Robert Tombs: “‘If Brexit is finished, then so is democracy”……


‘If Brexit is finished, then so is democracy’


Robert Tombs tells spiked that May’s deal is a historic betrayal.


Theresa May’s Brexit deal has angered Leavers and Remainers alike. Far from repatriating powers to Britain, it would hand even more power over to the EU. spiked caught up with Robert Tombs, professor of French history at St John’s College, Cambridge, and author of The English and their History, to discuss the implications of the deal for sovereignty, democracy and the future of British politics.

spiked: What is your response to May’s deal?


Robert Tombs: May’s deal seems to mean the most extraordinary set of constitutional innovations. It would give, for an indefinite period, power over a large part of our economy and legislation not only to a foreign power but also to an unelected committee. The EU will have the power to decide upon and implement a whole load of laws and regulations. We will be required to accept them and we will have to pay for the pleasure.

I cannot think of any historical precedent for this – certainly not in any democratic country. It is astonishing that any government could for a moment consider this acceptable.


The deal settles nothing – it is the avoidance of a reasonable settlement, which stores up all sorts of political problems for Mrs May’s successors. Perhaps it won’t last long. But if it does, it would mean a serious political disruption – we would have to reboot or remodel the whole political system around it. It could lead to the breakup of the two parties and the emergence of unknown new forces – although spiked readers might not object to that part!


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