Democracy is more than the whims of Theresa May
Its front page story begins:
“Peers were last night warned that their bid to wreck Theresa May’s Brexit plans is destined for failure.”
Notice the elision between ‘Brexit’ and ‘Theresa May’s Brexit plans’, as if the two were synonomous, and you get a sense of how the Express volunteers to be an attack dog for the government.
The paper’s editorial today goes further, associating May’s Brexit plans with democracy itself. While the paper calls ‘dissapointing’ the passage of last night’s Lords amendment, which guarantees the rights of EU nationals in Britain, it notes:
“This is likely to delay Brexit only by a very short time and the amendment they voted for will probably be discarded by the House of Commons.
Nevertheless the democratic mandate for leaving the EU ought to have been respected.”
Where on the ballot paper did it say ‘kick out EU nationals’? The referendum produced a mandate for leaving the EU, without futher detail. Hence the debate before and since.
As it happens, the Supreme Court has ruled only parliament can trigger Article 50, so the Lords very much can ‘stop Brexit’, as can the Commons. But they aren’t trying to.
All the Lords have done is guarantee the rights of the three million EU nationals living in Britain. Not doing so is certainly part of the Prime Minister’s ‘Brexit plans’ – she hopes to use their fate as leverage in negotiations, though says she wants to let them stay.
Today’s Express editorial backs this position, calling a possible ‘deporting’ of EU nationals ‘appalling’, but argues a unilatieral committment ‘would drastically weaken her [May’s] hand’.
If that phrase sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the excuse the government used for not telling parliament or ‘the people’ what her Brexit plans were, and for fighting in the courts to stop parliament debating and voting on Article 50.
Democracy is more than the whims of our Prime Minister. Perhaps the Express is shaky on the concept after 16 years of Richard Desmond.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.