For all its strengths, Britain’s current political system seems to be incapable of providing government fit for a mature society. A self-serving, opportunistic culture has developed at the heart of our political establishment which makes good government next to impossible.
Many people find this deeply disturbing but it’s hardly surprising. The democratic system that evolved over the last few centuries has no foundations of its own; it was built, piecemeal, on a feudal framework whose central purpose was maintaining an unequal status quo.
What is Boris Johnson going to do about the Benn Act? He’s made apparently contradictory statements that he would comply with the law but will not ask the EU for an extension to the October 31st deadline, as the Act requires. There’s been a lot of discussion about this contradiction and legal commentators seem fairly confident that the Act is watertight and legally binding – but what will happen if he resigns as Prime Minister on the evening of the 19th of October?
Boris Johnson was appointed Prime Minister after his predecessor, Theresa May, told the Queen he commanded the confidence of the House of Commons – despite the fact that no more than a quarter of MPs had demonstrated support for him, and despite the fact many members of Parliament, even among his own party, openly regarded him as manifestly unfit for the position. MPs’ support being taken for granted in this way undermines public respect not just for Parliament, but also for our whole system of government.
The last three years have laid bare the inadequacies of our current political system and many people who were previously fairly happy with how our country is governed now recognise that, whatever happens with Brexit, we need fundamental change, not just in our relationship with Europe but also in the way our domestic politics works.
For now, though, most people find it hard to look
beyond the looming deadline – and that’s a large part of why the current
problem seems so intractable.
The 2016 referendum feels like a long time ago now but Parliament is perhaps, at last, trying to have the discussion that (in my innocence) I’d assumed would follow the shock of the result. Is it too much to hope that, before committing ourselves irrevocably to a profoundly disruptive course of action, Continue reading