LAST week the former Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, who represents a constituency in which 54 per cent voted Leave, and which has consistently voted for a Conservative MP since 1924, joined the Liberal Democrats in her crusade against Brexit. Challenged by Sky’s Sarah-Jane Mee on why she had not stood down and triggered a by-election, Wollaston made the old excuses that there ‘would be no voice at all in Totnes’, her Devon constituency, during the election period and that she would be in effect ‘increasing the government’s majority’ during a constitutional crisis.
These arguments come from a representative who in 2011 backed a Bill which proposed that any MP who ‘crosses the Floor or “defects” should trigger an automatic by-election so that their constituents can have the final say on their decision’.
In 2017 Wollaston’s electors chose a candidate who stood on (and publicly supported) a manifesto arguing that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. Now they have an MP proclaiming that she would rather see a Corbyn government than no deal.
The hypocrisy is hardly surprising from a woman who switched sides from Vote Leave to Stronger In over the course of the 2016 referendum debate, and who helped hijack a protest movement against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party to transform it into a Remain lobbying faction.
The will of the people as expressed through elections and referenda must be enacted. That is why Anna Soubry said in June 2016 that ‘we have to respect the result’. It is why Vince Cable said in September 2016 that a second referendum would be ‘disrespectful’. And it is why Alastair Campbell said in April of this year that a People’s Vote would throw this country further into political chaos.
Sarah Wollaston’s shameless disingenuity must be called out and put to the test in a by-election in Totnes. The same democratic justice should take place in the constituencies of all MPs who have in recent months left the political parties which facilitated their election. The People’s Vote campaign endlessly spout the line that the people should have the ‘final say’ – surely those with flip-flopping constituency MPs should be afforded the same right?
Politicians don’t seem to think so. In a YouGov poll released last week, the tensions between Parliament and the people were further exposed when it was revealed that 80 per cent of MPs believe that they are elected to act ‘according to their own judgement, even when this goes against the wishes of their constituents’, while 63 per cent of the general public believe the opposite: that MPs should act in accordance to ‘the wishes of their constituents, even when this goes against their own judgement’. Our representatives’ attachment to the outdated Burkean model of trusteeship has exposed their bare-faced arrogance time and time again. Take Chris Bryant, Labour MP for the Rhondda, who has said he would never vote for a motion that a majority of his constituents passionately believed in if he disagreed with it. Newly elected Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has said that even if she lost a second EU referendum she would continue to try to stop Brexit.
The God complex which has so poisoned the minds of our politicians has spread to broadcast journalists, who not only give hypocritical, anti-democratic politicians such as Sarah Wollaston a free pass, but actively engage in political bias and spin. Channel 4 newsreader Jon ‘F*ck the Tories’ Snow repeatedly bullied Theresa May when she declined to be interviewed by him, and Sky News has in recent weeks been tainted by numerous revealing faux pas, from lying about the 2017 Conservative manifesto to broadcasters announcing their hatred for the Tories.
Perhaps it is the fact that politicians and the mainstream media are actively working to agitate the will of the general public that has led EU leaders to be so confused about what the British want from Brexit negotiations. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s ‘favourite channel’ is, after all, the infamous Sky News.
In a democracy, the power lies unequivocally with the people. The politicians and the media are servants of the people, not the other way around. Disdain for the voting public is a crime against democracy which must be penalised, starting with a by-election in Totnes.