Why Brexiteers should beware a forced no-deal Brexit – leader comment

Cabinet minister Amber Rudd warned against suspending parliament, saying: "We are not Stuart kings." (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Cabinet minister Amber Rudd warned against suspending parliament, saying: "We are not Stuart kings." (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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Democracy has long been a rallying cry for Brexiteers and even some Remainers have sympathy with complaints about the lack of transparency and accountability in the Brussels decision-making process.

Democracy has long been a rallying cry for Brexiteers and even some Remainers have sympathy with complaints about the lack of transparency and accountability in the Brussels decision-making process.

So it now seems odd for some prominent politicians, including Boris Johnson, to be even countenancing the suspension of Parliament to prevent our democratically elected representatives from interfering with the no-deal Brexit that is due to take place on 31 October.

MPs may have foolishly agreed to leave with or without a deal when Article 50 was triggered in 2017, but no one then thought the latter scenario was remotely likely and the evidence of the damage to the economy that would be caused is now much more stark.

MPs, like any of us, have the right to change their minds based on new information. Denying them the ability to do this would be a disgraceful and deeply undemocratic act, out of keeping with the Brexiteers’ stated views on the importance of the sovereignty of parliament. So it is welcome that a cross-party group of MPs and peers are launching a legal challenge to the idea that the next prime minister could ask the Queen to suspend Parliament to allow a no-deal Brexit. Given the closeness of the Brexit referendum result and the widespread expectation that the UK would get a deal, it is hard to argue there is a mandate to leave without one.

All politicians should consider the dangers of forcing through a no-deal Brexit that then plunges the UK into a recession, which some experts believe could be as bad as the 2008 financial crash. If that happens, it would inevitably lead to calls to rejoin the EU. So Brexiteers should do some hard thinking about whether no deal would pose a threat to their ultimate aim. They should also consider the damage to their ideological case for Brexit caused by proroguing parliament. As Cabinet minister Amber Rudd quipped: “We are not Stuart kings.” Attempting to solve one crisis, Charles I overplayed his hand and plunged the country into a much bigger one.

A Brexiteer may be about to move into 10 Downing Street, but Jo Swinson was yesterday announced as leader of the resurgent Liberal Democrats, pledging she was “ready for the fight of our lives”. After a turbulent three years, it is absolutely vital that this ‘battle’ remains a thoroughly democratic one.