Dominic Grieve QC, the former Attorney General and MP for Beaconsfield - with whom the 'Britain in Europe' think tank has had the pleasure to collaborate on a number of occasions in recent years, in engaging with the Brexit and 'Human Rights Act' debates - is facing a deselection vote next month, after local Conservative activists collected sufficient signatures to trigger the vote and following a vote of no
confidence in Mr Grieve of 182 to 131.
Britain in Europe experts, Prof Julian Petley and Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, react:
We are living in very strange times indeed when an MP who has done his utmost to enable Parliament to exert its will against an over-mighty executive is accused of being a ‘traitor’ by members of his local constituency party and of doing ‘terrible damage to our national interest and to the future of our parliamentary system’ by the Sun.
But, of course, these are the same times which have seen judges castigated by the Mail as ‘enemies of the people’, and MPs who refuse to be cowed by such populist ranting pilloried as ‘saboteurs’.
As the Brexit process has worn on, it has become increasingly obvious that what the Brexit ultras actually mean when they vociferously defend ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ is in fact the sovereignty of the executive, and, ultimately, the sovereign power of the Prime Minister. In other words, government as ‘elective dictatorship’, in Lord Hailsham’s famous phrase.
This is a peculiarly British conception of parliamentary democracy, and it is one which has now shown itself to be utterly incapable of coping with a full-blown constitutional crisis.
But it’s more than our constitutional arrangements, such as they are, that are at risk here. The Euro-hating monster that has been so assiduously fed by certain Conservative politicians and newspapers has an insatiable appetite for our liberal democratic values.
It was not so long ago that it attacked our fundamental freedoms encapsulated in the European Convention on Human Rights, and it would be extremely surprising if in the wake of Brexit it doesn’t renew its assault.
Back then it was MPs like Dominic Grieve who, courageously and unselfishly, stood up to the Government and provided a solid defence against these threats.
In such times, we desperately need politicians such as Dominic Grieve who, in the crippling absence of a written constitution or a domestic culture of entrenching fundamental human rights, are doing everything in their power to find ways of helping MPs to defend parliament and our fundamental rights against the executive – something which is long overdue and for which he, and others like him, should be profoundly thanked.