We’ve all seen the war movies so we all know how exactly how to behave when your bedraggled, weary party of troops is retreating from the implacable, merciless enemy and your injured leg can take you no further.
“Lads, it’s no good. I can’t go on,” you say, resisting all offers from your shattered comrades to carry you.
“No. I’ll only hold you up,” you insist. “Just leave me here with the Bren and a couple of grenades. You go on! I’ll take as many of the bastards with me as I can.”
The reason scenes like that resonate with us and often move us to tears of sadness mixed with admiration and pride is because most of us instinctively understand the nobility of self-sacrifice in extremis. Nobody wants to be the one who gets left behind. But when push comes to shove, some sort of atavistic impulse kicks in: that heroic willingness we have to take a hit for the team because ultimately, the survival of the herd, of our mates, of our people, of our nation must take priority over our own selfish interests.
This, for me, is what’s so despicable, shaming and unnatural about the events of the last few days in parliament.
People become MPs – or say they claim – because they are motivated by the idea of ‘public service.’
They’re not in it for the decent salary, generous allowances and hefty ring-fenced pensions, no siree. They became MPs to make a difference.
But put almost any of that crop of 650 MPs into the war movie situation and how do you think they’d behave? Pretty much to a man or woman they’d be saying to their comrades “Slow down a bit would you? I can’t keep up,” and “Ooh. Ooh. My leg hurts” and “Look, it’s no good you’re going to have to take turns to carry me.” Then – after the group inevitably gets overtaken by the enemy and gets tied to trees ready to be bayoneted – “I’ll tell you anything. Anything! Do to the others what you will but please, just let me live!”
All right, there are exceptions: the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is effectively what the Conservative party would be if it still had any conservative values left; Steve Baker, Jacob Rees-Mogg and the various other members of the European Research Group, which has persistently resisted the siren call of all those “expert” voices – squishy faux-Tory media commentators (you know who you are!); ‘pragmatic’ (aka spineless sell-out) Tories – urging them to accept Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement in order to have even a hope of getting a semblance of a watered down excuse for Brexit.
But a semblance of a watered down excuse for Brexit isn’t the same as Brexit. That’s the point.
That’s why the ERG and others voted it down. And why, if they’ve any sense, they’ll keep voting it down, no matter how many “improved” versions of her Withdrawal Agreement – aka glitter-rolled turds – that Theresa May produces to try to bully them into acquiescence.
MEP Dan Hannan – one of Brexit’s architects – is quite right to hold firm on this issue.
As he wrote last week in the Sunday Telegraph.
We keep being told that unreasonable Eurosceptics are their own worst enemies and that, if Brexit is now thwarted, it will somehow be their fault. But it is hard to think of a more unreasonable proposition than that all that matters is coming back with something that can technically be termed Brexit. Even after 30 months, Leavers are still being subtly patronised. It is assumed that the dim-witted oafs cannot possibly have weighed the costs and benefits before voting, and that all that the government needs to do is to show them something that has BREXIT written on it in bright, shiny letters.
In fact, Leave voters understand that some forms of Brexit are better than others. They understand, too, that some are so bad that they would be worse than either staying or leaving. The EU, of course, has understood this from the start. As Michel Barnier put it in 2016, “I’ll have done my job if, in the end, the exit terms are so bad that the British would rather stay in the EU”. Such an attitude on the part of Brussels was to be expected. The readiness of our negotiators to go along with it was not.
‘No self-respecting country would vote for this deal,’ the headline said.
Indeed, no self-respecting country would. The “deal” that Theresa May, her Remainer colleagues and the Remainer civil service, in cahoots with the European Union, is trying to impose on us is the kind of Carthaginian peace you’d accept only if you’d just been defeated very, very badly in a war and you had no fight (or weapons, or supplies, or bargaining chips of any kind) left with which to treat with the enemy.
That’s one of the things that is so disgustingly inexcusable about yesterday’s vote to take No Deal off the table. It was an act of both of voluntary suicide and national betrayal: surrendering all your advantages to your opponents, without even putting up a semblance of a fight.
The problem for our political class is that while they may have long since lost their stomach for a fight with the entity which would emasculate us, tax us and keep us permanently enslaved as its vassals, the majority people of Britain still have an awful lot of fight left in us.
No matter what devious measures that parliament attempts to adopt over the next days and weeks to thwart Brexit, the people of Britain remain resolute that Brexit must happen. And unlike those cowardly, craven MPs, they’re prepared to endure any amount of sacrifice to make it happen.