Brexit poker – a game where neither Parliament nor the British public get to see the cards

The government’s go-to response to just about all Brexit-related queries is getting rather old for some: “the government won’t disclose strategy”. In fact the government is playing its cards so close to its chest that it’s entirely possible that even it doesn’t know what kind of hand it has.

As regards negotiations, the EU, the UK public, not even Parliament knows what the government is doing, what it’s aiming for, or what it’s contingency(ies) is/are.

But the secrecy doesn’t stop there. If the government is right and can use the Royal Prerogative to invoke Article 50, Parliament is to be left out of the Brexit process altogether. That’s why the People’s Challenge is litigating to ensure proper Parliamentary scrutiny – and accountability.

True to form, the government wants the litigation itself to be cloaked in secrecy, subverting one of the hallmarks of the British legal system – open justice. It is insisting on every word of its legal defence on the use of Prerogative powers remaining confidential, prompting an urgent application by the People’s Challenge to seek the Court’s permission to publish it. Hopefully the Court will insist that this material at least sees the light of day.

One wonders whether the government is being so secretive in order to avoid showing its weakness, or should I say more weaknesses? Does it have any realistic plans? Are there any realistic contingencies being investigated? Are we headed straight for a brick wall, and if so, does the government know it? And if government is confident in its arguments that no Parliamentary scrutiny is needed, why is it hiding them? Can No 10 find its own back garden without a map, a torch and written instructions? No one knows.

Unless the government starts telling somebody something then it seems likely that the UK public will only get to know the truth about Brexit after the fact. I smell a particularly unflattering Parliamentary report coming up. After the Iraq war and the intervention in Libya it’s become abundantly clear that a PM has to be supervised while taking important measures and making important decisions.

From the chaos in the rest of government (not to  mention the rest of the UK political scene), it seems possible that even the cabinet is unsure about Theresa May’s intentions. I think the PM’s secrecy is very telling, she has told nobody what is going on, and that includes both Parliament and the UK public.

So with your money, security and future on the line I leave you with the final, haunting, question. What is Mrs May hiding behind that poker face, a full house or a busted flush?

Robert Pigney is one of the Interested Parties bringing the People’s Challenge to the Government’s attempt to leave the EU using Royal Prerogative powers

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