What does respecting ‘the will of the people’ mean?
Those in favour of an extreme Brexit claim that they are respecting the will of the people. They are not.
The Brexit referendum in 2016 posed a simple question – should the UK leave the EU? The answer was yes we should – by a small majority. The referendum was explicitly advisory in nature; not binding on parliament.
Democracy did not end in June 2016. Since then we have had an election that the Prime Minister fought explicitly on seeking a mandate for her version of an extreme Brexit. The electorate rejected that request and deprived Mrs May on her majority. There is no mandate for the vision of Brexit that Mrs May outlined.
We live in a representative democracy and it is up to parliament to interpret and to decide. Those arguing for a hard Brexit and using the referendum result as its justification are hypocrites. They are hiding behind a referendum that did not specify the nature of the desired Brexit to indulge in their own ideological dislike of the European Union and Britain’s place in it.
They seem to care nothing for the economic and personal damage that might hit millions of Britons at home and abroad as a result. As we have said previously, there is nothing ‘democratic’ about this stance. It is, in fact, closer to the behaviour of those with authoritarian tendencies.
Thankfully, cooler heads within the cabinet seem to be prevailing – slowly and a transitional period seems to be on the cards.
What is surprising is that those outside the Conservative Party who oppose a hard Brexit are still not making the running. They are failing to hold the government to account and demanding that ‘the will of the people’ be respected as indicated by the combined results of the referendum and the recent election.
They continue to make purely technical and practical arguments. The pro-EU factions in the country seem utterly unable to engage the electorate effectively and generate the sort of anger and political backlash that is required.
The pro-EU groups failed in the referendum campaign. As our social media analysis showed, they failed after the referendum. And they seem to be failing again now. The sheer incompetence is depressing.