At the time of writing this post, the petition to Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU has reached 5.84 million signatures and the Government has responded. Unsurprisingly, the Government response is the usual stream of nonsense and platitudes:
This Government will not revoke Article 50. We will honour the result of the 2016 referendum and work with Parliament to deliver a deal that ensures we leave the European Union.
In the opening sentence the Government reveals itself to be either delusional or dishonest by claiming that they will work with Parliament. This government has done everything it can to avoid working with Parliament, culminating with last week’s rant from Theresa May — the world’s worst populist — in which she tried to portray herself a tribune of the people in opposition to Parliament.
If she wasn’t so incompetent, she’d be dangerous.
It remains the Government’s firm policy not to revoke Article 50. We will honour the outcome of the 2016 referendum and work to deliver an exit which benefits everyone, whether they voted to Leave or to Remain.
An exit that benefits everyone? I would be interested to know what such an exit would look like because, so far, every form of Brexit that has been proposed leaves the UK worse off than before. And, with the approach the government has taken so far, Brexit is already making people worse off.
People who were already rich enough to have money to shift around offshore accounts (hello, Jacob Rees-Mogg) may well benefit from Brexit. For everyone who needs to earn an income, life is going to get a lot harder.
Revoking Article 50, and thereby remaining in the European Union, would undermine both our democracy and the trust that millions of voters have placed in Government.
What trust? Only 7% of voters think the government has handled Brexit well. Nearly two thirds of voters think the government’s deal is a bad one. Whatever trust that might have been placed in this government has been well and truly squandered by their incompetence, evasiveness and outright dishonesty.
As for undermining democracy, I’m tempted to suggest that the Honorable Members of Her Majesty’s Government may need to apply for remedial lessons in Understanding the Constitution.
Britain is a Parliamentary democracy and one in which referenda are not a normal part. Indeed, Clement Atlee described referendums as “alien to all our traditions” and Margaret Thatcher described them as “a device of dictators and demagogues”. Britain has no tradition of using referendums and no process for dealing with the results.
Parliamentary sovereignty means that power, ultimately, rests with Parliament. When a government’s attempts at implementing a policy are so abysmal that companies are having to stockpile food and medicine, it is not only reasonable for Parliament to call a halt to the disaster, but Parliament’s job.
The Government acknowledges the considerable number of people who have signed this petition. However, close to three quarters of the electorate took part in the 2016 referendum, trusting that the result would be respected.
52% of nearly three quarters of the electorate. That’s 39%.
In countries where referenda are used, this would not be a sufficient majority to implement a change such as this. Hell, in the UK, a majority like this isn’t even sufficient for a union to call a strike. So why the insistence that it’s enough to crash the economy?
This Government wrote to every household prior to the referendum, promising that the outcome of the referendum would be implemented. 17.4 million people then voted to leave the European Union, providing the biggest democratic mandate for any course of action ever directed at UK Government.
To paraphrase something said to me in the run-up to the referendum: “I’m thinking of voting leave just to see the back of that smug bastard [David Cameron].”
People voted leave for a whole range of reasons, not all of which had much — or anything — to do with Britain’s membership of the EU. Tellingly, the Government has made no attempt to understand or address the reasons that people voted the way they did. Instead, they have decided that the sizable minority that voted remain don’t matter and that all leave voters fully agree with the most extreme parts of the Conservative party. And that really is bad for democracy.
British people cast their votes once again in the 2017 General Election where over 80% of those who voted, voted for parties, including the Opposition, who committed in their manifestos to upholding the result of the referendum.
If you have a choice between two parties, both of which are promising to implement the same policy, then it’s not much of a choice. Labour’s failure to offer an alternative cannot be taken as proof of support for the only option on offer.
It’s also worth noting that manifesto commitments are not set in stone. They can’t be. No-one can know what other events will happen over the course of a Parliament or what new information may or may not emerge.
I think that most people understand that a manifesto can only ever be aspirational at best and that it is insane to stick to a commitment when all of the available evidence points to it being a disaster that will only get worse.
This Government stands by this commitment.
Revoking Article 50 would break the promises made by Government to the British people, disrespect the clear instruction from a democratic vote, and in turn, reduce confidence in our democracy. As the Prime Minister has said, failing to deliver Brexit would cause “potentially irreparable damage to public trust”, and it is imperative that people can trust their Government to respect their votes and deliver the best outcome for them.
The person doing most to damage public trust is Theresa May with her inept populism and the best outcome for people is for Brexit to be cancelled.
Parliament is due to debate this petition on 1st April. Now would be a good time to let your MP know what you think.