Tuesday 23 October 2018

Brexit: arguments of quality

I admit to being prejudiced, but it seems to me that the Brexiteers make only four contritions to the Brexit debate, which they do with increasing stridency and in the threatening manner commonly associated bullies.    They are:

1. We are leaving the EU at 11am  on Friday 29th March  next year.  That's it; end of story.

2.  We are implementing the will of the British people.

3. It is undemocratic to question or attempt to reverse the result of the referendum of June 2016.

4. Just admit it: you lost. Losers! 

In fact all  mean much the same thing.  Martin Kettle expresses it very well in a recent Guardian article

". . .Britain’s vote to leave the European Union [is claimed to be] not just decisive but the immutable will of an entire people that cannot be questioned – or compromised."

By contrast the arguments to revisit the decision seem to me to be perfectly reasonable

1.  Yes, it's tedious I know, becasue we've been through it all before, but the 2016 referendum result by no means expresses the will of the entire British people.  Only 37% of those entitled to do so  voted for leave, 34% voted to remain and 27% didn't vote at all.  Some of the people most affected  -  British citizens then aged 16 and 17,  and EU citizens from other countries but resident in the UK - weren't allowed to vote.  This hardly adds up to clarion call for action.

2.  Nor is it undemocratic to give us, or our Parliament, the chance to think again. Brexiteers conveniently forget that the most prominent among their number, Nigel Farage, argued that if the result were close, say 52% to 48%, then there should a  re-run.  That was said, of course when he expected Leave to lose.  And David Davis has said that a democracy is not a democracy if it does not have the chance to think again.

There are plenty of examples of provision oir second thoughts in the British constitution.  If the government loses a key vote in the Commons, which should cause it to resign, it can hold a second "vote of confidence" the following day to test if MPs really meant it.

Most recently, in 2015 we held a general election which produced  a Conservative government with a small majority. In spite of the Five Year Parliament Act, Mrs May felt that we should "think again" so called another election in 2017 to obtain a larger majority.  That turned out to be the wrong call from her point of view, but never the less illustrates the illogicality of her stubborn determination not to revisit the Brexit decision.

3.  We are now aware of irregularities in the Leave campaign: illegal over-spending, misinformation and, possible Russian interference..

4.  And we are now aware that many of the key promises made by the leave campaign just don't stack up. I'm sorry to bring this up yet again, as in an earlier post I promised my most persistent and effective interlocutor, sadly Anonymous, that he  could have the last word.

"Anonymous"  claimed that all the arguments against Brexit had been aired in the 2016  Referendum and dismissed by the electorate (ie 37% of it).  But much of what was speculation is now fact.

  • It is a fact that the value of the £sterling has depreciated by some 12%.  Those of us who went abroad on holiday have experienced the effects of that, and we are all now seeing the effect on prices in the shops.  
  • It is now a fact that that leaving negotiations are far from "the easiest thing in the world" but are proving very difficult.  
  • It is clear that the remaining 27 are not "toast in our hands" becasue "they need us more than we need them."   
  • We can not have "all he benefits frown outside" hat we have inside." 
  • The rest of the world shows no sign of rushing to give us generous trade deals far superior to those we already have as EU members.

Most importantly, the issue of the Irish border is not a minor matter which will be solved by clever technology, even if it's not yet invented..  The problem  is probably intractable.

It has become customary to blame the EU negotiators for this, arguing that they are using it as a stick to make life difficult for us.  It is worth remembering that the people of Ireland, both parts, are our kith and kin, and a hundred years ago all of them were our fellow citizens.  If the EU negotiators are insisting on a viable solution to the avoidance of a hard border, it is on behalf of the Irish, and,  giving the slippery attitude of our own government, the EU should be praised for making sure that the people of that  part of Ireland that remains an EU  member is properly protected.

So there is every reason for a rethink.  The quickest and cleanest way would be a free vote in parliament.  If our MPs haven't the guts for that, then a People's Vote.


  1. Wrist Digital Blood Pressure Monitor from Santamedical is one of the clinically proven technology products. Physicians in hospitals use them all over the world. The product is portable, simple-to-use, and compact in design. The monitor has a wrist cuff having advanced technology and it inflates automatically to the most appropriate levels and the measurement time is also reduced.

    1. Very useful I'm sure given the dire state of the nation's politics.

  2. Yeah I think all these points have been addressed previously,