Kenny MacAskill: On second Brexit referendum, don't be fooled by talk of unrest

A no-deal Brexit would be mutually assured destruction for the UK and EU, so the latter will work with Britain to enable a second referendum to take place. And the UK should not be deterred from this necessary course of action by suggestions it would lead to civil disruption, writes Kenny MacAskill.

Demonstrators call for a Peoples Vote on whether the UK should press ahead with Brexit (Picture: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty)
Demonstrators call for a Peoples Vote on whether the UK should press ahead with Brexit (Picture: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty)

What a farce is being played out before our very eyes. Tragically it’s not some Brian Rix-type sitcom on an obscure channel but the proceedings in the House of Commons, live on every news broadcast. The Mother of Parliaments it most certainly isn’t as its procedures, never mind many of its elected members, are shown to be antediluvian.

Foreign viewers must vary between jaw-dropping incredulity and side-splitting laughter. Brian Rix-type programmes were never really my cup of tea but they were innocent and enjoyed by many. This is criminal by Theresa May and threatening for all of us.

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My contempt grew as her Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, hectored MPs in the debate like some latter-day Rumple of the Bailey and strutted around looking like a demented penguin. The performance of the Prime Minister herself proved even more hapless. Acting like some caricature of the most incompetent First World War General, she insisted on greater thunder from the artillery and ever more troops going over the top. All to deliver the victory she seemed to maniacally still believe was deliverable.

Greater thunder bearing down on Brussels is pointless as the EU is both resolute and entrenched. Ever greater number of troops are unavailable and the current ones are mutinying. She has been shown to possess neither strategy nor skill, and she’s only sustained by shamelessness.

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Her tenure as Home Secretary has unravelled and she has survived it by sacrificing those who have followed her in the post. Amber Rudd’s resignation as Home Secretary over immigration had much more to do with the failings of Theresa May than her own actions. Now, as the police service in England and Wales hits breaking point and knife crime reaches a nadir in London, it’s another incumbent left to try and address her mess.

Nothing seems to embarrass her, whether it’s that lamentable record or her complete failure to develop a strategy to deal with the Brexit vote. It’s hard to decide whether her lukewarm support for Remain during the referendum was tactical, as with Corbyn, or if she was just being herself. She survived an internal coup on her leadership not because there’s faith in her but because there’s greater fear of a successor, whether within or without the Tory party. The defeat when it came on Tuesday night was crushing and yet she seemed unfazed. It’s beginning to seem that, more and more, it’s an automaton that has the keys to Number 10 but its computer programme is limited.

It’s all beginning to look more like Peter Sellars in Being There where a fool came to power as everyone assumed that he must be a genius. Sadly, for us it’s neither funny, nor is she a genius, just the dud in office who no one can remove.

But go she must as she is totally useless and inept. It’s not pity but contempt that’s growing for her within her own party, as well as in the country more generally. Machinations with the opposition to seek some lowest common denominator and a further flight to Brussels to plead for her own skin are futile. She has to go even if she was sustained by last night’s confidence vote for she is in office but not in power, all as the country heads towards the cliff edge of a no-deal Brexit.

MPs have to be prepared to put the national good before that of their own party. It will take courage as the hostility towards them from some quarters will be great, the vehemence of the Tory Eurosceptics matched by the duplicity from Corbyn’s Office. Parliament, under the Speaker John Bercow and working across party divides, needs to seek to withdraw Article 50 and arrange for another vote. It’s certain that the EU will grant it to avoid the mutually assured destruction that is looming. Another vote won’t be easy or without its challenges but it’s the only way out.

Of course, the rabid right and their Neanderthal supporters will cry foul but they always would unless they got what they wanted. As with Boris Johnson, there is nothing that they will not say or are prepared to do in pursuit of power in his case and the delusional Second British Empire with others.

There’s no doubt a few arguments that can be made to support implementation of the first Brexit vote but they’re dwarfed in my view by the flagrant lies that were told, the illegality if not criminality that took place, and the total failure of people to know what they were voting for and the implications of it.

However, the argument that a second vote shouldn’t take place because of the risk of civil disruption is disreputable. It’s the refuge of a scoundrel which was why it was no surprise to see it being made by Chris Grayling, a man whose track record in office makes even Theresa May look moderately competent. He suggested that to do so would “open the door to extremist populist political forces”. Most of us thought they were already represented in the hard-line Brexiteers. The suggestion that this could empower the Tommy Robinsons of this world is fanciful. They’ve been boosted by Brexit and will be busted by its defeat.

It minded me of Eugene Terre’blanche, the white supremacist Afrikaner who opposed not just the ANC but democracy in South Africa, threatening violence and disorder if it came about. As it was, Nelson Mandela came to power and South Africa was reborn though still isn’t without its challenges. Terre’blanche was just a thug who died a brutal death in 2010.

Bluster over a second vote is the same as the baloney told at the first. There’s a threat from the extreme right but they’re not democratic and need dealt with by our police. Thankfully their still limited in ability let alone intellect. Democracy isn’t threatened by another vote but by the consequences of not doing so.