This is more a reflective piece on a personal quandary than anything else, but I hope it provides some food for thought.
Brexit has become, since its inception in 2016, the issue of British politics. It toppled a Prime Minister and even brought the Queen into politics. It is such a divisive issue, with calls for second referenda coming thick and fast. There is one aspect of the issue that has not been considered, at least that I have seen. This will be controversial, but I hope to provide maximal clarity for my position: Brexit needs to Happen.
Explanation, Part One: They Voted for It
This may seem like a copout, but the British people ultimately did vote for this. If the term Democracy is to have any meaning at all, its results must be carried out, no matter how terrible they may be. If the political class were to overrule the electorate and scuttle Brexit, what is to stop any other election result from being similarly overruled if the political class deemed it unpalatable? Politics, like the law, is built on precedent. Overruling an election result voted on by the people sets a very dangerous political precedent. A vote is a vote and a political class that overrules its people may well find itself on the receiving end of electoral anger. Democracy is, as Churchill said, the worst form of government there is except for all the others.
Explanation, Part Two: Rebutting ‘They Were Lied To’
One argument you hear against Brexit is that the leave campaign was a tissue of lies, particularly around the NHS. It is true, the campaign deceived the people. But this also sets a dangerous precedent.
Think about it: every contested election campaign is, to some extent or other, based on lies. Strawmanning your opponents, inflated policy promises and so on. If dishonesty in campaigning is grounds for invalidating an election result, no government would ever be elected. I am afraid I do not buy the notion that since the leave campaign lied to the people, the result of the referendum is somehow invalid. The argument against ‘they were lied to’ boils down to ‘all politicians lie in campaigning and the result still stands. why is Brexit any different?’
Detractors of this piece might see me as a Democratic extremist – and perhaps I am. However, I cannot get past the precedent that a second vote or simply scuttling Brexit sets. A Democracy where results only stand if the political class approves is a Democracy in name only.
To end, a disclaimer: like Smith in his Wealth of Nations, I am appalled by the argument that I have set out here. This is not what I personally want to happen, or even believe should happen, but principles trump any one man. If Britain claims to be a Democracy and not an oligarchy with meaningless voting, this result must be implemented.
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