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16 October 2018

BREXIT .. It's up to US

My earlier Blog was an attempt to lighten the mood. Now is the time to get a bit more serious.

Whether you voted to leave the EU or voted to remain, you didn’t vote for the unmitigated chaos that we are now wading through, and neither did you (no doubt with a few swivel-eyed exceptions) vote to be poorer, or to be marched off the cliff by a group of fanatics telling you that you’ll enjoy the drop and when you hit the water some of you will drown, but others will swim on until they rock up on the sun-drenched beaches of an island called Our Glorious Past.

The UK does not do referenda as a matter of course; we are a representative democracy in which we elect Members of Parliament to represent us to the best of their ability. But thanks to the efforts of Nigel Farage and others of his ilk, former Prime Minister Cameron tried to stop his Party from haemorrhaging votes to UKIP by promising us a referendum in the mistaken belief that the country would vote to remain. All he achieved was to cause an acrimonious division of roughly one half of the population against the other half. It is Cameron who is to blame for the mess in which we now find ourselves.

Then along came Theresa May as the new leader of the Conservatives, and thus Prime Minister. She demonstrated her soundness of judgement by calling a completely unnecessary election (she had a working majority, remember) in the belief she could increase her majority. The result was that she lost her working majority and had to ‘bribe’ the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland to prop her up in Parliament. As a result, the Northern Irish bigots have her over a barrel.

The problem we have with our Parliament now is that there are divisions all over the shop regarding how to proceed with Brexit, the worst of which are within the governing Party. Even within the Prime Minister’s Cabinet there are divisions between ‘Leavers’ and ‘Remainers’, and there are further divisions even between the ‘Leavers’; some want a good deal with the EU, others are happy with no deal. The Labour Opposition also has its fair share of Brexiteers; the Party is torn between supporting a deal brokered by the Prime Minister and opposing everything she comes forward with in the hope of triggering a General Election which they are fairly confident of winning. The two Parties which are consistent in their desire to remain in the EU are the Liberal Democrats (not enough of them to make a difference) and the Scottish Nationalists.

We can no longer rely upon Parliament to come to any meaningful decision on how to proceed, which brings me to the so-called People’s Vote being called for by increasing numbers of despairing people. They are shouted down by every Brexiteer in the land uttering the wearingly familiar “We’ve already had a people’s vote in 2016 and we voted to leave the EU. We don’t want a second referendum.” I despair: are these people so thick that they cannot realise that what is being asked for is not a second bite at the cherry, but a vote on the DEAL that is finally served up to us? Clearly Parliamentary arithmetic is so fluid that the only people who can accept or refuse the final deal are .. US!

WE were given a vote on the original proposition, and now, to have our say in how we implement it is not a denial of democracy, it is an EXTENSION of democracy. It is Democracy Plus. After all, from time to time we elect Parliament, and by extension, Government. Nobody says that a decision we take on that should not be re-visited five years later. Nothing is set in stone forever. Conditions change. New information becomes available. People ‘fall off’ the electoral register when they reach the end of life; others come on to the register when they reach voting age.

There is nothing wrong with the ‘People’s Vote’. Give us the real facts, and give us the vote.


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