Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion. Edmund Burke on representative democracy, 1774.1
It is worth saying that Torbay voted strongly to leave the EU, so I do not see an option of staying in. Kevin Foster on delegate democracy, 2019.2
Parliamentary speeches by careerist MPs match their party’s position and are accompanied by blind loyalty in subsequent votes. The Brexit referendum destroyed this approach. MPs have a new master: their voters. Referendums have had a catastrophic impact on parliamentary voting as MPs look first, not to their party, but to the stated position of their voters. Voting on the Brexit arrangements is predetermined by the electorate. The new reality is irresistible when referendums have unequivocally spoken.
Julia Lopez rightly said –
The direct democracy of the referendum was going to smash painfully into the representative democracy of our parliamentary system, risking a constitutional crisis that could reverberate across our nation.
MPs have become delegates. This was succinctly put by David Tredinnick I see myself as a delegate, not a representative, on this [Brexit]. Clearly Tredinnick as a delegate is a very different animal to Tredinnick the party loyalist. Lopez says referendums ‘smash painfully’ into representative democracy and the pain is felt most keenly in the Whips’ Office whose responsibility it is to get the government’s business through. Referendums obliterate party discipline which goes, as it were, down the drain.
Sir Nicholas Soames said, I feel very strongly that we must not reject this agreement and thus descend into constitutional and, I am afraid, administrative chaos. Soames is a senior parliamentarian trying to rescue a semblance of order from referendum induced chaos. A different approach came with the call for parliamentarians to work together. Emma Lewell-Buck There is another option: an extension to article 50, giving us the space, albeit a small timeframe, to do our politics differently, to restore our country’s faith in this place and to show people that we really are working together. [my emphasis] In essence she is a Burkean adherent flaying around in the new reality wrongly believing that all is needed is time, though she recognises party discipline has gone.
MPs as delegates follow instructions: the instructions of the electorate, not the Whips’ Office. Sir David Amess asserted, This so-called “deal” most certainly does not match up to the expectations of the millions who voted to leave the EU, and I cannot and will not support it. Amess is a loyalist Conservative MP, declaring his vote against his party. Conservative loyalist James Duddridge feared parliament had brought this on itself, Parliament chose to go down the referendum route again because we collectively abdicated responsibility for making the [Brexit] decision. The decision-making process was ‘out-sourced’ to the electorate. And the electorate has spoken to the horror of most MPs. They made a Faustian pact and must now live with it.
Nick Herbert spelt out the principal problem with a possible solution-
I say to hon. Members on both sides: “Prepare to climb down, because both of you cannot be right—one of you is not going to get what you want.” The right thing to do is to support a pragmatic exit, which is what the withdrawal agreement offers.
But this is exactly wrong. The Brexit referendum didn’t offer a pragmatic Leave option. The referendum was stark: leave or not. Voters don’t want MPs to climb down. James Duddridge hit the nail on the head when he said that MPs had ‘collectively abdicated responsibility’. Voters took control and passed the baton to MPs’ for implementation. The ‘No Deal’ option is the default position regardless of the hideous economic possibilities resulting.
David Cameron PM, 2010-16, called the Brexit referendum. He utterly failed to take cognisance of the volatility of the electorate. The consequences are awful. Parliament has been paralysed for two plus years and MPs are reduced to ciphers. They are delegates voting for something they believe to be damaging to the British economy. Yet they do it as they must. They are now delegates.
2 The debate on Brexit on the 11th January 2019 is the source for quotations used in this blog https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-01-11 There were 34 contributions in the debate on that day.