Yes, I know it is Thursday, not Monday, but I can hardly let the events of yesterday wait another four days before I talk about them. Besides, I suspect a great deal more is going to happen in the next four days…!
In case you missed it yesterday, here’s what happened. Jacob Rees-Mogg went to see Her Majesty in his role as “Lord President of the Privy Council” to advise her that Parliament should be “prorogued”. The Queen, who I imagine at first thought that Moggy was a Palace ghost from the 19th Century, has no choice. So she had to sign the order to stop Parliament for a month.
The last time anyone stopped Parliament for this long was back in 1628, and the person who asked for that to happen had his head chopped off. The result was the Civil War.
I’m guessing that the Tower of London is not sharpening any axes. But I do suspect that police forces across the UK are dusting off their history books to see what they did in 1990. That’s when the country last was so outraged at a Government decision and mass protests halted the proposal for a “community charge” or “poll tax”.
It is worthwhile remembering that the Government at the time was merely implementing “the will of the people”. They had won an election victory promising to replace the unpopular rating system. Yet, even though the poll tax had been voted on democratically, it never happened because mass protests forced the Government to change – in spite of election promises and a democratic decision.
So, just because Brexit is “the will of the people” (it isn’t, by the way – but that’s another issue), it doesn’t follow that the democratic decision has to be followed. Indeed, at every election for centuries politicians have been elected to perform promises made in manifestos which they subsequently never deliver. The notion that the Government “has to” complete Brexit is patent nonsense.
What is clear from yesterday’s actions is that the Government is scared. One unmistakable signal of fear is that in spite of repeated demands from dozens of media channels, no-one from the Government was available for interview. There were some pre-recorded soundbites from ministers all saying how important it was to prorogue Parliament and that it was a good idea. Just a month or so ago, every single one of those ministers now agreeing with cancelling Parliament for more than a month had said it was a bad idea and they would “never agree to it”.
There’s another indication of fear too. I understand that the announcement about prorogation was never meant to be made when it happened. It appears to have been rushed out in a panicked response to the agreement on a plan of action from the opposition parties the day before. That seems to have caught Boris on the hop.
Also, if the Government were so sure their plans for Brexit were perfectly OK, there would be no need to cancel Parliament. They clearly know that what they are trying to do is bonkers, wrong, flawed and dangerous. They are scared that Parliament will show them up as stupid. But they shouldn’t be afraid of that, we already know that’s the case.
What will happen now? Who knows? Uncharted territory and all that. But what we can be sure of is that we need to hang on to our hats and prepare for anything. Indeed, I suspect it is all going to become quite stormy ahead. And that in itself is very apt because it was Captain Troy TEMPEST who used to say at the start of the 1964 science fiction TV show “Stingray” – “Anything can happen in the next half hour”.