Nelson McCausland: Arrogance of globalist elite is real reason why UK has not left EU
Too many MPs, in spite of their manifesto commitments, are refusing to respect the Brexit referendum result, writes Nelson McCausland.
Last Friday was March 29, 2019. It was the day that the United Kingdom was to leave the European Union. More than 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU, and in March 2017 Parliament voted to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
There were some MPs who voted against invoking Article 50 — 47 Labour MPs joined with a solitary Conservative, Ken Clarke, seven Liberal Democrats and an assortment of MPs from the SNP, SDLP, Plaid Cymru and Green Party to oppose it.
However, the overwhelming majority of MPs voted for us to leave on March 29. In so doing, Parliament set down in law that the United Kingdom would leave the EU on March 29, 2019, and that was the start of the countdown to our ‘independence day’.
Both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party were committed to that and both parties fought the general election in June 2017 with the manifesto commitment that they would respect the result of the referendum.
Lest there be any doubt about it, Theresa May told us, on more than 50 occasions, that we would be out of the EU on March 29. She was absolutely clear and unequivocal. There was to be no extending Article 50 and there was to be no revoking Article 50.
That is why there is so much public anger about what has happened since then. This is not just about the European Union and Brexit, this is about democracy and the determination of Remainers to subvert the result of a democratic referendum.
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The truth is that the majority of MPs in both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party voted Remain in the referendum, somewhere around 75%. However both parties are deeply divided, with the membership of the Conservative Party at odds with their MPs and many Labour voters at odds with the Labour MPs.
The focus is generally on the divisions with the Conservative Party, because they are the party of government, but the divisions are there within the Labour movement too.
Labour has had an influx of young idealists who are mostly Remainers, but they need the votes of working-class constituencies where so many working-class people voted Leave.
This split was illustrated recently when trade union activist Eddie Dempsey addressed a Full Brexit rally. This drew condemnation from Labour MP and staunch Remainer Clive Lewis, who resigned from the shadow cabinet over the triggering of Article 50. Of course Eddie Dempsey, a member of the Connolly Association, isn’t the only trade union activist to support Brexit. Paul Embery, who serves on the executive of the Fire Brigade Union, is the national organiser for Trade Unionists against the EU.
Very often, those who support Brexit are dismissed by Remainers as too old or uneducated or xenophobic or far-right or whatever, but the reality is that the left is as divided over Brexit as the right. Indeed, that has always been the case.
At the time of the 1975 referendum on the European Community, those opposed to the European Community included Labour MPs such as Peter Shore. On this side of the North Channel, both Official Sinn Fein and Provisional Sinn Fein opposed membership.
That only changed when Sinn Fein needed EU membership, with its message of harmonisation and integration, to convince their followers that while the IRA had not driven out the Brits, the border would be gradually dissolved.
It’s not a left-right issue, and that is one of the reasons why Parliament, with its current arithmetic, finds it so difficult.
However, the main reason is simply this. We have too many Conservative and Labour MPs who do not, in spite of manifesto commitments, respect the democracy of a referendum.
One hundred years ago, the Representation of the People Act gave the vote to working-class men and some women.
I suspect that today some of the globalist elite who oppose Brexit really regret that reform.
They are appalled at the fact that so many ordinary people — who form the overwhelming majority of that 17.4 million — dared to vote against the European Union, and they are determined to subvert it.