Brexit: Boris Becomes Charlie Brown
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
For a workable Brexit analogy, think Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football. Try as he might, Charlie is never given a chance to kick the pigskin. Every time he comes close, Lucy snatches away the ball, leaving our protagonist to tumble on his backside. You’d think someone would come to Charlie’s defense and call Lucy out, but no one does.
The British government’s inability to advance on securing the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union was never more in evidence than today in the House of Commons. MPs toying with the fate of independence did Lucy proud. Their contempt for the Charlie Browns of Brexit Britain, came into focus as an ignoble spectacle.
Charlie Brown portrays the “everyman,” and he is every Briton — some 17.4 million — who voted in 2016 to exit the EU. Lucy represents those dissembling Remainer MPs who vehemently stand up for the rights of the people but at the moment of action, frustrate the democratic will. As for those who let this travesty continue, count the avatars.
They include the anti-Brexiteers in Brussels. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. The UK Supreme Court, who are silent when the rules of parliamentary justice are trampled upon, provided their collective EU super-state aims are met. The press is crawling with these avatars of the Remainer movement, manufacturing new objections at every juncture.
The Commons met on a rare Saturday sitting to consider the Conservative government’s Brexit deal. In its wisdom, it decided to postpone debating the bill and instead voted to “do an end run” against the Government before a “secretly” no-deal Boris did unto them. The House voted to push on with the enabling legislation before opening debate on the deal itself.
On Monday, the Government tried to bring the Brexit bill back for examination. Here Speaker Bercow, who appeals to tradition and Erskine May when it suits him, ruled against bringing before the Commons business it had already considered — good enough for MPs but a malleable principle with respect to a second referendum.
So on Tuesday the Government turned to its European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) bill. This was the bill’s second reading, usually a perfunctory matter and so it was, passing 329 to 299 — notably with the scattered support of Government opponents. To pass into law the bill and the Brexit deal itself must receive Royal Assent by the October 31 deadline.
Hence, the logical move was to fast-track the bill’s passage through Parliament. On this procedure Brexit’s naysayers were less accommodating, with the Government’s timetable defeated 322-308. In exasperation, Boris withdrew the bill, which in parliamentary terms is considered to be “in limbo.” We can hardly wait to see what high jinks break out next.
What are we to make of this hullabaloo? Like Lucy, Remainers in Parliament want to give every impression of follow through without fulfilling the promise. Accordingly they vote for the second reading but use the pretense of undue haste to deny the necessary contracted debate schedule to meet the Brexit deadline.
These delaying tactics only underscore the fact that no Brexit deal that truly ends Britain’s submission to EU fiat — and Boris’s bill was no perfect specimen of self-government — will ever pass muster. Only for the sake of appearances and appeasing the electorate, with an eye to an imminent general election, will the EU faction in Parliament go through the motions.
Whatever goodwill Boris & Co. built up following the discredited Brexit negotiating strategy of Prime Minister May has been squandered on a deal almost certainly doomed to failure. Far better for the Government to abandon efforts to reach an agreement, double-down on a “no deal” Brexit, and let the chips fall where they may.
Their dissembling has further alienated the Tories’ strongest ally in the cause of British independence, Nigel Farage, and his Brexit Party. Mr. Farage and his earnest cohorts, many of whom are battle-hardened veterans of EU chicanery, understand that a “Clean Break” Brexit is the only option apart from no Brexit at all.
Wasting time on a “good deal” is a Faustian bargain, in which Britain gets to claim success but where all the advantages lie with the “dispensing” authorities in Brussels. Boris Johnson will continue to be the Charlie Brown of Brexit politicking until he wises up and refuses to play by the shifting standards that the Lucy’s of Remainerdom devise.