Be a Voice: What Brexit Shows About Democracy

By Campaign Agent Samuel Rhydderch

Michael Gove injected a much-needed breath of unity into the Conservative party on Wednesday, after his charged speech helped the government secure a majority of 19 in the confidence vote.

Theresa May, that cast-ironed Kevlar-proofed rock of a Prime Minister, has survived yet another attempt at her premiership. With the uncertainty of Brexit, one thing is for sure; if a nuclear blast hit Downing Street tomorrow, Theresa May would walk out, possibly on fire, announcing that she will continue to deliver the Brexit that the British public voted for, and that she was getting on with the job at hand.

Over the last two years, British politics has found itself in a dishonourable state of hypocrisy: the people who wagged their finger at David Cameron for resigning after the referendum are the same people who would have pushed for his resignation, had he not done so himself. Had the remain campaign won the Brexit referendum in 2016, they would be hailing democracy as a righteous and fair phenomenon- instead of insisting on a second referendum, hoping to get a different ‘democratic’ result.

You see, democracy is fantastic if you’re on the winning side, such as the ‘vote leave’ campaign. Life is good, and democracy is working great. When you’re on the losing campaign however, life isn’t so great, and democracy suddenly isn’t so good now. All political regimes have their respective drawbacks; authoritarianism does not allow for much personal freedom of expression but is good for forcing past legislation without much faff, and democracy isn’t very fair because you ignore the other half, but it avoids all the death you get with authoritarianism. Also, democracy isn’t that good for Brexit deals either.

I think it is time for the politicians, as well as the electorate, to accept that the shambolic nature of negotiations between the UK and the EU is not solely the Conservative’s fault. When you have two parties with opposing interests, such as the EU wanting the UK to remain, but the UK wanting to leave – then yes, negotiations are going to be laborious, slow, and perhaps not very successful. It’s okay to say: ‘We just can’t do it Mr Barnier, these are our terms and they must be met, thank you for your time’. We’re wasting precious time which could instead be used for no-deal Brexit contingency planning.

And no, there isn’t a chance that an alternative, Labour led, government could have delivered an alternative to May’s deal. We hear much outcry from the Labour front benches when it comes to heckling her deal as disastrous, but try asking them for alternatives and they don’t have quite as much to say. 

I also find it ever so slightly funny every time Jeremy Corbyn calls the Tory government ‘shambolic’ and ‘a mess’. It’s almost as though he doesn’t remember the time when two-thirds of his shadow cabinet dissolved in a single day; the time when his very own Labour party heckled ‘resign! resign!’ in the Commons chamber after his awful referendum campaign.

Theresa May will now head cross-party talks with the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and whoever else is interested in visiting 10 Downing Street for tea and coffee. Labour have said they will only take part in the discussions if the PM pledges to remove the possibility of a no-deal Brexit scenario, which is odd, because in order to take a no- deal Brexit off the table, the government must be able to actually pass a deal through the Commons without it being voted down by, yes, an uncooperative Labour government.

Ultimately, everyone wants different things and, well, we are a democracy, so we listen. The SNP want a second referendum, Labour would like a customs union, and one third of Tory backbenchers would like to see the UK physically float away from Europe. Meanwhile, Donald Tusk says everything is impossible, so we’re better off just staying in and calling the whole thing off. I think we’re beginning to realise that we’re just not going to be able to secure a deal which would please both the ‘remain’ and vote leave’ campaign, one side has to cave – and it is evident that neither will.

The EU has to act in the interest of the union- they cannot be seen to allow an EU member to walk away with a good deal. The UK has to accept the fact that a slim majority voted to leave the European Union, which, by the way, does involve leaving the single market and customs union – since that too is part of the union which we would supposedly no longer be a member of. As Michael Gove said in the Commons last night, we all need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Sources and Further Reading

Image: Theophilos Papadopoulos @flickr