Anyone that’s paid the slightest amount of attention to the current political zeitgeist will have noticed that even now, over a year since the referendum result, the Brexit bumblings show no signs of abating. We have Theresa May racking up air miles in aid of delivering speeches to nobody of any relevance, Labour conspiring to present their Brexit stance with all the clarity of a grease stained mirror and then there’s Boris Johnson who, having skulked away in the shadows as the post referendum carnage unfolded around him, now emerges from his lair with increasing regularity – slyly injecting obviously fallacious smegma into proceedings like only Boris can.
Perhaps understandably, this has left many of us peons feeling somewhat trapped aboard an apparently rudderless ship. Given how “the will of the people” had achieved mantra like status it seemed somewhat perplexing that “the people” had been cut adrift from the process so, naturally, a petition was started for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal.
It’s fair to say a significant demographic of “the people” made their voices heard.
The proposal itself was fairly simple – when the final terms of the Brexit deal are at long last known to all a second referendum is to be held offering the electorate three options:
- To revoke Article 50, thereby keeping Britain in the EU
- To reject the UK-EU deal and leave the EU
- To accept the UK-EU deal and leave the EU
Perfectly clear, right? After seemingly decades of debate as to what was and wasn’t on the ballot paper on June 23rd 2016, it makes perfect sense to offer the British people a final say on the matter, only this time aided by a (hopefully) clear picture of the ramifications that will ultimately stem from their choice.
In any case, it more than exceeded the number of signatures required to trigger a Parliamentary debate.
We didn’t actually have to wait too long for a response from the government, with the Department for Exiting the European Union no less providing the statement. Was it well received?
See for yourself.
Hmmm, I get the sneaking suspicion that I’m not going to like this very much but alas, this whole Brexit malarkey has hardly been an episode of Happy Days and Boris Johnson is most certainly not the Fonz.
So let’s all take a bite into this disconcertingly shitty sandwich that’s been served up from Westminster kitchens, shall we?
Yeah…right off the bat we all know where this is fucking going. The 23rd of June seems to have taken on an almost mythical place in the timeline of history, being held aloft as an apparently infallible beacon of intent. As though it was the specific moment in time where the zeitgeist became locked in stasis, never to be shifted by the emergence of progressive thought or the transient nature of circumstance. Of course such bullshit can be sniffed out and exposed by pretty much anyone who has ever noticed that life isn’t exactly the same from one day to the next.
Despite this however, it hasn’t stopped the very same government charged with ensuring our nation’s prosperity churning it out as though it were an automated email response triggered by the term “Brexit” appearing in David Davis’ inbox.
Considering that (from an ideological standpoint) Brexit was heralded as “the people” finally being able to hold those atop the hierarchy accountable, you could be forgiven for feeling you’d been duped. After all, if a government can arbitrarily wave away the concerns of the electorate, you can safely assume that accountability isn’t on their mind.
Still, let’s see how they attempt to justify this stance.
Ah yes, now this is something that comes up a lot. “In the 2017 General Election more than 85% of people voted for parties committed to respecting that result” Unsettled by the notion that public mood has shifted, Leavers will reach for this statistic first. In the time since the Brexit vote poll results have varied wildly, not to mention having had their results rather dubiously extrapolated in order to serve certain narratives. So, with a recent general election having taken place, people have finally got some ‘official’ data to muse over – but is their interpretation here accurate?
A look back to 2015 throws out a few hints.
First things first you have to acknowledge that old data is being examined here, with the 2016 EU referendum results being contrasted with those of the 2015 General Election, but that’s not to say that there’s nothing worthwhile to pick at – the most crucial remnant being the Tory split. Despite being the party that promised the blasted referendum in the first place (for entirely cynical reasons of course), it didn’t deter the pro-EU demographic of Tory backers from sticking with the party and why would it? Party manifestos are crafted with an entire spectrum of issues in mind. Attempting to draw a tenuous equivalence between Labour/Tory voters in 2017 and the Leave cause is rather disingenuous to say the least. Whilst both parties essentially backed the proposal to leave the EU based upon the referendum result, the truth is that Brexit became somewhat of a side issue – lost amidst visions of prospective social justice and the Tory party conspiring to run perhaps the most laughably inept election campaign in living memory.
Further to this, Labour’s muddled and seemingly ever changing Brexit stance seemed to draw perhaps surprising support from many a Remainer. I mean sure, they’re still ultimately angling to follow through with the Leave vote, but their somewhat tangential position is far more comforting than the Tory’s apparent desire to fling the nation into the abyss as though it were a blind and confused lemming. It showed a willingness to be flexible at least and one could argue that such a gambit from Labour backing Remainers may have not been entirely misguided – not with the Labour brand of Brexit softening by the day.
As if that weren’t enough to demonstrate why the whole “85% voted for Brexit in 2017” argument is critically flawed, you’ve also got to consider the overwhelming support Labour received from younger demographic.
And we all know how our nation’s whippersnappers voted in the EU referendum…
Anyway, back to the bilge.
Now this might on the surface appear to be yet more yawnsome platitudes from a government with a finger rammed into each ear but don’t dismiss it so quickly. Otherwise you’d miss the author getting his foot trapped in his mouth so perfectly it’s almost as though the entire response was intended as a piece of irksome satire.
“Rather than second guess the British people’s decision to leave the European Union, the challenge is to now make a success of it”
Maybe I’m just a traitorous simpleton but…I’d have thought a second referendum on the final deal would have been a further safeguard against the British people being second guessed. You know, as opposed to blindly going along with a vote that was won on lies over a year ago?
Just a fucking thought.
To reduce the risk of giving myself a brain aneurysm I’ve opted to tackle the closing statements all in one go. Not that there’s really a lot to see here, unless endless waffle riddled with flimsy justifications is your sort of thing.
I won’t deny that when viewed in isolation certain points here seem fair enough. MP’s voting on the final deal for instance, that’s how Parliament is supposed to work after all. However when you scrape away the layers of cosmetics it becomes apparent that the entire framework of the government’s position is held together by the slim 52% majority for Leave last year. When you consider the myriad of falsehoods, misguided assumptions and outright lies that contaminated the EU referendum it’s not exactly a solid foundation in which to build from.
For all the nitpicks and bizarre ironies however, there is one question this rather risible government response has spawned in the back of my mind. That question is simply “why?”
The reasons as to why the dyed in the wool Brexiteers want to crash out of the EU vary, ranging from preposterous nationalism all the way to a conspiracy so deep you could write a most excellent book on the subject. Our own government’s rationale however, is much more unclear. Why are they ploughing on with a proposal that they know will be damaging? Why are they being so obtuse as to the concerns of the 16.1 million people who voted Remain? How can they claim with a straight face to be fighting for “the will of the people” yet deny those same people an infinitely more informed vote on the final terms?
Sadly, I don’t hold the answers. If I did I wouldn’t be a burnt out dope smoker hurtling towards 30 on a diet of Pringles and bargain basement breakfast cereals. However one thing is for certain. These are questions that all of us, whether we voted Leave or Remain, have to seriously ask ourselves.
Brexit is a decision that could last beyond a lifetime. Do you really want to have made such a decision without knowing all the facts?Follow @grahamlithgow