Don't despair - here's how you can take action.
I doubt any of us could have predicted that we would end up here. To the ongoing disaster of Brexit, we now add into that what can only be described as an attempted coup at the very heart of our democracy.
Boris Johnson has the title of Prime Minister, Dominic Raab the title of Foreign Secretary, and Dominic Cummings the title of the PM’s chief adviser. In times past these figures – and the Home Secretary, Chancellor and others – would have operated within accepted parliamentary norms. They would have recognised the need to have parliamentary approval for policy choices, and would not have seriously considered debasing or altering that tradition.
But now in summer 2019 we have before us the kind of ‘government’ that we might expect to read about in a country with serious democratic problems. We would never have conceived of it at home – here in the mother of parliaments.
Johnson, Cummings, Raab and their friends care nothing for our democracy. Everything is to be sacrificed on the altar of Brexit – and only the hardest Brexit, one that rips us out not only of trade arrangements but also any agreement on defence, policing and security, education, and shared work to stop climate chaos, poverty and inequality, will do. The right have seen their chance to turn the UK into a far right, low tax, low regulation, low rights nation. They will let nothing get in their way.
The temptation is to fall into defeatism. Johnson and Cummings in Number 10? Parliament all but shut down in the run up to No Deal? Is it game over?
This is what Johnson wants us to feel. He wins when we stop fighting. The good news is that he is actually in a weak position. A confident PM would not prorogue Parliament – they would face Parliament down, win the argument and win the vote. Prorogation is the act of a coward, a man who knows that he cannot win a vote and wants to do all he can to avoid scrutiny and accountability.
Johnson has a notional majority of one in Parliament – in reality no majority at all as there are now Tory MPs opposed to him and to No Deal. He is pursuing a policy for which there is no majority in his own party – never mind in Parliament or the country. His goal is to unite the pro-Leave vote, winning back voters from the Brexit Party, and then to beat Remain parties in a general election called when Parliament has ruled out No Deal. He’s desperate to fight and win an election – and to do it before No Deal turns the M20 into a lorry park and Tesco into an empty warehouse. He would then have five years to wreak havoc on our country. It’s the job of MPs, of Labour members and the public to stop him.
We are not without options. MPs have their job to do – and plans are afoot to stop Johnson, No Deal and the attack on our democracy.
The rest of us are far from powerless. Here are a few things that you can do this weekend to help stop Johnson, stop No Deal and save the day.
3. Write to your MP. There’s one thing you need to know about your MP. Whichever party they’re from, they care about keeping their seat, which means that if you’re their constituent they care what you think. Use your power. Write them an email using our easy tool. Amend the wording to say what you want to say (be polite, rants don’t get read).
Ask your MP to oppose the prorogation of parliament, to oppose No Deal, support a second referendum, and campaign for Remain. You could add that you fear for the future of our democracy if MPs do not act in the next week. They need to know that you care – and that their job is on the line.
Want to go to the next level? Arrange to visit their surgery to talk in person. You have every right to tell them what you think. Use it.
6. If you’re a Labour member, use your power as a member to pass a CLP motion, talk to your MP or write to Jeremy Corbyn. If you’re a union member talk to your union leadership – they have influence over Labour and a public platform to speak out against Brexit. We need Labour to back Remain in all circumstances – the time for sitting on the fence on Brexit has long passed. Use your voice in the party to help get us the rest of the way.
At the end of August 2019 we have to recognise that things are bad. We should have stopped Brexit by now. We should have won the argument for a second referendum and the argument for Remain. We should have held and won a second vote by now, and have defeated the lies of the Brexiters. That we haven’t is testament to their tenacity – and to our failure to work together, to develop the right messaging, and to our failure to fight fire with fire.
It’s not too late – but please know that now is the time. If you haven’t yet done all that you can to stop Brexit, if you’ve thought maybe that it’s someone else’s job, please get involved. We can stop Johnson and Cummings forming Britain in their own image – but we have to do it now.
Mike Buckley is the Director of Labour for a Public Vote.
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