Hooray! Brexit delivers an unexpected benefit

This news is a few weeks old, but as I’m not a Daily Mail reader it had passed me by. And as I’m also not deluded, misinformed or ignorant about the EU, or so ideologically hidebound that I can’t separate reality from fiction, any real benefit deserves acknowledging.

Strangely enough this benefit comes to us courtesy of the Daily Mail. Its latest smearing of any person or group who dares to speak or do anything that it deems anti-Brexit as a ‘traitor’ (or at least this was the latest as of May 10th. There may have been others since then) centred on the Lords (or “traitors in ermine”). The “traitors’” crime on this occasion was to vote for amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill and thus “betray” all those who voted for Brexit (or in the Mail’s terminology, “the ‘little people’ they so despise”).

I shan’t bore anyone with any further quotations from the Mail, not least because I find the fact that a supposedly mainstream newspaper can resort to labelling people who are legitimately carrying out their function under the form of democracy we have in the UK as ‘traitors’ as both dangerous and repugnant. The important point is that having been a stalwart in protecting the House of Lords from any attempt at reform over decades (just two examples being its attacks on the first Blair government’s attempts to reform the Lords, and ditto Nick Clegg’s attempt in 2011), as Private Eye (No.1470, p.10) reports, it now believes that “If the Tories are wise, they will enter the next general election with a solemn pledge to abolish the Lords in its present form…”


An actual Brexit dividend for those of us who believe it’s long past the time when the UK should have adopted a second chamber that really is fit for purpose in a country that’s supposed to have a functioning representative democracy. And given that we know that so many politicians are scared of what those who control the Daily Mail think it’s not something that the Tory party should forget in a hurry either. Additionally, I hope Corbyn and co keep the Mail’s full throated and unambiguous endorsement of the need for refrom of the Lords to the fore if they are fortunate enough to form the next government. It’s unlikely the Mail will do anything else that might be useful to Corbyn and the Labour party, but on this topic at least we have it in black and white and straight from the Mail’s own mouth. And as the Mail is a paper that clearly doesn’t believe in compromise let’s hold them to it.


  1. Peter May -

    An interesting dilemma…
    I’d actually go for the status quo because I think there are so many more important things to do.
    And the unspoken aspect is that the Lords enables unelected experts to be overtly recruited into the government. That needs a resolution.

    1. Ivan Horrocks -

      Coincidentally, the ‘there are more important things to do’ argument was used by the Mail against Nick Clegg’s attempts at reform, Peter. And while it’s very easy for those of us who do not support Brexit to think this now to me the Lords are a fundamental feature of the corrupted and outdated form of representative democracy we put up with in the UK.

  2. Andy Crow -

    I’m inclined to agree with you, Peter that we might have more urgent (if not actually more important) issues to contend with at present. The Brexit consequences being the obvious example.

    I have yet to see an alternative system for selection of the second chamber members that ticks all the boxes. That a sitting government can stack the house is clearly (to my mind) unacceptable.

    1. Ivan Horrocks -

      I agree that the reform of the Lords presents something of a challenge, Andy. But as you note in your last sentence, I think one thing anyone whose actually interested in the function and health of a representative democracy – as opposed to simply gaining and retaining control and power – should be able to agree on is that a fundamental principle of any second chamber is that positions in it cannot be ‘bought’ in the many ways that we currently see with the Lords. That is, they are beyond the reach of a grace and favour system that to be frank is a stain on a modern day democracy.

  3. Andrew Dickie -

    Peter, that’s one of the points I address in the paper on constitutional reform that I referred to in my private e-mail to you. MUST get on with it

Comments are closed.