Brexit: Parliament Is Doing Its Proper Job

There has been much comment and criticism of the United Kingdom for the inability of the Government and Parliament to agree on the future relationship with Europe that the UK wishes to have after it leaves the European Union.  No one can deny that this is an issue which deeply divides both the public and the politicians. But it is worth remembering that this debate in Britain is taking place peacefully, without violence, without riot police and with no “yellow vests” anywhere in sight. If the Government is losing control of  Brexit policy it is losing it to Parliament not to demonstrators in the streets. Parliament is doing its proper job with MPs in both the Conservative and Labour Parties refusing to give automatic support to whatever their party leaders wish, writes Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary of the United Kingdom between 1992-1997.

This is how a proper parliamentary democracy should work; far better than those authoritarian states where there is no real debate and where MPs are not permitted to refuse to support the Prime Minister or President.

In the next few weeks or months Britain will leave the EU  and the rest of the world will wish to examine whether Europe has been weakened in the world by the UK’s departure from the European Union.

I do not believe that this is likely. Throughout its history, long before the EU existed, Britain has always come to the defence of liberty in Europe when some king, emperor or dictator tried to dominate Europe. Thus when Napoleon tried to conquer Europe Britain did not remain neutral but joined with those opposing the French Emperor and helped defeat him.

Where is Brexit Now?
Mary Dejevsky
Perhaps the most tumultuous week in British parliamentary politics of recent times has left the UK with no clear timetable for leaving the European Union – and barely two weeks to prevent what is widely considered the worst-case scenario: crashing out of the EU without an agreement.

Likewise when the German Kaiser invaded Belgium in 1914 and started the 1st World War  Britain did not stay neutral but helped defeat Germany. Most notably when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 Britain declared war on Nazi Germany right away. It is worth remembering that the United States did not declare war on Germany until attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour. Even worse, the Soviet Union under Stalin was an ally of Hitler and invaded Poland from the East.

Since President Trump came to power Teresa May has disagreed with the American President and agreed with Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders on the Iran nuclear deal, on Climate Change, on the need to maintain Free Trade and on Middle East policy as it affects Israel.

The UK is leaving the European Union. It is not leaving Europe. On geopolitical issues, including policy towards Russia and Ukraine, Europe will continue to speak with a single voice.

Brexit is happening because the UK cannot support deeper domestic and fiscal integration in Europe  which would lead to some kind of confederal system with a single currency, open borders and, possibly, a European Army. But on foreign policy and on the defence of Europe through NATO Britain will continue to work with its European colleagues as it has done in recent years and throughout modern history. Britain, as a nuclear weapon state and one of 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council is not going to be alone. It will remain part of Europe, if not of the European Union, and the rest of the world will continue to see a common European policy on many global issues"
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.