Whatever you may think of it, everyone – politicians most of all – must respect the Brexit vote.
The British people are not a bunch of children who need to be stood in the corner by know-it-all politicians because they voted “wrong”. They have voted, albeit by a slim margin, to no longer be part of the European Union.
As far as I am concerned, this is what the people want. It is an issue that had affected me very little as I don’t believe in identity politics. I had no position on it, until the population had finally made the true extent of their skepticism towards the EU clear.
Let’s try to understand their minds. This is not an economic question but a matter of identity and history. British people do not identify as Europeans. If there is to be a European political association, the Brits do not belong in it. Even those who voted “Remain” don’t belong in it. Merely swayed by economic fears, they voted “Remain” because the television told them so, or because people “like me” are supposedly voting this way.
People don’t regret this. For those who voted “Leave”, voting was quite literally their “finest hour” – their own moment to stand up to the Continent just like their ancestors in the Napoleonic Wars and the World Wars. The British, once again, discovered a stubbornness that has been unique to them in history. They won’t back down. Even if they have to tighten their belts and face economic costs for standing up to the great and powerful Continent, they won’t regret what they did.
Possibly egged on by billboards of the new Independence Day movie, many sincerely felt the wave of patriotic feeling invoked by Boris Johnson in his speech calling for a British “Independence Day”. Many who had never voted on any political issue were moved to vote.
Respect the Brexit vote and honor it even if you disagree with it
If we think anything good about the will of the people, about democracy, we should respect the Brexit vote.
I have noted with dismay the aggressive and irrational attitudes have already on display towards the larger half of the voting public for their stubborn and emotional vote out of the European Union. Among these is the view that the will of the people should just be trampled. Some believe we should vote again and again, as if the ballot box is a kind of broken vending machine you can hit until it works, until the population finally votes to remain in the EU.
Others say the Parliament should vote to rip up the referendum result, keep Britain in the EU, and never allow the people to vote on this issue again. Of all the nasty rhetoric in the campaigns over Britain’s membership of the EU, this idea is the most disgraceful. It is the most offensive suggestion of all.
The idea that the wishes of the British people should be overruled by an authoritarian Parliament, as advanced by David Lammy, is unfortunate. Such a move would include all the arrogance, privilege and disregard for people’s lives shown by those anti-Muslim racists often seen among UKIP supporters and other right-wingers, and adds even more on top. This advocates overruling democracy, people-power, and men and women of all faiths and races, whenever the (overwhelmingly white) state is convinced it knows best. If we don’t respect the Brexit vote, we have already gone that far.
At least I’m sure Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will personally respect the Brexit vote and stand by the wishes of the British people. If the majority of MPs have any sense, they’ll honor the wishes of the people and block any attempt to dismiss the results of the referendum.
Second Scottish independence referendum?
There has been talk of a second Scottish independence referendum. While I support this idea, and polls indicate it would succeed in getting Scotland its much-deserved independence, I am doubtful a second “Yes” campaign in Scotland will produce anything other than a second “No” vote. The same people who believed the rhetoric coming out of London and voted “No” the first time have not gone anywhere, nor will they have access to any different sources of information than they did the first time. Irrational though the defenders of the United Kingdom’s integrity as a state may be, have they not already won the hearts of the people?
In addition, while I believe referendums are good and a second one for Scotland should be held, I think there must be a delay. It should take place after exit referendums have taken place in at least some other EU countries. It will be unfortunate for Scotland to get ready to rejoin the EU, only to then learn all the other countries wish to leave.
No, it’s not Corbyn’s fault
Finally, opponents of Jeremy Corbyn within Labour need to cut him some slack. If his opponents were so much more capable of convincing the British people not to vote Brexit, why didn’t they do so? Aren’t they just as useless as him? Why didn’t these wise guys tell Corbyn the magic tweet he needed to convince people not to vote Brexit?
My belief is that the vote to leave the EU will later appear wise, once the true weakness of the European Union is exposed by the loss of such a significant country. Historians may ask, “might the EU have survived, had the UK chosen not to respect the Brexit vote?” Maybe, but clearly most British people don’t care for the EU’s survival or the well-being of Europe whatsoever. As explained earlier, Brits continue to regard Europe as alien and potentially hostile.
Many from the former “Remain” campaign issue sneering proclamations that Britain will suffer for leaving, like the people have upset an angry god. But the EU will receive all the “Brexit government”‘s blame for any ensuing economic woes, and we’ll see everyone devour that rhetoric eagerly. Considering the EU’s apparent determination to impose costs on the UK for leaving, future rhetoric blaming the EU for an ailing British economy could even have significant merit.