The catastrophic handling of Brexit highlights to what extent our political process is now mired in the mud.
Theresa May has suffered no fewer than 27 Commons defeats, 10 of them in connection with Brexit. In no previous era of British politics could such a calamitous prime minister have survived such a weight of defeats, including the humiliating historic loss she recently suffered over the withdrawal agreement.
In the past, losing a vote of confidence on a key piece of legislation was considered sufficient to stand down. For example, having split his party over the Corn Laws in 1846, Sir Robert Peel resigned as prime minister after the defeat of his Irish Coercion Bill. Gladstone was also forced to resign in 1885, again after a defeat on the Irish issue.
In terms of the modern era, four prime ministers resigned and four stepped down on alleged grounds of ill health. Indeed, two quit office after even winning key votes because their margins of victory made them seem moral defeats. Neville Chamberlain resigned in May 1940, despite having won the division on the disastrous Norway campaign, and Margaret Thatcher famously resigned despite her victory over Michael Heseltine in the first round of a Tory leadership contest.
Realising the game was up, even David Cameron resigned after losing the Brexit referendum.
It is a damning indictment of May and her party that she can even contemplate staying in office. The French philosopher and diplomat Joseph de Maistre famously said: “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.” I disagree, we deserve so much better than this humiliating shambles.
Upholding the transgender military ban is shameful
The latest action of the Supreme Court in the USA is shameful. It has upheld President Trump’s transgender military ban. If somebody is willing to protect their country at the risk of their own lives then they should be able to. It’s that simple.
It’s time for the official opposition to step up and challenge May
Having a second referendum two years after the first (decided 52 per cent to 48 per cent) when there has been clarification of the implications of leaving the EU is apparently a betrayal of democracy. But having a second vote in parliament on May’s deal two weeks after the first (lost 68 per cent to 32 per cent) with no significant changes to the plan or the expected outcome is Theresa May’s “plan B”.
Only the weakest, most supine opposition since Michael Foot’s leadership of the Labour party could let this ludicrous situation develop. Backbench parliamentarians who believe in real democracy must do whatever is necessary to save this country from the disaster that the present government seems to be hellbent on delivering.
Brexit has ruined the peace Ireland fought so hard to create
The deepest sadness permeates this wretched thing called Brexit. Ireland was doing okay. We had a referendum on abortion (after 20 years of struggle). We had made as good a peace as we could with Northern Ireland via the Good Friday Agreement. We had our own referendum and the people here voted “yes” to give up Ireland’s claim to the territory of Northern Ireland (the six counties) to help that very peace process bed down.
And now? Northern Ireland will always be the thorn in Brexit’s side as it is a hybrid of two nationalities: Irish and British. Nothing can ever change this. This is why the EU was good for the island of Ireland. We could coexist with our different traditions, different perspectives, different experiences, and yet willingly belong, politically and economically, to something bigger that would unite us: the European Union.
I despair at the Tory party in their reckless bid for self-preservation. I desperately hope they fail.
We mustn’t resort to mob rule over Brexit
I am deeply concerned by the number of senior politicians in this country who have muttered dark warnings of civil disobedience, social unrest, violence in the streets and now, from the prime minister herself, threats to social cohesion if Brexit is not delivered on 29 March.
Such loose talk is dangerous and gives succour to those who believe that taking to the streets and trashing buildings is the best way to ensure that we leave the EU on time. Are politicians in this country now so cynical that they will stoop to a tactic as wrong-headed, ill-considered and profoundly unwise as this to get what they want? If we cannot all agree – no matter which side of the argument we are on, or whatever the rights and wrongs of the options that lie before us are – that mob rule is the worst of all worlds, then all hope is lost.
Women shouldn’t have to wear makeup
Julie Bindel’s words (“Come on feminists, it’s time to ditch makeup for good”) confirm my own lifelong view – the best a woman can be is 100 per cent natural from crown to soles, fresh scrubbed, unmodified, unadorned and complete of herself.
The pernicious tyranny of peer pressure, convention, habit, cosmetics, couture, “lifestyle”, commerce-driven media and all the other malign influences to which women are subject – including the actual or supposed views of men – can be and should be discarded.
The only rational choice is liberation from this tyranny and it is a choice only the individual woman can make. Freedom beckons.