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Left-Wing Brexit Acceptance Award

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Finally, a prominent left-wing voice that accepts the result of the EU referendum and does not drip with contempt for democracy and the people’s choice to leave the EU

In his latest piece for the Independent, John Rentoul gives us that rarest of things from the political Left – a gracious and measured acceptance of Brexit.

Right off the bat, Rentoul declares:

There are two common views among people who wanted to stay in the EU that I think are mistaken. One is that David Cameron made a foolish and unforgivable mistake in promising the referendum. The other is that the result was obtained by a campaign of lies.

My contentions are that Cameron was forced to promise a referendum by the very democratic pressure that produced the vote to Leave, and that the referendum was about as fair as the rough and tumble of democracy usually is.

And Rentoul is quite right, I think, to state that with the rise of UKIP, never-ending power grabs from an increasingly tone-deaf EU and the systematic crises (euro, migration) facing the union, a referendum was ultimately coming, one way or another, regardless of whatever David Cameron did:

Cameron knew that if he didn’t promise a referendum, his party would become even harder to manage and it would lose votes to Ukip. As it turned out, he had a choice between cutting his throat and slitting his wrist: he could lose the election in 2015 and be thrown out of office or he could lose the referendum a year later and be thrown out of office. Being a politician – that is to say, human – he chose to maximise his chance of winning in 2015 and hoped that winning in 2016 would take care of itself.

Rentoul accurately notes that euroscepticism is hardly a new phenomenon in Britain. While we may not have been asked our opinion on the matter since the 1975 referendum, there has always been a significant chunk of the population opposed to our EU membership, even before mass immigration from eastern Europe or the euro crisis  were factors:

It may be objected that polls did not find that the EU was a priority for voters, and that support for leaving became significant only after the 2008 banking crisis. But there has been a majority in the British public for leaving or for reducing the EU’s powers since 1996, according to the British Election Study (page 6), and immigration has been named as one of the three most important issues facing Britain since 2001, according to Ipsos MORI.

But even more encouraging (from a Brexiteer’s perspective) is Rentoul’s refusal to fall back on lazy Remainer self-delusions that the Leave campaign had a monopoly on lies and misinformation, and that it was this uniquely one-sided dishonesty which somehow tricked a gullible population and swung the referendum:

The second complaint by many Remainers is that the people voted to Leave on the basis of disinformation. There is an implication that journalists failed in their duty to fact-check the post-truth politics – a criticism that must sound familiar in America.

But I don’t think the argument holds up. One of the surprising things about the referendum was that we didn’t hear that much about Eurosceptic press barons dominating the debate. This may be because they didn’t. The media landscape in Britain has been utterly transformed by the internet – as I know well, working for the first national newspaper to go online-only.

If you look at the readership of British newspapers, print and online, not only does The Independent have more readers than The Sun – not many people know that – but the total readerships of newspapers advocating Leave and Remain were about the same (of the 13 weekday newspapers, the Mail, Telegraph, Express, Star and Sun advocated Leave, with 95m monthly readers; the Guardian, Mirror, Independent, Standard, Times, Daily Recordand Scotsman advocated Remain, with 97m monthly readers; the Metro had no position). There are other new news sources online, Buzzfeed and other rivals of The Independent that I won’t mention, but overall I think the media was fairly evenly balanced.

As Rentoul points out, the Evil Murdoch Press doesn’t have quite the vice-like grip over the minds of the British people as many a Corbynite (or even a New Labour centrist) likes to believe. People consume their news from a variety of sources, and exist in social media bubbles of all kinds – pro-EU as much as eurosceptic.

More:

All the same, there were claims made in the campaign that were – I prefer not to call them lies – not absolutely evidence-based. The most prominent was the claim by the Leave campaign that the UK sends £350m a week to the EU. We don’t. It’s about half that. The Leave people justified it by saying it would be £350m if we didn’t have the rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in 1985. Their argument is that politicians will be tempted to negotiate the rebate away in future – Tony Blair, for example, allowed it to be diluted when new countries joined the EU in 2004.

Most journalists reported that it wasn’t true. The trouble is that saying, “It’s not £350m a week it’s £180m a week,” didn’t really help the Remainers. It drove them mad because the Leavers kept on using the £350m, and the Remainers kept saying it wasn’t true, drawing attention to it, and reminding voters that we send a sum of money too big to be understood to the EU every week.

Besides, the Remain campaign was putting out leaflets claiming that for every pound we put into the EU we got £10 back. I wouldn’t describe that as absolutely evidence-based either.

Many of us – this blog included – campaigned long and hard and angrily about Vote Leave’s disingenuous “£350 million for the NHS” pledge, pointing out that it was false and that it served as a greater propaganda tool for the Remain campaign with which to attack Brexiteers than as an argument for leaving the EU. But Rentoul is quite right – the true figure of c. £180 million is just as impactful, and quantitative scaremongering claims by the Remain campaign were no less manipulative and deceitful.

This blog has been busy handing out awards for grotesque Brexit catastrophisation with some relish, so it is only fair to acknowledge times when those from the political Left exceed the low expectations which have too often been set by politicians and the media class. Rentoul’s overall assessment is quite right – the EU referendum campaign was cacophonous and messy, but it was in no way tilted in favour of the underdog, insurgent Leave campaign, and would never have succeeded if it had not ignited already-latest anti-EU feelings among entire swathes of the British people.

So credit where credit is due: John Rentoul is one of vanishingly few prominent left-wing commentators to broadly accept the result of the EU referendum with no ifs, buts or asterisks. If only other left-wing politicians and commentators found it within themselves to do the same, their political movement might not now be facing unprecedented unpopularity and rejection by the British people.

 

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The Inhabitants Of UKIP Country Are Our Friends And Compatriots, Not Members Of A Racist Freak Show

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How is the fact that most Ukippers and Brexiteers are ordinary, decent people and not rabid skinhead racists such surprising news that it merits an article in The Spectator?

The metro-left have their fixed views of Brexiteers and Ukippers – basically ghastly, uncultured people with a blinkered, nationalistic worldview bordering on overt racism. Generally they hold these views not because of any personal experience meeting and talking with Brexit supporters, but rather because this caricature draws a neat contrast with the virtuous traits of openness, tolerance and progressivism that the Left love to claim as their own. This much is all well known.

But most of these views are formed at a great distance removed from the actual Brexiteers or Ukippers being judged. When Channel 4 filmmakers produce a dystopian documentary about what Britain would be like under a UKIP government led by Nigel Farage it is achingly obvious that nobody involved in the feature knows or has ever taken the time to get to know the type of people they so readily pastiche for the lazy consumption of their fellow metro-leftists.

But once in awhile someone from the metro-left bubble accidentally stumbles out of their hermetically sealed ideological environment, finding themselves deep in the heart of Brexit supporting suburbia, or – heaven forfend – UKIP country.

And when it turns out that the primitive, simple UKIP natives turn out to be perfectly decent people who just happen to hold different views on a few political issues, it is now apparently such shocking and revelatory news that it merits a whole article in The Spectator.

From standup comedian Ariane Sherine’s wide-eyed report on her accidental foray into UKIP land:

Most people would say UKIP lends itself to comedy better than Denis Healey’s eyebrows lent themselves to tweezers – but not the people of Walton-on-the-Naze, as they live in the party’s only constituency. I’m a stand-up comic, and I was booked to play the town’s first comedy night this month. I don’t know if the lovely promoter realised I was Asian when he booked me; for my part, I didn’t realise Douglas Carswell was Walton’s MP, and only discovered while Googling the town on the way to the gig, when it was too late to turn back.

When I arrived in Walton-on-the-Naze’s large ballroom with its cornicing and chandeliers (‘It looks like the inside of a prostitute’s wedding cake’ remarked one of the other comics), I was perturbed to see more skinheads than at your average EDL rally. Audiences in London are diverse both in terms of race and class; Walton’s audience was not. The first act quipped, ‘I know you’re all a bunch of racists’; whether he was joking or not wasn’t clear.

I was terrified before I went on. I generally sing a love song to Jeremy Corbyn; I thought ‘Oh no, they’re UKIP supporters – they’re going to hate it.’ I also sing about the time a beauty therapist waxed my bikini line into a Hitler moustache. Ridiculously, I thought ‘Maybe some of them are neo-Nazis and will object to this, too!’ Before our sets, the other new comic and I shared frightened glances. ‘Good luck,’ he said. ‘Thanks – I’ll need it,’ I replied. ‘Hopefully they’ll think I’ve just got a suntan and am not Asian at all?’. I was glad that my six foot six inch male friend had accompanied me to the gig.

Because we all know the seething hatred of Asian people in the heart of UKIP supporters and people who voted for Brexit? The condescension here is absolutely off the charts – first assuming that the people of Walton on the Naze are so stupid that Sherine’s clever little love ditty to Jeremy Corbyn might sail over their sloped foreheads, and second that the audience might start jumping around and flinging faeces when they realise that the person on stage is of Asian heritage.

Is there some little-reported history of Asian comics going missing after venturing too deep into small-town Essex that I am unaware of? Has Douglas Carswell quietly imported the defunct Jim Crow laws from the American South, entrenching racial segregation and discrimination in a small corner of eastern England?

This kind of foreboding and hysteria is only possible when one feels that the community in question are somehow fundamentally different to us, that they are “other”. But Ariane Sherine and her audience were both British, both English too, in fact. The idea of being afraid of one’s own countrymen because they happened to elect a mild-mannered MP like Douglas Carswell is absolutely absurd.

Sherine’s odyssey continues:

To my surprise and relief, they laughed, and went on to laugh throughout my set: at Corbyn, at the Hitler moustache, at my rude song about never having another boyfriend. They were friendly and good-natured. I tested the waters a bit, in case they hadn’t noticed my skin colour: ‘My little girl’s white and I’m brown, so I call her my secret Asian.’ They didn’t bat an eyelid. When I came off stage, the promoter’s wife said ‘They loved you! They came to life when you came on.’

In some ways, the crowd lived up to stereotypes: when the other comedian mentioned the referendum, he got heckled with ‘Brexit – out out out!’ And some of the crowd started to heckle the headline act when he maligned their hometown, with one man asking menacingly, ‘Are you taking the piss out of Walton-on-the-Naze?’ But whatever else the audience were, they weren’t racist. In fact, it occurred to me as we drove home, I was the prejudiced one, the one full of preconceived ideas about what other people were going to be like before getting to know them.

Slow hand clap.

Finally, the realisation dawns that perhaps it is the trendy lefty Londoner who holds prejudiced views – about her own countrymen, no less – rather than the much maligned white working class community which she was so alarmed to visit.

One is torn how to respond to this article. Obviously it is a very good thing that Ariane Sherine came to see the error of her ways in having prejudged Ukippers and people from Walton-on-the-Naze. One only wishes that Sherine’s epiphany could be shared with every other young, creative-industry-working, Guardian-reading, Corbyn-supporting hipster living in London and the other big cities – and that the good people living in pro-UKIP or pro-Brexit communities might eventually start to feel more understood and respected as a consequence.

But the fact that a comedian’s epiphany that people from a UKIP-voting town are not knuckle-dragging racists is such revelatory news that it merits a prominent article in The Spectator is depressing beyond belief. How is it possibly news that people in Walton-on-the-Naze didn’t racially abuse an Asian comedian and heckle her off the stage?

When so many of our fellow citizens hold other groups – the white working class, Ukippers, whoever – in such open disdain, even fearing them, then we are in trouble as a country. And when established media outlets like The Spectator feel the need to publish One Woman’s Voyage of Discovery Into UKIP Land with a straight face, just to make a point, then it is clear that our media has a long way to go in terms of understanding the country they cover.

This disconnect is why Britain voted for Brexit against the command and expectation of the country’s elite in the first place. Hasn’t the time come to give Britain’s silent, Brexit-supporting majority a little bit more respect?

 

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Top Image: Plymouth Herald

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Brexit Will Not Cure The Cancer Of Authoritarianism In Our Society

Terence Nathan - UKIP - Facebook

Death to Remainers!

Imagine for a second just how much safer our communities might be if local police forces spent half as much time patrolling the streets and engaged in community outreach as they do scouring Twitter for “offensive” speech.

Imagine just how much more responsive and well resourced our public services might be if local councils took complaints about potholes and vandalism nearly as seriously as they seek to persecute idiots for airing their half-baked opinions online.

Well, you can snap out of that reverie:

An investigation has been launched after a Ukip councillor made comments on Facebook suggesting those who voted Remain in the EU referendum should be killed.

The comments appeared on Terence Nathan’s Facebook page, councillor for Cray Valley West in Bromley, on Tuesday night.

The post, written in response to a news article referring to legal efforts against the Brexit vote, mentions Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which when triggered would initiate the UK’s departure from the EU.

Mr Nathan wrote: “Time to start killing these people till article 50 is invoked”, adding “perhaps remainers will get the message then.”

After another Facebook user raised concern over Mr Nathan’s rhetoric, he replied in a second comment: “Not threatening anyone, no need for threats just a bullet.”

Mr Nathan has since apologised for the comments saying: “My comments were only intended to be taken with a pinch of salt.”

The Independent article concludes ominously:

Police and council officials have said they are looking into the remarks.

A Bromley Council spokesman said: “The Council has launched an investigation into the alleged comments made but it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

Bromley Metropolitan Police Service said: “Police in Bromley are aware of comments apparently posted online by a Bromley Councillor. Enquiries into this matter are ongoing.”

Is it not enough for Mr. Nathan to have made a complete fool of himself for all the world to see, and torpedoed whatever hopes he may have entertained promotion within UKIP or higher political office? Is it not enough that society’s natural self-righting mechanisms saw the man challenged and upbraided by other people exercising their own free speech to oppose him?

Must we really now assign some bored police constable and dreary office bureaucrat to sift through his Facebook profile, looking for further nonexistent evidence of a dastardly plot for Mr. Nathan to slaughter his way through the electoral register? Do we really need to be that pinch-paced, authoritarian society?

What possible good does this serve?

“But Jo Cox!”, I already hear some insufferable idiot screeching in protest.

No. Mentally disturbed people who snap and kill innocent bystanders almost by definition do not casually announce their intention to do so on social media beforehand. And though I don’t have statistics to hand, I would bet the house that a single police officer can prevent more human harm in one year on the beat than they would scouring social media and arresting every single cretin who voices a generic, non-targeted violent opinion.

Of course Mr. Nathan was being stupid when he called for Remainers to be killed until the British government invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. But why can’t we leave it at that? Who actually benefits from bringing the fearsome correctional power of the state crashing down on somebody just for being an idiot? Isn’t being the kind of intellectually tepid individual who jokes about killing people online punishment enough?

Sadly not. Britain is fast becoming an authoritarian hellhole populated by an army of thin-skinned victims-in-waiting who leap at the chance to criminalise those who disagree with them, and ruled by an activist big government which is eager, proactive even, in taking their side.

How utterly depressing.

 

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Britain’s Virtue Signallers Prepare To Vote Remain In A Blaze Of Self-Publicity

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For many Remain supporters, it is not enough to vote to keep Britain in the EU. Some are driven to ostentatious acts of self-promotion, to make everyone else aware of just how progressive and tolerant they are

This blog has already discussed how voting Remain is de rigeur for Britain’s young, leftist virtue-signallers.

And here is a prime example: Guardian (of course) feature writer Laura Barton, consumed with that gnawing fear known to all young leftists that perhaps not enough people know just how progressive and tolerant they are, has concocted a lame little stunt to better promote herself within her like-minded social circle.

Barton proudly tells us:

I had been contemplating taking action for some while. Flyers? I wondered. A demonstration? For a time I thought I might post kippers through their letterbox, though my friends soon pointed out that this would be a waste of good fish.

I live, you see, not very far from the Ukip office in Thanet, an area of the country considered the party’s heartland, and where Nigel Farage stood but failed to get elected in the 2015 election. As a staunch supporter of the remain campaign, in the weeks leading up to the EU referendum the office’s proximity has proved a source of temptation.

Yesterday evening, a little lit up by the crescendo of the debate, I set to work: I procured two sheets of A3 paper, two red felt-tip pens, and set about colouring in a sign that read “IN”. And when it was done, I set my alarm for 6:30am and went to bed happy.

The Thanet Ukip offices lie behind an insalubrious looking shop-front, painted purple and yellow, with a “VOTE LEAVE” placard sitting prominently in the window and a metal grille protecting the glass. It has the air of a 1970s newsagent, where everything is faintly sticky and slightly out of date.

King Street was quiet at that hour – a couple of cars, a Loop bus, a truck rumbling at the lights as I sellotaped my sign to the grille. I crossed the street to photograph my handiwork and noticed a couple of women standing in a doorway, but they only looked at me quizzically and did not pass comment. I posted my photograph on social media, then headed home for breakfast.

Because what is the point of doing anything in this day and age if we do not immediately upload footage to social media in the hope that it goes viral?

As stunts go, this is hardly very impressive. Colouring in two sheets of paper with felt-tip pen and sellotaping them to the window of an opposing political party? That’s the kind of thing an eight year old child might win praise for. But then, perhaps paper and felt-tip pens were the only tools Laura Barton had to hand in the super progressive safe space where she shelters from all of those awful Ukippers in Thanet.

Barton then goes on to admit (my emphasis in bold):

As direct action goes, it was hardly as magnificent as this week’s raising of multiple Mexican flags on the border of Donald Trump’s golf course in Aberdeen, but I was pleased with it nonetheless. I felt I’d made my point firmly but politely: I’d coloured inside the lines, and I knew that the sign could easily be removed. There was no spray paint, no smashing up of things, no expletives.

Yet taking a visible stand seemed a vitally important thing to me – as I think it has to many of us in recent days. I’ve seen friends proudly tacking posters in their windows, attending marches, wearing stickers, and felt heartened by the swell of passion and involvement. And my friendship group and social media feed are naturally, satisfyingly full of remain rhetoric – with links to stirring op-eds and rants against Farage, Gove and Boris, with Cats Against Brexit, Wolfgang Tillmans’ posters, and pleas for love and compassion, for peace and harmony – and togetherness.

Love and compassion, peace and harmony all being proprietary virtues of remainers and EU supporters, of course. And naturally Laura Barton’s entire friendship circle is comprised of people with similarly childish, two-dimensional views, as she herself confesses. Heaven forfend that she might actually socially mix with one of the many UKIP voters in Thanet. Such people are to be pitied, grievously pitied, to be sure – nostalogic, economically left-behind losers that they are. But they are by no means to be befriended. One is judged by the company one keeps, after all.

To be sure, there are social media echo chambers on both sides of this debate. As a political blogger attuned to the debate I have witnessed them forming and expanding. But it is certainly the case that the greater impulse for conspicuous virtue-signalling is on the Remain side. An ardent Brexiteer will often fill their Twitter feed and Facebook wall with Vote Leave campaign messages and supportive news articles, just as an ardent Remainer would do the same with Britain Stronger in Europe materials. But the Remainer is much more likely to want to protest or act out in some other way in order to draw attention to themselves. They are not convinced with thinking that they are in the right – others must know about it, too.

We then get the tiniest glimmer of self-awareness:

But the politics of this place are so often at odds with my own world view. I see more leave posters than remain, I hear heated anti-Europe discussions as I walk through the town centre. And in some regards they have my sympathy. I’m aware of how much European legislation has affected the local fishing community, how that must breed frustration and exasperation; how it is easier to point to the damage done than look for the benefits EU membership has brought.

Still, in the last few days of this campaign, I felt it important to take some sort of action here – to raise a voice for the other side. It felt better than waiting, than doing nothing. Because this matters so colossally. Because this is a vote with repercussions that will last forever. Because the leave campaign has been so polluted by lies and misinformation, so run through with hate and with cowardice.

I always say that the most important things in life are to be kind and be brave. Sellotaping a homemade poster to the window of a Ukip office isn’t really either, but I hope it might at least encourage someone else to vote kindly and bravely.

We will leave aside Barton’s wailing about the behaviour of the official Leave campaign and utter silence about the Project Fear waged by her own Remain team.

Barton is at least aware that she lives in an area where many people do not share her views. She even states that she hears those views being loudly, forcefully and repeatedly expressed as she walks through town. But does it occur to her for even a minute that some of these people might be right – that their antipathy toward the European Union is not the result of having been brainwashed by Rupert Murdoch or Boris Johnson, but rather a considered position as to what is best for Britain? Of course not. These people suffer “frustration and exasperation”, but this is only because they do not realise how wonderful and beneficent the European Union really is. It’s okay though, Barton doesn’t blame them. How could they know any better? Most of them are working class. They don’t read the Guardian. They don’t really know what is going on, or what is best for them.

Doesn’t this just perfectly sum up the sneering, metro-left case for Remain? In truth, it is more a campaign against the thick, racist working classes and of virtuous self-promotion by the middle class clerisy than anything to do with the European Union. Most of those eagerly cheering for Britain to “stay in Europe” probably couldn’t tell you the first thing about how the EU operates, its history or its likely future trajectory. But they do know one crucial thing – vocally supporting the EU is the progressive, liberal, trendy thing to do.

Supporting the European Union sends all of the right signals – that one is cosmopolitan, internationalist, easy-going about immigration and multiculturalism. And those traits are an essential prerequisite for admittance into Laura Barton’s social circle, while rank ignorance or indifference about democracy do not matter in the slightest.

The good news: at the general election, the virtue-signallers were caught short. So cocooned were they in an ideological bubble of their own making that they failed to realise that the great mass of the country were not behind them. Now, Ed Miliband sits on the back benches and David Cameron is prime minister.

Fast-forward thirteen months and  here we are again. The Laura Bartons of this world are furiously sharing infographics and videos about how the European Union fosters peace, friendship, cooperation, puppies and kittens while never stopping to actually question or verify the premise of their argument. Meanwhile, the great mass of the country is ambivalent about the EU at best, and  will only grudgingly vote to Remain if David Cameron’s tawdry campaign of fear resonates strongly enough.

God willing, the British public will disappoint the virtue signallers tomorrow, just as they dashed their hopes of Prime Minister Ed Miliband at last year’s general election. And perhaps, if we are able to regain our democracy, Laura Barton (after a period of reflection) can take her felt tip pen and A3 paper and write a thank-you letter to all those nasty, working class Ukippers in Thanet whose wisdom and courage made it possible.

Besides, everybody knows that cats support Brexit and think that Remainers are stupid.

 

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Top Image: Guardian / Laura Barton

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The Petition To Cancel The EU Referendum Showcases The Remain Campaign’s Dim View Of Democracy

Cancel EU Referendum - Brexit - Remain - Parliament Petition

The divergence between the strong preference of most MPs and the sentiment of the British people is the main reason we are having this EU referendum, not a reason to cancel it

Last week, before the awful murder of Jo Cox MP changed the character and atmosphere of the campaign, it was widely agreed that the Remain campaign were on the back foot, behind in some of the polls and certainly lacking in anything like momentum.

And so perhaps it is unsurprising that late last week, a petition started by Remainers began to circulate on social media, calling for the EU referendum to be scrapped altogether.

The text reads:

According to the BBC (as at the 26th February 2016) 444 MPs of (almost) all parties have declared their support for Britain staying a member of the European Union on the basis of the reform package negotiated by the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Constituting more than 68% of the votes in the House of Commons, this represents a rare and overwhelming cross-party Parliamentary majority. If it is the settled will of such a large majority in the House of Commons, Parliament should now rise to the occasion and assert the very sovereignty Brexit campaigners claim it has lost. Parliament should ratify the agreement reached by the Government with the European Union and confirm Britain’s membership of the European Union on that basis.

What a cynical, opportunistic and fatuous thing to do – to seek to cancel an imminent referendum just because their own side happens to be in danger of losing.

The “444 MPs” line does not hold water, either. The whole purpose of this referendum is to settle what is in effect a dispute between past and present parliaments on the one hand, and the British people on the other. It is parliament which has knowingly and willingly signed away endless new competencies and powers to the EU, hollowing out the British state at the expense of the growing supranational European government in Brussels – a parliament often composed of many MPs who described themselves as “eurosceptic” while being complicit in the process.

This includes many Conservative MPs who were only ever selected by their parties or constituency associations as candidates because they professed strongly anti-EU sentiments to the Tory party base. Now, it has sadly been the case that many of these MPs were revealed to have lied during their selection processes, telling eurosceptic party members what they wanted to hear while themselves being ambivalent or even pro-European, as evidenced by their decision to support the Remain campaign. But it is clearly disingenuous to claim (as the petitioners do) that the majority of MPs favouring Remain represents the settled will of the people – the tightening polls, some showing a lead for Leave, prove this to be otherwise

It should also be pointed out that many of the “444 MPs” supporting Remain would not presently be sitting in Parliament had David Cameron not taken the sting out of UKIP’s tail by promising the referendum in the first place. Prior to that pledge, two former Tory MPs (Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless) had already defected to UKIP in a blaze of publicity, and more threatened to follow. If Cameron had not neutered part of UKIP’s appeal by promising the referendum, there could have been up to a dozen more defections prior to the general election, and then tens more UKIP MPs elected in May last year. If anything, promising the referendum helped to keep a pro-EU majority in the House of Commons. That same majority can not then also be used as grounds to take the referendum away.

But the root of the matter is the “parliamentary sovereignty” referenced in the petition text. I cannot speak for all Brexiteers, but I know I speak for many other liberal leavers when I say that I am not fighting with every fibre of my being to secure a Brexit vote because I want to re-establish the sovereignty of parliament and re-empower the very people who so blithely gave it away to Brussels in the first place. On the contrary, I want the British people to finally be sovereign in this country. And this is the wider debate which has been entirely missing throughout this sorry referendum campaign, but which we need to have.

What, after all, would be the point of striving to claw back sovereignty and decision-making power from Brussels only to give it back to the same people operating under the same laws who gave it away? This is why Brexit must just be part of a broader process of democratic renewal, making the people sovereign and beginning with the assumption – much as in the United States of America – that “Parliament shall make no law…” except in those areas where we the people explicitly grant permission.

This then opens up a whole load of other questions which gleeful Remainers would doubtless seize upon as more evidence that Brexit would cause problems and be “difficult”. Well, yes, it would. Unsurprisingly, great deeds require a commensurate effort in their accomplishment, and throw up lots of problems which need to be patiently solved along the way. Man did not walk on the moon the day after John F Kennedy idly thought out loud that it might be a good idea. The Apollo Programme took place in many stages after Kennedy set the initial goal, each one solving a particular problem or proving a new competency until all of the pieces were in place for Apollo 11 to finally touch down on the surface of the moon.

It is reasonable to expect that the process of extricating our country from forty years of gradual, incessant political integration by stealth should be a task of comparable difficulty. But it is not scientific and technical expertise which we must rebuild, but political, constitutional, democratic, trade and regulatory knowledge, much of which we have lazily outsourced to the EU.

And unfortunately the prize cannot be measured in pounds or euros, or any economic model pointed to by David Cameron’s hallowed “experts”. The ability of people to exercise meaningful control over their leaders, communities and futures cannot be boiled down to numbers in an Excel spreadsheet or one of the smug infographics shared by the Remain campaign. But this does not mean that democracy lacks value – rather, that it is priceless.

Those who would have us vote Remain on June 23rd look at British independence and see it as a series of problems and risks, all of which our country and our people are too small, too weak and too incompetent to overcome. They genuinely cannot understand why a country as “small” and supposedly inconsequential as Britain would want to leave a supranational political union in which we trade our democracy for the illusion of influence which comes from being a member of a big club.

Those advocating Brexit, on the other hand, see opportunity and feel a sense of optimism grounded in a healthy sense of what this country and its people are capable of accomplishing. They generally accept that there may be some short term political instability, but that there is just as much instability in our future if we remain shackled to an EU beset with so many intractable problems it is simply unwilling and unable to address. And they also value democracy sufficiently highly that endless, apocalyptic scaremongering with doomsday economic scenarios simply doesn’t resonate. The prime minister appears genuinely frustrated that we Brexiteers are not more responsive to his Project Fear, because he fails to appreciate that the core Remain argument does nothing to neutralise the reasons why many of us want out of the EU.

And sadly, this difference in mindset is not one which we can reconcile (or persuade any hardcore Remainers to the Brexit side) in the little time left of the campaign. But while we Brexiteers are happy to fight on to the end, making the case as best we can, some on the Remain side want to circumvent the process and take the choice away. Hence this ridiculous petition, arguing that because a majority of the very people you would expect to love the EU think that we should stay in it, there is no need to further consult the British people.

I would state again that the very existence of this petition shows a contempt for the will of the British people – but when the entire Remain campaign focuses myopically on short term economic indicators rather than the long term health of our democracy, it hardly needs saying.

 

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