Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not launched a coup. We should not over-exaggerate the case. His actions are, however, an example of ‘sovereign fraud’.
Like it or not, Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament is perfectly legal. The Queen might very well have choked on her porridge, but she gave the prime minister her blessing and paved the way for Parliament to be muted whilst Brexit is being irrevocably defined. It’s a sad state of affairs for UK democracy, of course, because it was up to Parliament – not Boris Johnson – to carry out the will of the people and a deal was there to be accepted. The result of the 2016 referendum was a small majority to leave the EU that did not specify how and even when. In March 2017, when Article 50 was triggered putting in motion the unstoppable train departing from Lisbon, Parliament had no idea concerning the divisive nature of Brexit.
Saying that the prorogation of Parliament is a “coup” is an over-reaction that I and others are guilty of. It goes without saying that what is happening in the UK is not to be compared with what is happening in other countries around the world where not only is the political system being distorted by corrupt politicians greedy for power, but human rights and freedom to oppose political groups in power are being thwarted on a daily basis.
Brexit has become a war of Religion. Whereas Europe has always been a thorny issue in British politics, the referendum – which had no place in a parliamentary democracy that is not used to holding referendums – has not only fractured a UK society that is a medieval class society at the best of times, but has now smashed its way through the British political system. What Boris Johnson has done is just a consequence of the incapability of Parliament to debate and decide in a reasoned fashion.
Remainers and Leavers are equally to blame for creating a political process that is deadlocked. We are as bad as each other, dare I say. The whole situation reflects a polarisation of UK society where those for and those against the EU hate each other’s guts. There is no place for discussion, only insults and hatred.
Boris Johnson’s desire to impose his own agenda on the back of a people’s vote is nothing new. It is just another example of what can be described as “sovereign fraud,” where political leaders invoke the will of the people when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn’t.
In 2005, the Dutch and the French voted against the Treaty Establishing a Constitution of Europe. The European Council stated at the time that,
We do not feel that the date initially planned for a report on ratification of the Treaty, 1 November 2006, is still tenable, since those countries which have not yet ratified the Treaty will be unable to furnish a clear reply before mid-2007.
The EU went on to enforce the ratification of a modified version of the very same treaty – the Lisbon Treaty – that came into force in 2009, with Ireland being the only Member-State to hold a referendum.
Other examples of sovereign fraud concern the enlargement of the EU with 10 Central-European countries in 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. The enlargement created a fundamental change in the nature of the Union, was imposed upon its citizens and lead to the migration and political consequences that we are facing today. When did the people get the chance to have a say via a referendum?
Boris Johnson should call a general election in order to obtain a mandate to carry out the will of the people, Anno 2019. Instead, he has acted unilaterally in an attempt to force the EU to give up on the Irish border. By turning the threat of the UK leaving without a deal into reality, Johnson hopes to get a new deal that Parliament will, he says, “have plenty of time to discuss.” This is not about personal ambition and a pre-set political agenda, according to Johnson. It is “business as usual,” and about respecting the decision of a popular vote that was answering a simple question – leave or remain. It was, in fact, a simple question that requires a more than complicated answer.
Boris Johnson may very well think that he is carrying out the will of the people….I couldn’t possibly comment!
George is a British/French national. He has a passion for oral microbiology (obtained a PhD in Lyon, France) and a passion for philosophy and politics.