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The Battle for Britain

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's surprise decision to suspend Parliament and close the window for any debate over Brexit has understandably thrown the United Kingdom into political chaos. It has been nothing if not ironic to see the Brexiteers sell democracy down the river in the name of "the people."

BRUSSELS – The Brexit “Leave” campaign has been billed as an effort to “take back control” by restoring “sovereignty” to the United Kingdom’s Parliament. It is thus deeply ironic that one of the first moves of the Brexiteers upon coming to power has been to suspend Parliament and shut down debate over the UK’s impending withdrawal from the European Union on October 31.

Ignoring the will of Parliament, where a majority of MPs are opposed to a “no-deal” scenario, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now maneuvering to capture the votes of the Euroskeptic Brexit Party, so that he can deliver Brexit at all costs. To that end, he has sanctioned an all-out political war that threatens to undermine British parliamentary democracy for the long term.

Britain’s deepening political crisis is partly the result of Parliament’s failure to ratify the Brexit withdrawal agreement negotiated by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, and the European Union. Britain’s lack of a codified constitution, combined with a level of political polarization now rivaling that of the United States, makes the potential outcomes of the current situation hard to foresee. Anyone who tells you how this will end is dissembling, because no one can possibly know. Britain is facing a permanent state of uncertainty, and that in itself is destabilizing for any country.