The unending anti-democratic frenzy against Brexit
The ignorant identity politics of the Greens is symptomatic of a wider malaise that will not go away. Elite members of society, self-appointed or otherwise, are motivated by a strong neo-authoritarian impulse to overturn the Brexit referendum. They must not succeed
The Remainer backlash against Brexit, also known as the great anti-democratic frenzy, has been in full swing ever since the referendum result was announced in June 2016. We have just seen its most remarkable iteration yet, courtesy of Caroline Lucas.
The Green Party leader has written to ten female MPs, calling on them to form ‘an emergency cabinet’ following a proposed vote of no confidence in the government. Writing in the Guardian, she decries how ‘the Vote Leave team has been reassembled’ and ‘taken control of Downing Street.’ Their plans, she says in abject horror, are to implement the referendum result, sorry, ‘the most extreme no-deal version of Brexit.’
A ‘broken democracy’ requires a new group that can ‘work for reconciliation.’ And who should be in this emergency cabinet? Why women, each and every one of them. This is because only they can ‘bring a different perspective to crises, reach out to those they disagree with and cooperate to find solutions.’
This is identity politics at its most risible and ignorant. After all, male politicians from Churchill to Cameron and from Attlee to Blair made compromises, often difficult ones, to advance a party or national interest. Their masculinity did not stop them reaching out to their opponents at times of national crisis. At the same time, female leaders from Thatcher to Merkel have provided some of the toughest and most uncompromising voices in politics.
But if reaching out to your opponents really is a female quality, it is striking that Lucas seems to lack it herself. Every one of the recipients of her letter voted for Remain in 2016 with pro Brexit voices nowhere to be seen. How does this represent reaching across the political divide? Her letter is transparently divisive from the get-go.
In reality, Lucas has simply gathered together the most ardent champions of a second referendum. Among the ten MPs are Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, who has made it abundantly clear that she would oppose Brexit even if a second vote went for Leave. Her views make a mockery of the words ‘liberal’ and ‘democratic.’ Another of the chosen ten is Anna Soubry whose attacks on fellow Brexiteers have become increasingly febrile of late.
Then there is Emily Thornberry, whose recent attempts to explain her party’s view on Brexit left the BBC’s Robert Peston in fits of laughter. Indeed, Labour’s Brexit policy has become British politics’ version of the Bermuda Triangle - a strange, elusive, and utterly unknowable phenomenon.
Yet another of the MPs is Justine Greening who in the space of one week last year went from describing the Chequers plan as a ‘sensible proposal that should be taken seriously’ to ‘a fudge I can’t support.’
You have the SNPs Nicola Sturgeon who, like Lucas, demands a second referendum on Brexit while insisting that a vote for Scottish independence must be a one off vote. Presumably, if the Scots do reject independence again, Sturgeon can say that they did not know what they were voting against.
For good measure Lucas has reached out to Heidi Allen, an MP who in six months has joined as many political groupings as the number of votes for May’s withdrawal agreement.
All of this tells us what we already know: that the second referendum campaign, far from being about democratic legitimacy, is a device of Remain, by Remain and for Remain. Those who advocate a second vote see it as the best chance to halt the people’s choice in 2016. Lucas’s proposal simply dresses it up in what she has the temerity to characterise as female clothing.
To think that this assembly of ten could ever command a majority in the House of Commons is frankly laughable. After all, Parliament has rejected calls for a second referendum on more than one occasion.
Caroline Lucas’ call for an emergency female cabinet should be immediately consigned to the scrapheap.
Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton
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