When I was at school and in my first year at university, almost the only British history we were taught was ‘Constitutional’. That was the sort with the broad liberal theme, about the growth of Parliament and its ascendency over the Executive branch of government: first the Monarchy, then Prime Ministers and Cabinets. It was taught in order to make us all grateful for our peculiarly British ‘freedom’.
If this kind of history is still taught in the future, I imagine that yesterday’s Commons vote, insisting on Parliamentary control of the ultimate ‘Brexit’ settlement, against the wishes of the Executive, will feature as one of its key events. The Daily Mail’s ‘traitors’ – the dozen Conservative rebels who voted with Labour against their Government – will be seen as heroes of Parliamentary democracy, along with De Montfort, Hampden and Pym. I’d like to think that eventually statues will be raised to them in the House of Commons lobby.
Brexiters say they want to repatriate British laws. This is one of the most important of those laws. So they should be pleased. But, as so often happens, the loudest ‘patriots’ are the least patriotic of all.