which treats the people with respect. Scotland doesn’t have that as a part of the UK.
All we have are sneers, the snide insults of Michael Gove, a spineless Scotland Secretary who puts his own career first, and a Prime Minister who speaks about a precious union without having the slightest concept of what a union actually entails. The UK and its institutions are unfit for purpose. Democracy is based on respect, and there is none for Scotland within the UK. That means that independence is a matter of self-respect.
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