Johnson's Coup against Democracy
Unelected Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced he will approach the Queen to ‘prorogue’ (suspend) Parliament for the crucial period before it has the opportunity to debate and vote on Brexit. Johnson’s motives are transparent.
He knows the majority of MPs, including many Tories, are completely opposed to a no-deal Brexit. He knows crashing out without a deal would cause lasting damage to the livelihoods of the vast majority of working class people in Britain. He doesn’t care. All he cares about is that, by exiting the EU on October 31st he will scupper the threat of Farage’s Brexit Party to the Tories’ electoral prospects.
Johnson is trying to pull a fast one. He became our Prime Minister by being elected as leader of the Tory Party by a ballot of Party members. Less than 100,000 people - overwhelmingly white, male and rich - voted for him. The population of Britain is about 66 million, so 0.13% of the population gave him their support. Johnson’s elevation to PM seems to millions of Labour supporters to be a coup.
That feeling becomes certainty as the latest news leaks out. John McDonnell calls this attempt to silence Parliamentary critics “a very British coup.” Prorogation of Parliament is a dodgy tactic for Johnson. It involves dragging the Queen into political controversy. Will she take the advice of our unelected Prime Minister? We don’t know.
We do know that the monarchy has been used very sparingly as a weapon by the ruling class as a last resort. For instance in 1931 George V called on Ramsay MacDonald to desert Labour and form a national government dominated by the Tories. If the impartiality of the monarchy is called into question, then it cannot be used as a weapon in the class struggle again.
Jeremy Corbyn has written to the Queen asking for clarification. He says, “Boris Johnson’s attempt to suspend Parliament to avoid scrutiny of his plans for a reckless no-deal Brexit is an outrage and a threat to our democracy. Labour will work across Parliament to hold the government to account and prevent a disastrous no deal... We're doing everything we can to stop Boris Johnson's smash and grab against our democracy.” Even John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons and elected as a Tory, describes it as a “constitutional outrage.”
Johnson’s government lacks any democratic legitimacy. He pretends he needs to suspend Parliament in order to present his government’s programme in a new Queen’s speech. In reality he is determined to deny Parliament the opportunity to discuss what has been described as ‘the most important decision to be taken by this country since the Second World War’
Hard line Brexiteers like Johnson spoke in 2015 about the opportunity of leaving the EU as a chance to ‘take back control’. Johnson is now setting himself up as a dictator in the UK. He must not allowed to get away with it.
Postscript August 29th
Johnson has asked the he Queen to suspend Parliament for over a month. She has agreed. Parliament will meet briefly in September and then be forcibly close down till the middle of October for five weeks. This is an executive decision which cannot be challenged by MPs. This reminds us of earlier clashes between the monarchy and Parliament which, in the seventeenth century, led to revolution and civil war. Most of us thought it was established long ago that, in a democracy, Parliament is supreme.
Johnson’s intention is not to allow Parliament to have enough time to pass legislation preventing the UK leaving the EU without a deal. There is a clear majority of MPs, including some Tories, who are fiercely opposed to Britain crashing out without a deal. Nobody voted for a no-deal Brexit in 2016. As Michael Gove, one of the leaders of the Vote Leave campaign said at the time, “But we didn’t vote to leave without a deal. That wasn’t the message of the campaign I helped lead.” Any claim of the Johnson administration that they are carrying out ‘the will of the people’ is a filthy lie.
Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, where a majority of the population voted to remain in the EU, has accurately described Johnson as a tin-pot dictator. An unelected Prime Minister wants to ride roughshod over the will of Parliament. This is a coup. It produced demonstrations in towns and cities throughout Britain on the evening after the announcement. So far over a million people have signed a petition in protest against the coup. Now what is needed is mass campaign of civil disobedience against this attempt to annul democracy. Watch out for what is being planned in your area - and keep us posted.