Parliament has seldom seen such upheavals as we have witnessed this last few months. Centuries ago, long before Party politics became the accepted paradigm, it was not uncommon to see both raucous argument and the occasional brawl. Now, perhaps with the spicy infusion of Brexit, we have reached a point where fisticuffs and dagger drawing has been replaced by a compelling desire to declare that black is really white and that law is that which individual politicians and vocal groups of the same species wish it to be interpreted as. It’s a little bit like old Socrates saying ‘choose the laws you wish to obey and flout the rest’. The troubling corollary to that concept is that our social structures and cultures are behaving in exactly the same way - we are all choosing to see the law as some interpretable framework which we can twist and re-shape at our whim. Now that’s a dodgy precedent to set - be it for politicians or Joe Public.
The political arguments about what is law and what is not are, admittedly, made more confusing by virtue of our rather oral tradition constitution rather than a definitive, documented framework. Our forefathers clearly wanted to keep matters as flexible as possible when it came to the law. Yet the continuance of this oral tradition has enabled Parliament to wriggle and contort the law to say what it wants it to say at a certain point in time. The legislature has interpreted the law for its own purposes and has, to a large extent, influenced the judiciary to do the same - Gina Miller’s attempts to interfere with the government’s primacy in applying the law has gone from one court ruling to the next until, at some point in her campaign, she gets a verdict that suits her interpretation of the law. The 2016 Referendum result also illustrates the drift in procedure that allows the legal position agreed by all at that time to be continuously challenged in Parliament and the courts until someone, somewhere says that that verdict is the new verdict to be followed. It suits the political classes very well - ‘we don’t like that decision so we’ll render it illegal by manipulating the law to suit our new arguments’. And that’s exactly what is happening in Parliament. Lawyers are having a wonderful time making up interpretations of the law to suit the lobbying activities of those who disagree with that which was legally and properly decided over three and a half years ago. The Rule of Law has become the plaything of Parliament and is being disgracefully abused by those who would see Brexit trashed and forgotten.
Bristling Brock has long argued for major parliamentary reform in Britain. Right now, such reform is most unlikely because the modus operandi of certain political groupings is intent upon using the foggy interpretations of right and wrong to their own advantage and will no doubt sit like crowing cockerel’s as each manipulation leads to yet more removal of executive power and, by association, neuters the very ability of the country to be governed. Three hundred years back that was considered treason and whilst we should never give any government a blank cheque to do what it likes we are now at a point where decisive and rather blunt action is necessary to move us forward from the current Brexit swamp. In that, the Johnson government has been taking the right line. Britain can not afford to have a Parliament effectively superseding the authority of government - that can only happen - in law - at each general election - and government now needs to act with a certain level of firmness and commitment that has the authority of ‘real law’ to bring a certain finality to a parliamentary hijacked process that is damaging this nation enormously. The 31st October for departure from the EU should be inviolate. The EU are not now or ever going to renegotiate a deal that is acceptable to all factions so it is the government’s responsibility to enforce the closure point of this extremely sad period in our parliamentary history.
If the government succeed in this, they have the opportunity to introduce reforms that are long overdue - for their existing, so-called colleagues have shown themselves to be the least deserving of a seat in The Commons. It’s time for a shake-up in Westminster and Whitehall and a return to a respect for the law by both Parliament and society at large.