August 28, 2019 11.41 am This story is over 51 months old

Barry Turner: Proroguing Parliament will make Britain ungovernable

The crossroads and the cliff edge

As we approach the recall of Parliament, the lawyers and the academics are hard at work at their keyboards churning out ever more speculation about what will actually happen on or before the 31st October. While the legal arguments are fascinating and in the large part accurate, it is not the law that will decide this. It is politics and history.

The proroguing of Parliament will destroy the political system in the UK once and for all and there is some argument for saying that it might be worth it just for that.

It will certainly destroy the government who will face rebellion from Parliament for the rest of its term on just about every issue.

In short, the country will become ungovernable.

Post Brexit there will be years of negotiations, deal making and diplomacy in order to reset our position not only in Europe but the world. What a wonderful opportunity that would be for revenge on a proroguing PM.

A no deal Brexit that causes serious problems will not as some suggest be blamed entirely on the EU.

The problem with that facile argument is that even if it was entirely the EU’s fault the responsibility for sorting out the mess would be on our government.

Six months or a year down the road it would be no good simply pointing at the EU and saying “its all their fault”.

Whoever was in power here, in post Brexit UK would be expected to sort out the woes of the people here, arguing with an organisation we no longer belonged to would be cold comfort if we did actually ‘fall of a cliff’.

Parliament has lost the confidence of the people of the UK.

The voters are sick of their lack of respect for representative democracy and the people they are supposed to serve. The attitude of many in Parliament starkly compares with that of the government of the former German Democratic Republic following the 1953 political unrest there.

We have heard this repeated over and over again over the last three years as the rallying cry for another referendum. “The people did not know what they were voting for”.

Why after three years of wild speculation, fake news, propaganda and downright lies they would be any better informed today is casually ignored. The fact is that the people did know what they were voting for in June 2016.

Parliamentarians have no right to ever question the political decisions of the electorate. If you lose the election, referendum or argument you start the campaign for the next time round. To brazenly call for a dismissal of a democratic vote is entirely unacceptable.

Our political system is not fit for purpose, our political parties, all of them are riddled with self-interest groups and individuals who put the wishes of the people and the good of the country well behind their own priorities of self-aggrandisement and enrichment.

If our legislature and government really cared about democracy they would set about changing the way we govern the UK as number one priority, well above the current obsession with Brexit.

Britain is truly at a crossroads but it is not the one that leads to Brexit or no Brexit. The decision at this crossroads is democracy or oligarchy, pluralist democracy under the rule of law or the palace coup and the seizure of power by elites.

The use of legal and Parliamentary mechanisms to undermine democracy by either side in this schism will not lead to a solution, but a dissolution of the last vestiges of representative democracy in the UK.

That really will be falling off a cliff.

Barry Turner is a Senior Lecturer in War Reporting and Human Rights and a member of the Royal United Services Institute.