This would be a government of national betrayal

If a post-Boris unelected government further delays Brexit, it will be a disaster for our democracy.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill

Topics Brexit Politics UK

Dame Margaret Beckett would ‘be happy’ to do it. Ken Clarke says he’s up for it because ‘it would be fun’. Harriet Harman isn’t ruling it out. Jeremy Corbyn says he’s keen to put himself forward. What are these people talking about? Taking over Britain, that’s what.

They’re openly, shamelessly talking about forcing out Boris Johnson and creating a ‘government of national unity’ whose job would be to delay Brexit – again – and then hold a second referendum or a General Election. That the political class is casually chatting about taking such a drastic, emergency, anti-democratic measure as setting up an unelected government to stop Brexit is the most worrying sign of the times yet.

Those quote marks around ‘government of national unity’ are essential, because of course it would be nothing of the sort. Notice that all the people putting themselves forward for this ‘fun’ job have something important in common: they are hardcore Remainers. Clarke, Harman, Beckett – all Remoaners, all opposed to a clean-break Brexit, and really to any kind of Brexit at all.

The only person who stands out is Jeremy Corbyn. He may recently have traded in his Eurosceptic soul for a few more months at the helm of the sinking Labour Party – what a terrible mistake! – but he at least has a few drops of Leaver blood left in his veins. And that, of course, is why arch Remainers, including the mistress of anti-democracy, Jo Swinson, don’t want him to lead their ‘government of national unity’. Because this won’t be a ‘government of national unity’. It will be a government of stitching up Brexit. It will be a government of national betrayal, a government devoted to ensuring that the demos does not get its way.

A government of national unity is always a bad idea, since the aim is primarily to suppress democratic sentiment in the name of pursuing some amorphous, ill-defined ‘national interest’. And you can be sure that the question of what is in the national interest will always be decided by them – people in power – rather than by us: ordinary voters.

But the use of the word unity in the case of the much-discussed, much hoped-for ‘government of national unity’ to stop Brexit is especially ridiculous. If such a government were to come into being – and it still looks unlikely, despite the best hopes of powerful Remainers – it would not be unifying in any sense whatsoever. It would be divisive, destructive and catastrophic.

This is a government that would be designed to thwart the will of the largest electoral bloc in the history of this country. It would favour the minority who voted Remain over the majority who voted Brexit. It would completely divide the country between those who are good and sensible and therefore must be allowed to get their way – Remainers – and those who were wrongheaded, stupid and probably a bit racist and who therefore must have their democratic wishes crushed: Brexit voters.

It would be devastating for democracy, and for the health of society more broadly. It would intensify division, and sow new ones, for generations. It is incredible that apparently intelligent people are even discussing it. Of course they should have a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson if they want to – that’s far preferable to running off to Supreme Court justices and asking them to decide what should happen in parliament. But then there must be a General Election as soon as humanly possible. Before they do anything else to Brexit. Let us have our say.

What strange times we live in. Boris is demonised for using words like sabotage and surrender to describe actual acts of sabotage against Brexit and a very clear instinct among the political class to surrender sovereignty to the EU. And yet the Remainer elite can swan around referring to what would be an utterly divisive and elitist government as an institution of ‘national unity’. Not content with controlling whether or not the people can have Brexit, now the Remainer elite wants to control language itself.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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R Rodd

2nd October 2019 at 11:42 pm

I don’t understand the British parliamentary system. Can a vote of no confidence throw out the existing government and replace it with a multi-party government without also triggering a new general election? Is that what is being talked about here?

A Game

3rd October 2019 at 9:42 am

Yes. A no confidence vote gives the opposition 2 weeks (part of the Fixed Term Act) to form a government. If they can’t/don’t… an election is triggered. If they do… they are now the government. Ugh.
They are playing footsies because as Collaborators, they don’t like each other much and have different agendas and goals. I also have a suspicion they are terrified of actually carrying the can of government and responsibility. Much easier being hysterical on the other side.

SNJ Morgan

30th September 2019 at 12:46 pm

I think we can let these traitors do their worst now. We’ll do our best come election time.

John Millson

30th September 2019 at 10:45 am

Areed. Though I would be deemed a ‘remoaner’ for wanting an orderly exit, so on the ‘other side’ of sp!ked, this ‘government’ couldn’t be one of ‘unity’, obviously. (Are leave voters who want an orderly exit also ‘remoaners’ aka ‘collaborators’? Guess so.)
If we reach a point where the Government invokes the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, to get round the Benn Act 2019, then we can only blame the government back benches for not passing the Withdrawal Agreement. But then that would have kept Theresa May in power, thwarting Johnson and probably costing seats in a subsequent election.
‘Evil’ is may be too strong but there is a diabolical thread in the Conservative Party.

Hana Jinks

30th September 2019 at 10:03 am

Beta No’Zeal.

You’re aware that Boris is a green-nazi, right? And you’re aware that the UN is the epicentre of green-naziism, right? How is it that you’re able to hold so many conflicting views at once? I guess l shouldn’t be surprised when it comes from a self-avowed free-speech apologist editing for a site with mods, but are you aware the climate-hoax and open borders are key planks in having us totalitarianized? How many times do these things need pointing out? Can’t you see the damage this is doing to Europe?

Jerry Owen

30th September 2019 at 9:07 am

Brendan thinks a government of national unity is ‘unlikely’ .. unfortunately for us leavers it appears that the more unlikely something is the more likely it is to happen.
Who’d have though just a few weeks ago that eleven unelected judges have given themselves the power to effectively govern the country ?

Philip Humphrey

30th September 2019 at 8:49 am

Of course the Remainer elite and leftists want to control the language. Read the appendix to 1984 on Newspeak and it describes their strategy perfectly.

A Scythian

30th September 2019 at 8:28 am

And I fully expect that many despite decrying the fact that Parliament has overturned the will of the people will do absolutely nothing to fight this. These days far too many British are sheep, too comfortable to live out to their retirement and too unwilling to sort out their own problems expecting someone else to rise and do it for them.

Hong Kong students have more courage in their little fingers than most British have had in their entire lives. You do not see them doing nothing do you? Waving placards is just waving placards. As a US President once said, those who sacrifice freedom for a little security deserve neither. Having a smug look with a told-you so message won’t get you your freedom. You have got to get off your backsides and actually do something.

David Hume

30th September 2019 at 9:11 am

While your point is valid, I would say that unlike the Hong Kong protesters, the idea of Brexit is lacking three key tenants that can help inspire courage:

1) There is an insufficient co-ordinated leadership structure;

2) There has been a lack of use of symbolic representation of the idea that sits behind Brexit (people need symbols and flags);

3) The central idea of Brexit, or it’s “case for change”, has never been properly articulated and agreed upon.

Fundamentally, it might be that there is a lack of a central “why” for Brexiteers to rally around and therefore it is difficult for them to find the courage to face the required hardships of the “how”.

I’d be interested to hear why you feel we lack the required courage and how we might go about discovering it?

Jerry Owen

30th September 2019 at 9:16 am

David Hume
I think the same goes for ‘remain’ .. I have no idea what the ‘remainers’ case is for ‘remain’, the best I can fathom out for their case to ‘remain’ is because they don’t want to ‘leave’ !

Winston Stanley

30th September 2019 at 12:47 am

A democratic polity has “national unity” only when the losers in a democratic vote accept that they lost and they allow the government to function and to implement the verdict of the demos. Once the verdict has been implemented and after a designated time, another round of votes is held. We voted to Leave the EU and that must be implemented. The Remoaners are doing the opposite, their “national unity” is not that of a democratic polity but a usurpation of the state by arrogant bad losers. As B indicates, such a “government” will lead to generation disunity and to the discredit of the Westminster parliamentary system. There is no harm to the polity that these Romoaner posers are not willing to do to stay in the EU.

Frank Trofinov

30th September 2019 at 12:33 am

The article says “there must be a General Election as soon as humanly possible. Before they do anything else to Brexit. Let us have our say.” Isn’t that what a govt of national unity would do? Make sure we have our say before doing anything else to Brexit? Labours idea of getting the best deal they can and then asking if that’s what we want seems sensible and democratic. The lib Dems say that if democratically elected they’d take that as a mandate to remain – also seems fair – if enough people have changed their minds about Brexit the lib Dems will get in (not sure if even they think that’s likely).

Jerry Owen

30th September 2019 at 8:50 am

F Trofinov
Your post is a rehash of the same old ‘people didn’t know what they were voting for’ nonsense, opinion polls don’t support your .. people have changed their minds wishful thinking . We have moved on form that .. three years ago. And your party of unity would be labour elected by …. precisely nobody, yes a government via the back door, how undemocratic is that ? Corbyn refuses to go to the people yet would happily become PM without facing an election.
I don’t want another referendum as I want to leave the EU lock stock and barrel. I voted three years ago and am still patiently waiting for my democratic demand to be implemented.

Pedro Dias

30th September 2019 at 9:03 am

Would you accept a general election in change of a new referendum? Because no one is asking for a new general election except the Brexiteers!! How is that play?

Pedro Dias

30th September 2019 at 9:13 am

“am still patiently waiting for my democratic demand to be implemented”. Your democratic demand was implemented on the general election that followed the referendum. That was the opportunity Brexiteers had to, in fact, show their position. The problem is that there was already a tendency of shifting positions surrounding the Brexit issue, and if a new referendum was held today, Brexiteers would loose by some margin. That’s what Brexiteers don’t want. Democracy can’t be served with lies, and if there’s a mess now, Brexiteers need to look themselves to the mirror.

Jerry Owen

30th September 2019 at 1:29 pm

I seem to remember Corbyn shouting for a general election as indeed labour as a party were up until they realized they would lose it. So yes, of course I want a GE, I want Corbyn annihilated at the polls .. it will be fought on referendum lines no doubt. In case you weren’t aware we had a referendum three years ago .. you lost we have no need for another one to get the result changed for the losers benefit such as yourself.
We now expect to leave.. as promised and executed by signing article 50. Do you not understand that ?

Jerry Owen

30th September 2019 at 1:31 pm

Pedro Dias
Please don’t try to re write history .. the referendum was the vote that counted not a post referendum GE.

Pedro Dias

29th September 2019 at 11:47 pm

IAN DORANS Deals are for losers, and Brexiteers are the winners, remember? So, they don’t deal. I’ll be laughing when it comes to reinstate relations with the EU and other countries closely tight with. The good thing about Brexiteers though is that they are prepared to fight for the unity until the last consequences, therefore let’s see what happens on the day that there’s no food on the table of a Welsh, Irish or Scottish family…

Jerry Owen

30th September 2019 at 1:32 pm

P Dias
No food on the table, ha ha .. you bought both projects , fear 1 and fear 2.

Pedro Dias

30th September 2019 at 8:25 pm

If you had 2 inches of functional brain, you would understand “no food on the table” as a metaphor. Anyway, we will see…

Pedro Dias

29th September 2019 at 10:54 pm

I am ecstatically delighted and disproportionately bewildered with enormous gratification and appreciation for the dispensation of such a tendering and mesmerising information in which the prestidigitation of the concurrent and subsequent matter is thoroughly demonstrated through the nuances alluding to literal and metaphorical context. It is highly imperative to note that, such is the significance of the aforementioned, distortion in any shape or form will result in catastrophic ramifications to which will be the outcome of epic proportions. Thanks for your perusal.

A Game

29th September 2019 at 10:41 pm

If they do form their Party of National Collaboration (working together, right?), which means, like Tories, or Kippers… they’d be called Collaborators. You know, a union of like minded thinkers with a common goal. BON is premature to sneer at the idea of what to call themselves. At a pinch… the Nationalists.

I give them three weeks in government before half of them side with the Tories in a vote of no confidence.
If they formed government and got their precious extension and then called an election, I think their reputations might be salvaged. Anything other than that… Careful what you wish for.

I hope the Tories and the Brexit Party and Leave voters are cashed up and ready. I think Lady Hale might find herself getting busy. Can only slow down or reject so many cases. She has restored parliamentary sovereignty and has granted that it has more power to “move forward” than the executive.

Something I found… shocking, except in dystopic Britain. I don’t know if social media fired up, I hope they did, surely they did…
I can’t remember who it was… Some Lord F’wit, maybe… sneering at how Britain is more refined and its just not cricket for them to be out protesting like the Gilet Jaune or, and get this, the LA Riots.

So, we know its okay to sneer at white peasants (the French, privileged a$$holes)… but the LA Riots were just some… savage rioting that just wasn’t proper and Britons are better than that.
So stay docile. You’d hate to be compared to the giNgers. (Tim Minchin gag.)

Remainers. For their own good, they need to stop trying to win an argument they lost over three years ago.

Ian Dorans

29th September 2019 at 10:13 pm

The referendum was a vote to leave that is all. There was no option to leave without a trade deal or a leaving date. There is no justification to force through a no deal. Boris is a unelected PM with no mandate and no majority. A no deal is considered to be the most damaging and there are no guarantees. No one can guarantee its success they cannot guarantee no job losses they cannot guarantee peace to continue in Ireland. We should leave with a deal as that is what people voted for in the last general election

Dominic Straiton

29th September 2019 at 10:28 pm

What can you guarantee with remain. Shackled to a failing political structure hated by millions of the young all over the south . I employ them and I can tell you they hate the eu more than the most ardent Brexiteer. Come on put an argument for a eu army. Put an argument for a puppet “parliament” even worse than our ridiculous one that thinks its a regional assembly without an executive. There is no rational argument for remain except the usual bullshit fear tactics. And dont go on about peace because no mature democracy has ever gone to war with another. In short bollox to the eu.

Pedro Dias

29th September 2019 at 11:28 pm

“I employ them and I can tell you they hate the eu more than the most ardent Brexiteer”. Wow that’s strong… how much do you pay them?

David Hume

29th September 2019 at 8:59 pm

I wonder if the economists and lawyers who adopted the philosophies of Jeremy Bentham, John Rawls and Robert Nozick take any responsibility for any of this mess?

In fact, it’d be interesting to hear whether any Remain MPs, “supreme” court judges or Gina Miller et al are even aware that the ideas they are acting out aren’t even their own.

Jim Lawrie

29th September 2019 at 6:15 pm

Each opinion poll that is published further recedes the prospect of a General Election.

Like Brexit itself, such a Government will grant itself extension after extension, and will lay claim to authority derived from 52% support in the last election for Labour, LibDem, SNP and Green.

The SNP face the problem of demanding a referendum for Scotland while supporting the denial of any kind of poll for the rest of the UK. They are talking about 50% in a Scottish Parliament Election being enough for UDI. They are frightened of the vote for residents, because they have little support there. If we were to exit the EU, EU citizens would not be able to vote in the Indyref, thus strengthening the Yes camp. So Brexit suits the SNP.
In short, they all need different franchises for different elections.

It will get messier and messier. They are reading the script of time stopped and the constant switching of places and talking gibberish for The Mad Hatter at his tea party in Alice in Wonderland.

They were doing the electoral roll around here yesterday, and, I hear, over most of the country. They may have to do it several times more before there is an election.

a watson

29th September 2019 at 5:49 pm

Good, clear and straightforward comment. I agree wholeheartedly. Well said.

Christopher Tyson

29th September 2019 at 5:48 pm

Elsewhere I’ve listed some of my least favourite politically loaded terminology, we have people’s vote, government of national unity, I forgot from my list ‘people of colour’ that’s good, whereas ‘coloured people’ is extremely bad. The remainers did not make their case for remain at the time of the referendum and they still have not made it. In general we can surmise that they believe that it will be profoundly damaging to ‘our’ economy. Funny that when Greta Thunberg trashed the idea of economic growth ( I know she’s a kid but she did make Prospect magazines list of great thinker of our time), there was not a whiff of criticism from the liberal media. Perhaps they can explain to us how we can have economic prosperity without economic growth. It appears that leaving the EU would be the end of the world because of our economic demise, but for greens economic growth leads to the actual end of the world. So, genuine question, are green pro or anti EU? Are liberal pro or anti green, they certainly get a sympathetic press in the liberal media.

Jerry Owen

30th September 2019 at 4:27 pm

Good post !

Pernille Dahl Johnsen

29th September 2019 at 5:01 pm

Thank you for this article, and for reminding us all of their continuous Orwellian speech. It is truly frightening that they are willing to keep resorting to that. I don’t know what is more frightening: That they do this without realising, or that they do realise but don’t care about the lying.

Warren Alexander

29th September 2019 at 4:53 pm

I could never understand why treason is no longer punished with a long, long spell in the Tower.

Mike Ellwood

29th September 2019 at 9:23 pm

Apparently, at least theoretically, the death penalty was still available as a sentence for Treason until 1998.

Denise Peacock

29th September 2019 at 4:23 pm

I believe the time is coming when we must make our voices heard and demand an election, before the civilised democracy we have prized for so long morphs into something unrecognisable and sinister in which we will no longer have a say.

Dominic Straiton

29th September 2019 at 3:48 pm

I would have said “Whether we leave or not on the 31st the fact remains that we voted in the biggest democratic vote in British history to do so” However having watched Candace Owens talking to Douglas Murray and googling “white couples” its clear that isnt a reasonable argument.
This is probably the only time we will ever get anything resembling a free country back without an actual fight.

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