Just in

With apologies for going there

By now most Rusters will be aware both of my thesis that the UK Establishment (covering politicians and the supposed ‘great and good’) is comprised primarily of arrogant, self-interested, pompous bounders whose regard for democracy and indeed the vast bulk of the population is essentially tenuous and negligible and that I voted – for the first time in my life – Leave in the EU Referendum on the basis that this was the quickest route to ridding the country of the Scots.

It may therefore hardly surprise you that I have spent the past month looking in upon the goings-on in the House of Commons with strange fascination, most often by watching and listening to national news bulletins/output, not least the BBC’s weekly Question Time, hosted by David Dimbleby and its daily Politics Live programmes.

Yesterday’s fare included ITV’s Good Morning Britain and the BBC’s Politics Live on which representative arguments on all sides of the crisis surrounding Mrs May’s Brexit deal were aired with gusto and not a little passion.

At the risk of boring our readership let me try to summarise where we have reached.

Without reheating the issue of how we got to it – and whose fault that is – it would be fair to state that Mrs May’s deal satisfies nobody. Even she and her supporters offer little but the probable truth that this is the best deal that the UK is likely to obtain (not least because all 27 remaining EU countries have signed off on it).

Where once Mrs May and opposition parties were skirmishing as to whether “No deal is better than a bad deal” in a context where Remainers continue to insist that any deal resulting in leaving the UK would be catastrophic for the UK economy and quality of life, we now have a near-consensus among opinion-formers that Mrs May’s deal is a bad one.

We have even got to a place where even some arch-Brexiteers – if I heard what I think I did – are suggesting that remaining in the EU would be preferable to Mrs May’s deal.

Thus, at the risk of stating the obvious, I think we can agree that it is probably a dead duck, especially since on her recent/current humiliating tour of EU capitals Mrs May is not seeking to change her ‘agreed in principle’ Withdrawal Agreement with the EU but rather simply ‘reassurances’ on the Irish backstop (which by definition will satisfy few enough to make them change their minds on voting – for or against – it).

But to my point today.

We seem to have reach the position – leaving Mrs May’s deal taking on water in a tributary to the tide and river of main events – where the main goal of true Remainers is to promote the concept of a Second Referendum (or People’s Vote). One of the key reasons for this is the fact that, to all intents and purposes, the Tory and Labour parties remain ‘all over the place’ as to what they want (and can or cannot do).

As it was explained on both the programmes referred to above yesterday, the justifications for the Remainer’s call for a Second Referendum run as follows:-

The 2016 EU Referendum was ‘won’ by the Leave campaign because it lied to the electorate.

Furthermore, its key activists had no plan at all as to how exiting the EU would be achieved (save the vague and fanciful notion that “obtaining a free trade deal with the EU would be the simplest task of all-time because they need us more than we need them”) and totally failed to take any account the complicated Northern Ireland border issue.

Those who voted Leave in 2016 did so for facile, uneducated, possibly racist and/or ‘dog whistle’ political reasons – plus perhaps a misguided notion that they’d also be delivering a ‘yah-boo-sucks, sod-the-lot-of-you’ general protest after five and more decades’ worth of being treated like trivial election cannon fodder by the political classes.

The reality is that, at the time of the 2016 Referendum, nobody had any idea as to what Leave would entail. Now – by December 2018 – we have a fair idea of a true picture of the ramifications and therefore a ‘People’s Vote’ (as it were, an enlightened one) is entirely appropriate.

[I’m going to get my figures wrong here, but I trust Rusters will indulge me because I believe the thrust is accurate]. Since June 2016 not only have over 1 million UK citizens died, most of then oldies whose natural group inclinations are conservative and Leave-leaning, but about a similar number of those who in 2016 were below voting age have since become eligible to vote in the context where as a group 18-24 year olds would naturally vote Remain.

Plus, in any democracy, the electorate are entitled to change their mind from time to time and why shouldn’t they on this issue?

(I think I’ve just about covered the raft of Remainer points above).

Now to summarise briefly the ‘push back’ arguments of the Brexit camp.

The 2106 EU Referendum was consistently billed by its instigators (the then PM David Cameron, subsequently backed by both the Tory and Labour Parties in House of Commons votes to have it in the first place, then also in their manifesto commitments in the subsequent 2016 General Election) as being a one-off – once in a generation – binary event (put simply, please choose ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’).

Sorry to disabuse you, but both sides lied to the electorate (and by the way, politicians always do at elections etc. – so why are you getting exercised about it?).

In 2016 the Remain camp not only mounted a massive “Project Fear” publicity blitz, but its main protagonists also repeatedly told the nation that Leave would mean coming out of the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. So to suggest that Leavers didn’t realise that these would be the consequence of leaving is ridiculous.

Now to ‘where we are’ currently. ‘Leave means leave”, in other words – at its most basic – not being beholden to EU dictats, rules, policies, freedom of movement … and so on. And a future in which the UK makes its own decisions and its own trade deals. Which by definition means that departing under some sort of botch in which the EU continues to hold sway over what we can and cannot do for all time is out of the question – well, unless that be as some sort of horse-trading arm-wrestle we (the UK) decide to make offer a compromise in order to gain what we want.

I will only add a footnote comment here to finish.

Let’s just imagine how different things would have been if Remain – instead of Leave – had won the 2016 EU Referendum by a margin of 53% to 48%? [Well, apart, of course, from the fact that that the Leavers would have accepted the result and just got on with it].

Two years later, if Leavers had begun complaining that:-

The Remainers had lied to the electorate in 2016;

The thrust that by remaining in the EU the UK would have the ability to influence the Everest-sized pile of EU rules & regulations being issued annually had been proved poppycock (the UK of course only having 1 vote in 28);

Now we had a much better view of what remaining in the EU would entail (e.g. further EU moves towards federal integration, an EU army, still no satisfactory auditing of EU accounts, other examples … ad infinitum), isn’t it appropriate that we should have a Second Referendum (People’s Vote) – i.e. an informed and enlightened one – because, after all, the electorate has the right to change its mind, doesn’t it?

Since 2016, another [add your preferred figure here, I shall add 1 million just for the sake of it] people have turned 60 and therefore will have become more conservative and nostalgic/reactionary … so why should they be denied the right to express their shift in attitudes?

… do you think that the Remain camp would have given anything but condescending and off-hand short shrift to any of it?

Of course not.

They’d have begun by reciting that fact that those who set it up stressed at the time that the 2016 Referendum would be a ‘once in a generation’ binary event.

It came up with the Remain result it did, so what are you complaining about? Get over it!

The truth is that – as was the case before the 2016 EU Referendum, has been ever since, and will remain forever into the future – the UK Establishment has and will continue to believe that it knows far better than the electorate and that, when it comes to the final analysis, ‘one man one vote’ Western-style democracy doesn’t work and therefore should be ignored.

About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts