Writing in anger is a lot like speaking in anger. It’s soon laden with regrets. With that in mind, I waited some days before writing about a couple of recent infuriating incidents.
Incident 1 – As I was handing out leaflets about a People’s Vote on the final Brexit Deal, one person angrily barked at me, ‘We already voted – it was democratic.’ To which I said, ‘So is this – that vote was nearly two years ago.’ As is often the case, this person stomped off in a huff before I could say anything more.
Incident 2 – When I mentioned to a friend, who had surprised us all by voting Leave, that I was supporting the People’s Vote campaign, he dismissed it, saying ‘it’s trying to overturn a democratic vote.’ I was offended by this suggestion that I wasn’t being democratic – so offended that I couldn’t answer to it, and I usually do answer to his comments about Brexit. While I tried to find my composure and words, the dinner table, full of chatter, quickly changed topic.
Thank the gods for blogs – here’s what I wanted to say.
What kind of democracy do we have in the UK? It’s certainly not winner-take-all. After a general election, the winning party isn’t the only party in parliament. As other parties win constituencies, they too are represented and have a right to debate and vote in parliament. Okay, we know that referendums aren’t quite the same thing. But PM Theresa May has interpreted the EU referendum result in a way that alienates about half of the country, giving the losers nothing and referring to us remainers, us ‘citizens of the world’ as ‘citizens of nowhere.’ If the PM and the Brexit elite in her cabinet continue down the road to a hard Brexit, those who didn’t want any Brexit or who expected a soft Brexit have not had their voices heard. I have a hard time seeing the democracy in this – unless of course, the people can vote on the final Brexit deal.
Democracy, no matter how you define it, also didn’t end on 23 June 2016. Things have happened since then. Trump has been elected. He’s a libertarian protectionist and cannot be counted on for a good trade deal. Nor can we count on the Commonwealth countries – India has already snuffed us on trade without a loosening of visa restrictions. As the Brexit wheels have started turning, trade deals aren’t the only items to start falling off the cart – the Irish border, the Customs Union and Euratom, to name a few. I don’t recall these points coming up during the referendum campaign and now they’re key issues. And let’s not forget that since the vote in June 2016, we’ve had a general election. Result: the pro-Brexit government lost its majority. Now we’re being led by a minority government being bolstered by a political party that most of us in the UK cannot even vote for – or more importantly, vote out of power. The only way to counter all of these changes is a people’s vote on the final deal.
End of rant.
Obviously my opposition to Brexit has generated a lot of anger in me. While anger is often an emotion that can impede reason and turn grown-ups into children, it can also be useful. I’m hoping that enough British voters, angry at being duped during the referendum campaign or angry at the minority government’s ineptitude at Brexit negotiations, can put their anger to good use and demand a final vote.