It would not be hyperbolic to suggest that the current crisis is the biggest constitutional issue this country has faced since the abdication of King Edward VIII; perhaps even as far back as 1909, when the then-powerful House of Lords blocked the budget supported by the Commons.
In the space of the past week, Parliament has been subject to constitutional outrage after constitutional outrage; the attempted prorogation, the seizing of the order paper by former-Conservative rebels, the expulsion of said twenty-one MPs by their party, Philip Lee MP crossing the floor in the midst of Boris Johnson’s speech, Brexiteers in the House of Lords attempting to filibuster legislation – each and every one of these acts would be seen by themselves to be politically earth-shattering so to see them occur one after another is utterly seismic.
It is now clear that Parliament is failing, caught in a trap of its own making. In hindsight, it should have been obvious that there is no majority for any solution to the Brexit question; whether it be Brexit via customs union or Brexit via a common market, a second referendum with remain on the ballot paper, a second referendum without remain on the ballot paper or even simply revoking Article 50, Parliament has shown itself to be incapable of governing. With a government whose majority is currently somewhere around the negative 45 mark and an opposition whose stance on an early general election has seemingly changed at least twice on Wednesday alone, it is time to take the decision back to the people and call for a general election.
Except, as ever, there are numerous stumbling blocks to this occurring. A raft of MPs yesterday signaled that they would be opposed to any election occurring before October 31 including Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer, prominent Labour backbencher Jess Phillips, the sole Green MP Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. With the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 (arguably one of the major causes of this shambles) requiring two-thirds of all MPs to vote for an early general election, it appears we are stuck in this never-ending circle of torment at least for another two months with no focus on domestic legislation, no focus on solutions to the Brexit problem and no focus on how to take this country forward.
It certainly appears that Dominic Cummings’ mass purge of Conservative MPs earlier in the week has backfired somewhat. With an astounding 36 Independent MPs now sitting on the green benches, it suits the anti no-deal alliance to retain the numerical advantage over the Prime Minister – the now liberated Conservative rebels completely free of Downing Street’s grip.
I realise that in asking that the Independent Conservatives to vote for a general election, it is not far off asking them to vote for a termination to their time as an MP. Personally, I do not agree with the decision to strip them of the party whip in the manner that they did; but nevertheless I implore them to back an early general election so that we can attempt to climb out of the purgatory that we now call politics.
When leaving the Commons on Tuesday night, former Prime Minister Theresa May gave a wry smile as she was snapped by awaiting press hacks. I’m glad someone in this country is happy as for the rest of us sad, sorry bunch, there seems no end in sight to the catastrophic mess we find ourselves in.