Brexit: Party Politics vs Mature Consensus

I’ve written previously about the irresponsibility of David Cameron and the mess he left behind for his successor, the unfortunate and rather obstinate Theresa May. My issue now is with how mature our democracy actually is, in terms of the outcomes it permits, they way issues are progressed by politicians and the media.

A referendum is a binary choice, yes or no – it that too simplistic for a decision of this magnitude? As it transpires there are “flavours” of remain as well as well as leave, and perhaps this was not envisaged at the time the referendum was posed. If a referendum is to represent the mandate of the people and an instruction to government, then shouldn’t it accurately reflect the true wishes of the people, rather than leave so much open to guesswork and interpretation? If Britain crashes out of Europe and some of the predictions of doom come true, higher prices, contracting economy, job losses, will the Government of the day really be able to look back and say, we acted according to the mandate you set for us? Is our disdain for Europe really that pronounced, that we are willing to cut off our collective nose to spite our face?

There is talk of a conspiracy to subvert the majority Leave vote by an establishment that supports Remain. I think in the event that Brexit is cancelled permanently, this has some credibility. If Brexit is delayed or if there is another referendum, then I don’t think such claims ring true. It’s amazing that some people are suggesting another referendum is anti-democratic, people will still all have the chance to vote again, the same as they did before. The only thing that has changed now, is that we have a little more information about the whole process, a clearer understanding of the consequences, the original hype of both campaigns laid bare, so that the truth remains and we can make a slightly more informed decision.

With all that said, isn’t the rejection of a second referendum itself anti-democratic? Couldn’t this perhaps reflect a conspiracy by the Brexit camp who wanted the country to make a decision about leaving the European Union based on half baked promises, untruths and an uncertain future? Who will it benefit to see a downturn in our economy? Only those who have the funds to invest before the economy pics up again, as it inevitably will. One must realise though, that Brexit is a power play, it is about forming the alliances of political and economic power that will shape this countries future for generations to come – those who can afford to now capitalise on the imminent vacuum left by the severing of relationships from Europe. Brexit will not benefit the average person in the short term.

This is also a concern, that after 2.5 years, our decision is only going to be slightly more informed. After 2.5 years, the government and political parties haven’t found a consensus and a way forward, Theresa May has ignored Parliament and even at times her own cabinet, and the issue has been used like a party political issue with both the Conservatives and Labour trying to points score. The media has only served perpetuate this madness by decrying why Labour are not further ahead in the polls given the Prime Ministers weak leadership. The real issue is, the narrow margin of the vote itself, and that the vote splits Conservative, Labour, and voters of all main parties so there is no clear majority for anything!

People don’t “win” a referendum, this is not like the outcome of a football match. Would a mature government disregard the wishes of 49% of the electorate to meet the requirements of 51%? I think compromise and consensus has to be sought. Even if a new referendum were to be run in and the result went in favour of those who want to Remain, the Leave camp’s views should not be sidelined. If it truly is considered that a new referendum will destroy democracy, you could take an aggregate of the two referendums to arrive at a result, yet I doubt that would prove conclusive.

What is really needed, and has been far to long in the waiting, is a mature debate formed around developing a consensus that as a country, not as divided camps of Leave and Remain, we can all get behind and agree with to help us move forward. The politicians have a duty not only to uphold the result of the referendum, but to act in our interests, and if they have no clear mandate for what they are doing, we need to be consulted again. The fact that this has dragged on for so long with no movement forward is an embarrassment to our democracy, and really shines a light on how superficial and partizan we are as a country.

Posted in Economics, News, Politics.

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