It is almost 375 years since the last great English Civil War when King Charles I was beheaded for believing too strongly in the divine right of kings to rule our country. Are we about to have another civil war to emasculate the Remainers who believe too strongly in the divine right of the European Union to do the same?
Charles, like his father, James I, believed that a king was established by God to rule a nation and therefore a king’s (his) decisions on how to rule could not be wrong. Charles therefore expected Parliament to do as he said. No argument was either expected nor accepted.
However, for four years after his accession to the throne in 1625, Charles argued with Parliament on most issues, though mainly on the question of money, and in 1629 he finally refused to let Parliament meet. Members of Parliament then remained locked out of Parliament for 11 years while Charles used his divine right to rule the country.
Eventually, of course, he ran out of money and the doors were unlocked but the arguments between king and Parliament continued. By 1642 breaking point was reached and Charles went to Parliament with 300 soldiers to arrest his five biggest critics. Luckily, they escaped but the king had shown his true colours. Parliament represented the people of England, but the king was attempting to arrest members of this Parliament for criticism. Who else would be safe? Even Charles now realised that relations had broken down completely between him and Parliament and six days later fled London for Oxford where he raised an army to fight Parliament for control of England.
And so the civil war broke out with the ‘Roundheads’ fighting for Parliament and the rights of the People, and the ‘Cavaliers’ fighting for the Charles I and the divine rights of kings.
Now think of the Brexiteers, those of us who wish to rule our own country, as Roundheads and the Remainers, those who support Britain staying within the European Union, as Cavaliers.
From its inception almost 60 years ago, the EU has extended its boundaries to include more and more European countries and has been determined to keep them within its boundaries. It is no lover of a free democracy. Due to their constitutions some countries were compelled to hold referendums in order to ratify EU treaties, etc., but when Ireland and Denmark on occasion had the gall to vote No, they were forced by the unelected commissioners to vote again, to come up with the right answer.
So when in the Referendum on 23rd June this year Britain – one of the three main member states – voted to leave the European Union, it was always unlikely that we should be able to escape without a great struggle and just one Referendum.
Because of the barrage of fear put out in the media, the result of the Referendum was totally unexpected by the Government, Parliament and the great and good of the country. Most of them had wanted and expected, that the people would vote to Remain in the European Union. Even the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit had their fingers firmly crossed. But they were in the majority and the referendum result went their way.
However, the Remainers were not going to leave it at that.
First, they screamed for a new Referendum, giving various disparaging excuses; then they refused to consider what the people had voted for, a ‘hard’ Brexit which would return law-making and border control to this country, saying being outside of the Single Market would ruin the country. They wanted a ‘soft’ Brexit which would be much the same as being a full member. But with good news rather than bad following the Leave result, feelings hardened against such ideas, even amongst previous Remainers. So they took their complaint to the high court.
On 2nd November, a group of plaintiffs argued that since Parliament is sovereign, there must be a vote on Brexit before the famous Article 50 is triggered. The case was heard by three high court judges, one of whom, Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, was a founder member of the European Law Institute. Regrettably, the judges agreed with the plaintiffs, and have thereby opposed the will of the people. And possibly caused a constitutional crisis.
Prime Minister Theresa May had promised to trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year but a long debate in Parliament could delay this for at least a year. A vote against it could cause a new general election or, a worst case, the overturning of the June referendum and call for a new one.
This is wrong. It is a denial of democracy. And as such it must be fought not only by those who wish to leave the EU but by all Remainers with a scrap of common sense and who do not wish to live under an authoritarian government. It must be remembered that Parliament serves the people, it does not rule people.
In the 17th century Parliament fought the king on behalf of the people. Now, it must be the people fighting the Parliament on their own behalf.
But let us hope that this will not be another Civil War.