“Frankly deranged!” The words of Conservative former attorney general, Dominic Grieve, as he attacked his own parties government of deliberately not guaranteeing MPs a vote on the outcome of the Brexit negotiation.
On Monday evening the Brexit bill was presented to the House of Commons (HoC) ready for debate and vote. The bill had previously been debated in the House of Lords (HoL) with crucial amendments added.
A series of crucial amendments were aimed at guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in the UK after the triggering of Article 50 and once the UK leaves the EU. Secondly was the amendment to guarantee the HoC a “meaningful vote” of the final negotiation outcomes.
However, the HoC voted to reject these amendments. The HoC now joins the rank of numerous failed democracies. The Roman Senate voting to create Caeser a Dictator; the german parliament in 1933 to give Adolf Hitler extreme authoritarian powers; the Turkish parliament holding a referendum on moving from a parliamentary republic to a presidential system; and of course the Galactic senate “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” voting to make Palpatine the first Emporer of the First Galactic Empire.
Yes, the HoC actually voted against an amendment to give themselves a more prominent, and democratic, role in the Brexit process. Instead, MPs decided to formally give all the power to Senator Palpatine. Oh wait or was it Theresa May? No, I’m fairly sure I was right the first time.
After a period of “ping pong”, the name given to the phenomenon of a bill bouncing
across the chambers, the Brexit bill was approved. In the end, it was the HoL bowing down to the democratic supremacy of the HoC who did not want any amendments to the bill.
However, questions have to be asked of how Democratic the HoC actually is when a single party can force their members to vote in such a way as to diminish their own democratic power. Instead, the historically undemocratic and unelected HoL were the ones trying to bring a sense of democracy to the Brexit proceedings.
So for as long as a single party can rule the HoC, the HoL will remain a crucial part of British Democracy. Especially in a time a constitutional unease such as now with the Brexit negotiations, the HoL will need to remain the quiet voice of calm in the storm of the Conservative government. Hopefully, the HoL will be able to guilt enough Conservative and other party, MPs into doing the right democratic thing.