A politician’s duty about Brexit

A politician’s duty about Brexit

How rare it is today to hear anyone talk about duty except as a description of tax. It seems as though we have got into a frame of mind where “Duty Free” applies to our personal standards, as well as at the airport, and absolves us of any personal responsibility. Very misleading because we are never duty free. So what is a politician’s duty about Brexit?

First it is to lead. Democratic elections are intended to place Representatives of the people in parliament as Trustees elected to do what they think is right. Obviously they must broadly satisfy their constituents’ wishes or they won’t be re-elected. However, they are not there to be directed by their constituents on any issue other than, perhaps, a constitutional one. It is arguable, just, that leaving the European Union could be thought a constitutional issue.

Delegates have much more limited powers and are given specific instructions about what they may and may not vote for and agree with. Democracies do not place Delegates in their Parliaments because Parliament would never function if they did.

The British people voted 36% to leave the EU and about 34% not to. About 30% didn’t vote. At the same time a majority of the Members of Parliament – those Trustee Representatives – do not want to leave the EU. They come from all political parties except the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Any politician looking at those figures must question what to do about this result very carefully. The people are divided or disaffected but their leaders agree.

So what have the three main characters in the plot done? David Cameron, Prime Minister, has resigned. He had to, didn’t he? Well, if the result had been clear, certainly. But it wasn’t. I think his duty is to get the next steps clear and then decide his future. To this end he should have called a National Coalition Government. It is the only way to include the widely differing points of view. He chose differently and is now a very lame duck Prime Minister. He cannot, and will not, negotiate EU departure terms. Nor, it seems, will anyone else.

Boris Johnson led the Leave campaign. He marginally – but not clearly – won. Then he quit. Start a war and then head for a neutral country? I suppose it will be seen by some as clever. Many of his colleagues called it an act of cowardice. I call it simply an abrogation of duty.

So what about M Gove, aspiring Prime Minister. I think he has managed to combine all the worst elements of why people are angry about politicians. Strident, dogmatic, treacherous and self-seeking to the apparent exclusion of any concern for his country, his party, his friends or his beliefs. Well done, M Gove. A wonderful example to my 11 grandchildren.

So what about strange Mr Corbyn, him of the undecided left? I see that not even the spell-check has caught up with him yet. Bit late now I imagine. I don’t think he’ll ever make it to Centre Court, do you? And Mr Farage, having just reached the spell-check, has hung up his rackets or was it only one racket? Anyway, he’s left for a well-deserved break. Why should he worry about what he has set up? He’s finished insulting the European Parliament, told them they are not laughing now and bunked off. Duty done?

Go on – you choose which one is doing his or her duty.

I can’t.