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  • Lee Jones

Caroline Lucas’s crackpot plan for an “emergency female cabinet”

As the deadline for Britain to leave the EU approaches we can expect ultra-Remainers in parliament to try every trick in the book to frustrate Brexit. The latest hare-brained scheme comes from Caroline Lucas MP, who proposes that power be seized from the constitutionally appointed government by a cabal of female MPs to stop Brexit.

Her article, published in The Guardian (where else?), is mostly noteworthy for the complete lack of any self-awareness, a total blindness to the contradictions of her own outlook.

It is hard to remember a moment in my lifetime when Britain faced a greater crisis. A coup led by a small group of rightwing libertarians is all but complete, as the Vote Leave team has been reassembled and taken control of 10 Downing Street. They are set upon implementing the most extreme no-deal version of Brexit – and, most terrifyingly, we are running out of time to stop them.

There has obviously been no “coup” in Britain. You might not like the government, but it has been constituted entirely in line with the British constitution. Ultra-Remainers love to whine about “abuse” and the debasement of public discourse, even wheeling out the police and judges to suppress people who call them “Nazis” and to warn everyone to watch their language. But apparently, it’s fine for an MP to brand the entirely legal installation of a government as a “coup”.

At times of national crises political leaders need to bring a country together. But that is not happening. The government is hellbent on creating more divisions, scapegoating our friends and neighbours, and ignoring the inequality and democratic deficit that fuelled the Brexit vote.

So, the new government is “ignoring… the democratic deficit” by… implementing the result of the largest democratic mandate ever generated in British history. Meanwhile, black is white, up is down, and Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

… Mending our broken democracy should underpin the response to both the Brexit and climate crises – with elected politicians setting aside our political differences in the national interest. When the 16-year-old Greta Thunberg visited Britain earlier this year I convened cross-party talks with her on how to end our climate emergency. The same degree of cooperation is needed to confront what’s happening in the name of Brexit.

85 percent of MPs elected in 2017 stood on manifestoes that committed them to respecting the EU referendum result and leaving the single market and customs union. But for Lucas, “mending democracy” means MPs must violate these promises to the electorate and band together to thwart the implementation of the majority verdict in 2016.

We need an “emergency cabinet” – not to fight a Brexit war but to work for reconciliation. And I believe this should be a cabinet of women.

Why women? Because I believe women have shown they can bring a different perspective to crises, are able to reach out to those they disagree with and cooperate to find solutions. It was two women, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, who began the Peace People movement during the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland; it was two women, Christiana Figueres and Ségolène Royal, who were key to the signing of the Paris climate agreement; intractable problems have found the beginning of resolution thanks to the leadership of women.

This is the sort of absurd essentialism that went out of fashion in the 1970s: the idea that men are from Mars and women are from Venus; women are more soft, diplomatic and compromising, while men are aggressive, warlike and stubborn. Lucas seems to have forgotten that we have just waved goodbye to a female prime minister who was widely criticised for her lack of flexibility. Our other previous female prime minister was not exactly known for turning, either.

So I have reached out to 10 women colleagues from across the political spectrum at Westminster and Holyrood – Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Independent Group for Change and independent – asking that we join together to stop the dangerous pursuit of a crash-out Brexit.

This is not an attempt to replace one coup with another. A small group of us should not be deciding on Britain’s future and that is not what lies behind my initiative. But we need to find a way forward that allows the British people to decide which course they want to take.

The new Boris Johnson government exists because: first, votes cast in the 2017 general election returned the Conservatives as the largest party and they were able to establish a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party; and, second, the Conservative Party leadership changed – all entirely constitutional. It is just about constitutionally (if not politically) possible for Lucas to assemble some kind of matriarchal Remainer junta as a new government following a no-confidence vote. But absolutely no one voted for that. It is pretty obvious which comes closest to being a coup.

To begin with that means denying Boris Johnson the reins of power through a no-confidence vote and establishing a national unity government… believe that a cross-party cabinet of women has the potential to do exactly that.

We then need to press the pause button in order to organise a confirmatory vote that offers people the choice of the status quo or pressing ahead with the latest government plan – whether that is a revised withdrawal agreement or, as seems more likely, a proposal to leave with no deal.

This is something of a shift from one of the doyennes of the “People’s Vote” campaign. Previously it has always been clear that they would never legislate to create a second referendum – sorry, “confirmatory vote” – that had “no deal” on the ballot. The whole idea being to compel people to vote for Remain, that would always have to be on the ballot, alongside Brexit in Name Only. Now they’re getting desperate, they’re willing to countenance it. But it’s still not actually democratic. If they accepted the result of the first referendum, they would only pursue a second to clarify the terms of our departure from the EU; Remain would not be on the ballot. But that would defeat the object.

It also means a commitment that, as politicians, we accept the outcome of that fair, transparent and informed vote, even if it delivers a result we do not agree with…

The most shameless sentence in the entire piece. Who could possibly trust such a promise, coming from people who have spent the last three years railing against the electorate and fighting with every sinew to overturn the result of the first referendum? People who, as recently as last month, said they would not support the result of a second referendum if it went against them?

• This article was sent as a letter by Caroline Lucas to Heidi Allen MP, Kirsty Blackman MP, Yvette Cooper MP, Justine Greening MP, Sylvia Hermon MP, Liz Saville Roberts MP, Anna Soubry MP, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Jo Swinson MP and Emily Thornberry MP

This rather tragic list speaks to the political implausibility of Lucas’s proposed feminist coup: as if failed has-beens from the ill-fated Independent Group/ Change UK/ Independent Group for Change are going to command the political authority to form a stop-Brexit government.

But perhaps the surest sign that parliamentary Remainers will not rally behind Lucas’s crackpot scheme (though many others along similar lines are sure to surface) was the prompt reaction from überwoke Clive Lewis MP, who hastened to imply that Lucas’s proposal was racist: “Where are the BAME women politicians?” With friends like those, who needs enemies?

#brexit #democracy

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