We Already Had Our People’s Vote

On the morning of Friday 24th June 2016, the day after the people’s vote on whether we would stay in the EU, the shock of finding that Brexit had clinched the vote was for me eclipsed by only one thing – the outrage from Remainers in the immediate aftermath. I’m glad to say the overt ire has cooled in the intervening period and now a great many democratic Remainers have come to accept the result.

But it has now been over two years since the referendum and there is still a core of ‘hard Remainers’ in positions of influence who are far from accepting the result of the people’s vote we already had, and they are supported by the Remainers in the general public who still hope that the people’s vote of 2016 can be negated. This is clearly not about being given time to ‘get over it’, for these hard Remainers there is no intention of ‘getting over it’. They have devoted their energy into fighting the outcome of the referendum. To them the result cannot be allowed to stand. Now they apply every means possible from organised marches in the streets to special pleading to try to put Brexit on hold and re-run the vote. The democratic decision must be overturned, for them nothing less will do.

It is hard to reach such dogmatic determination with reason. The principle behind it is not democracy (that’s how they say we got into this mess) but rather ideology. They cannot bring themselves to accept anything other than their favoured result (usually for a lot of reasons which were given ad nauseum before the referendum but which were unconvincing to the majority at that time).

But we have seen such tactics following various referenda at other times in EU history.

When Denmark voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 they ran the vote a second time to get the pro-EU result; when Irish voters rejected the Nice treaty in 2001 they too ran the vote a second time to get the pro-EU result; when French and the Dutch voters rejected the EU Constitution in 2005 they didn’t even bother running the vote again, instead the democratic decision was ignored and the EU ploughed ahead anyway; when the Irish voters rejected the Lisbon treaty in 2008 they again ran the vote a second time to get the pro-EU result; and when the Greek voters rejected the Euro bailout in 2015 they were simply ignored too.

This is the anti-democratic, and anti-voter-sovereignty, behaviour of the EU – so we should not be surprised that hard Remainers take exactly the same anti-democratic attitude. The principle of democracy and sovereignty is subordinate to whether the result is the one they wanted.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I see many of the flaws in democracy. My answer to that is to limit the scope of the state and bring legislators closer to the people, so that even with a strong majority the state can only act within certain boundaries, while for the individual the proper scope to act for themselves is preserved. Not so the Remainers. They see the flaws in democracy but rather than returning power to the individuals, the people, from whence the power legitimately springs and allow them to be masters of their own lives, they seek instead to hand the power of the state to more distant and unaccountable people and institutions, who they see as more fit and more proper wielders of it. ‘Cleverer’ people than you. ‘More informed’ people than you. ‘Wiser’ people than you. ‘More qualified’ people. ‘More expert’ people. But not you, and not the people from whom the power comes. They are elitists, paternalistic some of them, but tyrannically determined to get their way.

And so they want another vote. They call it “the people’s vote”, without irony, while in the act of denying the outcome of the previous people’s vote. They make this demand not because they are great fans of the voice of the people (they blame the fact the people were asked at all for Brexit), they demand another vote because they hope for a different outcome.

The truth is that, unlike the decent Brexiteers who operated on the democratic precedent that they won and Brexit would happen, the Remainers never did stop campaigning for remain. What they failed to gain during the official campaign they hope to gain by undermining the people’s vote of 2016. So the campaign goes on long after the returning officers signed off the result.

But let us imagine for a moment that a second people’s vote is granted before the last one is implemented. There can be no basis in logic for that to be so, without then granting a third, a fourth and so on, as each losing side claims special pleading for having another go. The precedent of a vote being followed by implementing that vote would be cast aside in favour of a perpetual limbo, in which votes are continually cast and counted but never acted on. Is this seriously what Remainers want? No, of course it isn’t. It is transparent that the real intention is to make this a special case, a one off, to make an exception just this once. What they have in mind requires just enough ballot papers to get the result they want, and then the paper mill will have run dry.

Regardless of the most careful presentation, or wording, their sole aim is to prevent Brexit. None of their arguments are really motivated by the sentiment implied in ‘people’s vote’. They hate the fact you had a people’s vote in 2016. They are not fans of a ‘people’s vote’ in principle at all. Have no doubt that if the Remainer’s aim to prevent Brexit is achieved no establishment politician will ever be so ‘foolish’ as to offer another ‘people’s vote’ on anything of this nature ever again, and no die-hard remainer will be calling for one either, however much they claim to be fans of all this voting now. The Remainers know it, the patient Brexiteers know it, anything else is smooth words with a forked tongue.

There is no reason why it should be granted and Brexiteers need to stand their ground. The vote was taken, the question was clear, it was a binary choice, the decision was made, it is now time to get on with implementing it. There is no option for not achieving Brexit, a separation of the UK and the EU which returns all power back to UK institutions and removes all power of EU institutions from the UK. It’s time to do the British thing, the democratic thing, the right thing, and finally accept the decision of the people’s vote we already had and unite to make a success of Brexit that will turn the EU flag green.