I know many remain voters would have preferred Labour MPs to take to the trenches and oppose the triggering of article 50 at every twist and turn, including last night’s vote in the Commons, but it’s time to face facts.
A majority of voters in a majority of constituencies voted to leave the EU. I wish it wasn’t so. I put plenty of shoe leather into campaigning for a different result and still believe that we would be stronger, safer and better off inside the EU. But imagine for a moment what would happen the morning after if parliament blocked the result of a referendum in which 33.5 million people had voted.
Britain would be plunged into a constitutional crisis. There might even be riots. The prime minister would be forced to call a general election in which “remain or leave” would be the central question. The result would be a very different parliament, committed to the hardest of hard Brexits.
That doesn’t mean we should give the government a blank cheque in these negotiations. The absence of a big Conservative rebellion meant we lost Commons votes on amendments designed to bring about better parliamentary scrutiny. But the government does not have a majority in the House of Lords. A heavy weight of responsibility rests on the prime minister’s shoulders to deliver a deal that works in the interests of our whole country, not just a privileged few. A deal that leaves people worse off will deepen the crisis of trust in politics.
Across western democracies…