Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

What a Parliament of pusillanimists / Our topsy-turvy politics of obfuscation and delay

You knew this was coming, but you couldn't make it up.

A Prime Minister repudiates postponement but permits the Commons, no longer representing commoners, to defer departure.

A Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition denies a second plebiscite, but announces that his party backs another ballot.

An apoplectic electorate, at least beyond the M25. Who governs whom?

The very model of a modern model Parliament

"When in that House MPs divide / If they've a brain and cerebellum, too / They've got to leave that brain outside / And vote just as their leaders tell 'em to." Iolanthe, 1882

Brexit surely lends itself to the Savoy operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, where pirates are Parliamentarians and grand institutions dissolve into satirical lampoonery.

One must applaud the absurdism of the Brexitwreckers: to enact the will of the people, the people will be ignored. 

I've got a little list 

Fearful socialists seeking to conserve the past; frightened free market Tories clinging to quotas and tariffs; politicians petrified by the prospect of democracy, horrified by their own headlines.

We may as well demand a retrospective delay of the 2016 Tory leadership race until after May's departure, or the re-staging of any general election from history.

Undemocratic, you say? But this is the nature of electoral cycle myopia: Westminster is now only about burning down the House for firewood through the winter.

It's just too difficult.

It can't be done.

It doesn't matter – do your duty and get on with it. Parliament relieved itself of decision-making with the referendum.

But in spite of all temptations

They're not all bad, though. Kate Hoey, Scott Mann, Graham Stringer and Owen Paterson are all MPs billed as Bruges Group speakers in recent months, making the case against half-in, half-out measures.

Mr Paterson, a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, told such an event today that the Northern Ireland backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement had been copied from an EU arrangement with Turkey drafted 20 years ago, requiring out of date wet-stamped paperwork for goods - long superseded by technology.

He said: "We have a Remain Parliament that is not committed to delivering what the people voted for.

"What we should be much more mindful of is the damage to the integrity of democratic institutions." 

An audience member from Dominic Grieve's Beaconsfield constituency stated that they had proposed a resolution for the local party to deselect him as the Conservative candidate at the next election. 

Catherine Blaiklock, leader of The Brexit Party, wondered whether Brexit-delaying MPs of both main parties had considered the electoral consequences of strong Leave votes in their constituencies; David Kurten, UKIP London Assembly member, asked if the implementation had been discussed in Parliament of GATT Article 24, where existing trade arrangements can continue temporarily while both sides reach a deal.  

John Mills, the veteran Labour Party donor and Labour Leave founder, said: "The gulf between Parliament and the people is getting dangerously wide."

The Law is the true embodiment / Of everything that's excellent

MPs are wont to quote the political theorist Edmund Burke, elected to the seat of Bristol in 1774, who said that he owed his constituents not only his industry but also his judgment, and that he betrays electors if he sacrificed it to their opinion.

He was voted out at the next election.

Back to Gilbert and Sullivan, and Iolanthe:

"But then the prospect of a lot / Of dull MPs in close proximity / All thinking for themselves, is what / No man can face with equanimity."

So little, or so much, has been achieved in the past 32 months, of course, that another couple will certainly make all the difference. I'm quite sure of that.

Aren't you?

Register to send an automated email to your MP asking to leave on 29 March.

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Contact us

Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
246 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent Street
London W1B 5TB
United Kingdom
Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames