The sense of violation of democracy reverberates everywhere. But what should civil servants do when power is seized in front of their eyes? Do they carry on obeying orders to drive the country into a no-deal Brexit disaster when they see parliament barred from that nation-changing decision? I asked Bob Kerslake, former head of the civil service, where their duty lies in this unprecedented situation.
“We are reaching the point where the civil service must consider putting its stewardship of the country ahead of service to the government of the day,” he said. That is a devastating verdict.
Mark Sedwill, the current head, should, along with all other senior civil servants indeed consider the democratic validity of any instruction to facilitate a no-deal Brexit without parliamentary assent. A no-deal Brexit was never proposed in the referendum, three-quarters of the public are against it, along with the overwhelming majority of MPs. Johnson has not been elected, commands no majority, avoids interviews and now sends parliament away. Consider, in her favour, how many times Theresa May was willing to stand in parliament taking the pain on Brexit statements for hour after hour, out of respect for parliament.
Damn that Tony Blair, eh?