Theresa May shows contempt for democracy, after U-Turn on meaningful Brexit vote

In a surprise turn this week, Theresa May’s always trustworthy Government has appeared to break multiple promises and upset just about everybody. Tory ministers have come under major criticism as they announce a complete reversal on their pledge to allow parliament a ‘meaningful vote’ on the Brexit deal. Instead, Parliament will now have a take it or leave it decision to make on whatever is presented to them by the Government. Theresa May’s deal or no deal, no amendments allowed.  

A considerable amount of criticism has come from the Conservative’s own backbench, with ex-Chancellor and in recent times prominent Tory rebel, Ken Clarke, asserting that the Government ‘won’t get away with it’. Dominic Grieve, another ardent critic to the Brexit process and rampant opponent to a no deal scenario explained he was ‘astonished’ that the government were attempting to silence parliament in this way.

In the United Kingdom’s democratic system parliament holds ultimate legislative power. This is a core principle of British democracy that cannot be ignored. Government are accountable to parliament in our system, so for a Government to attempt to instruct parliament on the levels of accountability that it will submit itself to is not just unprecedented but it is borderline tyrannical. Yet this wouldn’t be the first time Theresa May’s Tory Government has disrespected the functions of UK parliament.

Think back to April when the UK launched air strikes on Syria in cooperation with the US and France. There was outrage across the commons and from the public that Theresa May had not consulted parliament in the decision to bomb Syria. Whilst parliament later agreed the Prime Minister had taken a fair decision, there was still a consensus that parliament should have been given a say on military decisions such as these in non-urgent circumstances.  

By going back on their promise to allow a ‘meaningful vote’ on the Brexit deal, with possible amendments or even the possibility of another referendum, this would be the second time the current Government have undermined parliaments role in key decisions that massively impact our country.

Whilst being criticised by pro-EU MP’s for breaking one promise, the PM is also under fire from the opposing side after her admission that the transition period for the UK leaving the EU could be extended up to another year, igniting fear for Brexiteers that the UK may never leave the EU. After both of these instances Tory MP Anna Soubry has commented that Theresa May is ‘reneging on everything’.

We are undoubtedly now at the point where faith in the Government to uphold integrity has evaporated. A Government that has further embedded the split within their own party, broken promises to the parliament they are accountable to and seem unable to produce a deal that those who voted for Brexit can get behind. Despite the division caused by the referendum result of 2016, the entirety of the British public can now unite behind one message, we are dissatisfied with Theresa May and her untrustworthy Government.  


Robbie Lennie

History and Politics student @ Northumbria University

Robbie Lennie has 12 posts and counting. See all posts by Robbie Lennie

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