Post by James Harris
I completely respect May's adherence to democracy in pursuing Brexit but
perhaps we'd get a better outcome if the people leading the country
believed in the Brexit they were pursuing.
May: Seems to be unsure whether she would back Brexit even now.
Hammond: Overcautious. Has achieved next to nothing as Chancellor.
Green: Democrat but still believes in Remain.
I can understand that some who voted Remain did so without great
enthusiasm but because they thought that, on balance, it was the better
option, hence they could easily switch. But surely it would be better
for those who are leading the country to be /enthusiastic/ for the
policies they are enacting. David Cameron resigned leaving the post for
a Brexit supporter. Yet May got the job and it seems she isn't.
By contrast, it's been good that the May incident has given greater
publicity to another cabinet minister (Hunt?) who said he voted Remain
but would now vote Leave because Osborne's dire predictions have not
come true and because of the appalling attitude of the EU toward the UK.
I am sure he speaks for many.
So is it time to change the top leadership team to Brexit supporters?
Yet each and every one of these remainers submitted themselves and were returned at the next election. They are representatives and not delegates.
Brexit is possibly the most important issue to come before Parliament since the last war. The cabinet is a forum where government policy is thrashed out and in which is why cabinet meetings are held in camera and minutes, though kept, are never published and shouldn't be.
However, at the end of this process, a particular government policy line emerges. Of course any minister may vote against the government line in the full house. However, he cannot and will not continue to serve in the cabinet if he does. This principle is known as cabinet unity. Political history is littered with the names of government ministers who have done the honourable thing and resigned because they find they can't support the government in the HoC. Robin Cook (Over Iraq) and Michael Hestletine (Over the Westland helicopters affair) immediately come to mind.
This government thorough the Tory Party did commit itself to honouring the electorate's expressed wish despite the party's preference for remain (a point so ofte missed by socialists her) To be fair the Labour party too fought a remain campaign bot committed itself to Brexit in the light of the referendum result. Thus far both parties have maintained their re-commitment. Where there are difference in policy, they are over detail rather than principle.
Further to that, if the cabinet is to continue to be a policy forum then you can't have any forum where members hole identical views on everything. Opponents do contribute to discussion and in so doing brief the others as to the other side of the argument.
Further even to that, the cabinet is not simply an instrument for Brexit. There are other issues of concern also. There are other matters to be resolved. The country still has to be governed.
On presumes that members who can't agree about one particular aspect of government policy are able to contribute in these areas. Provided they are in the appropriate lobby after the division bell and so cabinet unity is not compromised, then they can do just that.