Dominic Lawson in @sundaytimes (16 December 2018):
“the one thing that all the campaigners for the second referendum have in common is they want to reverse the outcome of the first one. They are interested only in that, not in the democratic process.”
That has infuriated me. Why does he not believe that many who want a ‘second referendum’ (as the first one was such a travesty of democracy, it would, in reality, be a first referendum), why doesn’t he believe that it’s the absence of democracy in this process which is giving rise to such anger? I can only assume that it’s a reflection of his not seeing democracy as an important issue.
His position infuriates me as does that of the Prime Minister. Day in, day out, we hear Theresa May claiming that her political raison d’etre is the pursuit of democracy and that Brexit reflects, and is a symbol of, that pursuit.
Brexit, as it now stands, is anything but an exercise in democracy. The Referendum campaign was strewn, littered, with lies and deceit and it now seems quite possible that it was illegally funded. The result of the Referendum was deeply flawed and only a so-called “People’s Vote” can put the thing back on democratic tracks.
Even if that is not accepted, even if we overlook that and say that ‘the People’ have democratically spoken, that there is a democratic consensus to leave the EU, it cannot be said that there is a consensus on the ‘how’, that there is a consensus on the manner of the exit, it cannot be said that there is a consensus on the ‘final deal’.
Some people who voted for Brexit, they envisaged what has come to be known as a ‘soft Brexit, some envisaged what has come to be known as a ‘hard Brexit’, many had no idea what Brexit would look like, many didn’t understand the issues – I’m not saying that none of the Brexiteers understood the issues but of course many didn’t – a lot of the issues have only come to light SINCE the Referendum was held. We now know that politicians and campaigners were lying. How on Earth can it be said that having a “People’s Vote” on the final deal, or on an exit without a deal, is a kick in the teeth of democracy?!
I have no doubt that if a “People’s Vote” were to be held (following a democratic, honest, legitimate campaign) and the Brexiteers were to win, it would be accepted by the majority of Remainers but that if the Remainers were to win, the Brexiteers, the majority of them, would be up in arms. If those who want out of the EU believe that they are still in the majority, that an honest campaign leading to a “People’s Vote” would not lead to a different result, why are they so against it? If they say that the result might be different but that that shouldn’t mean there should be another vote, that the result of the first vote should still stand, they are fighting AGAINST democracy. Brexit is too big an issue to be foisted on the nation without the support of ‘the People!
Theresa May has got to legitimise and democratise this process. Even if the EU does soften its position and agrees to some tinkering/amendments to the current deal such that it could get enough support in ‘The House’ to be approved, it does not have the backing of the majority of the nation. It doesn’t have the backing of the nation as the nation hasn’t had an opportunity to give its opinion.
If Brexit, in any of its guises, goes ahead, the absence of democracy will mean that there could well be civil unrest (and that is putting it lightly!). If Article 50 is rescinded following a “People’s Vote” and Brexiteers take to the streets, they would be doing so in the face of democracy and, in so doing, their actions, if they were to go beyond lawful protest, could not be defended in the name of legitimate/appropriate ‘Direct Action’.