Before the British people embarked on the labyrinthine process of democratically extricating themselves (and their country) from the European Union, they would’ve been wise to heed an oft-quoted warning from the President of the European Commission:
The democratic choice
The EU Referendum held in the United Kingdom on 23 June 2016 posed the straightforward question:
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
(In)famously, 17.4 million people (17,410,742 to be precise) or 51.9% voted to Leave the European Union, with Leave winning by a margin of 1.27 million votes, compared to Remain’s 48.1%, on a turnout of 72.2%.
How did we get here?
In the run up to the 2010 general election, the then Leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron had given a “cast iron” promise to hold a referendum, this time on the controversial Lisbon Treaty (which he then backtracked on after every other EU state ratified the treaty before the election).
At the European Parliament election of 2014, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) secured more votes and more seats than any other party – the first time any party other than the Conservatives or Labour had topped a national poll in over a hundred years.
This prompted MPs in the Houses of Parliament on 9 June 2015 to vote – by a margin of 544 to 53 – in favour of holding an ‘in/out’ referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU (with only the Scottish National Party voting against it).
It would be the first public vote on the UK’s relationship with the organisation now called the European Union since the 1975 United Kingdom European Communities membership referendum – a gap of more than four decades.
In the build-up to the vote, the government sent a 16-page booklet to 27 million homes in the UK explaining why it backed the Remain campaign, which ended with the following words:
“A once in a generation decision
The referendum on Thursday, 23rd June is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union. […]
This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.”
Prime Minister David Cameron rejected claims at the time that spending £9 million of taxpayer money on the leaflet was “undemocratic”:
“I make no apology for the fact that we are sending to every household in this country this leaflet, which sets out what the government’s view is and why we come to that view. […]
We’re not neutral in this.”
On 10 November 2015 Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a speech on the subject of Europe and the forthcoming vote, setting out the terms of the referendum:
“Whether we could be successful outside the European Union – that’s not the question.
The question is whether we would be more successful in than out?
Whether being in the European Union adds to our economic security or detracts from it?
Whether being in the European Union makes us safer or less safe?
That is a matter of judgment.
And ultimately it will be the judgment of the British people in the referendum that I promised and that I will deliver.
You will have to judge what is best for you and your family, for your children and grandchildren, for our country, for our future.
It will be your decision whether to remain in the EU on the basis of the reforms we secure, or whether we leave.
Not lobby groups’.
You, the British people, will decide.
At that moment, you will hold this country’s destiny in your hands.
This is a huge decision for our country, perhaps the biggest we will make in our lifetimes.
And it will be the final decision.
So to those who suggest that a decision in the referendum to leave would merely produce another stronger renegotiation and then a second referendum in which Britain would stay… I say think again.
The renegotiation is happening right now. And the referendum that follows will be a once in a generation choice.
An in or out referendum.
When the British people speak, their voice will be respected – not ignored.
If we vote to leave, then we will leave.
There will not be another renegotiation and another referendum.”
On 9 May 2016, 45 days before the referendum, David Cameron delivered (yet) another speech about the EU, this time focusing on the UK’s strength and security:
“In 45 days’ time, the British people will go to polling stations across our islands and cast their ballots in the way we have done in this country for generations.
They will, as usual, weigh up the arguments, reflect on them quietly, discuss them with friends and family, and then, calmly and without fuss, take their decision.
But this time, their decision will not be for a Parliament, or even two.
They will decide the destiny of our country, not for 5 years or for 10, but in all probability for decades, perhaps a lifetime.
This is a decision that is bigger than any individual politician or government.”
On 24 June 2016, the day the referendum result was announced, Cameron resigned. He was eventually succeeded as Prime Minister by Theresa May.
A year later, Prime Minister May sought a fresh mandate to lead the country by calling a new General Election (which was to be held on 8 June 2017), and in doing so, pledged to respect the result of the referendum. So too did Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader. Both the Liberal Democrat and Green parties disregarded the referendum result.
General Election 2017: what the parties said
“Following the historic referendum on 23rd June 2016, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. […]
The negotiations will undoubtedly be tough, and there will be give and take on both sides, but we continue to believe that no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK. […]
As we leave the European Union, we will no longer be members of the single market or customs union”
“Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first. […]
We will reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option and, if needs be, negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a ‘cliff-edge’ for the UK economy.”
“Liberal Democrats passionately believe that Britain is stronger as part of the European Union.
Our Plan For Europe
Fight to keep the UK inside the EU, including the single market and customs union – trade must continue without damaging customs controls at the border”
“The Green Party supported the Remain campaign and continue to believe that membership of the EU makes our future more hopeful and secure. […]
A referendum on the detail of whatever deal is negotiated for Britain’s departure from the EU, with the option to reject the deal and remain in the EU.”
The UKIP manifesto:
“We are the country’s insurance policy, the guard dogs of Brexit. We have fought for Brexit all our political lives and we want to ensure that the people get the kind of Brexit they voted for on 23rd June last year. […]
If the Prime Minister – who campaigned to Remain in the EU referendum – begins to backslide during the Brexit negotiations, she must know that UKIP will be there.
If you believe in Britain, if you believe in our values, and if you believe in real Brexit, then vote UKIP on 8th June.”
The General Election results were as follows:
[turnout was 68.8% or 32.2 million votes, 1.3 million less than the referendum]
Con: 317 seats
Lab: 262 seats
Lib Dem: 12 seats
Green: 1 seat
UKIP: 0 seats
While the Tories lost seats, perhaps the biggest losers were UKIP (while their MP count dropped from one seat to none, their voter base collapsed from 3.8 million in 2015 to a mere 590,000 only two years later). It is conceivable that voters now considered UK independence fait accompli – mission accomplished – and that they identified more with UKIP’s raison d’être than its “values”.
The other big losers were the Lib Dems and the Greens. If the public had in fact been suffering ‘voters remorse’ over the Leave result (as had been widely presumed by flocks of baffled journalists), then they didn’t express it by voting for openly pro-EU parties at their next opportunity. Quite the opposite: it is impossible to read the 2017 General Election result as anything other than an overwhelming endorsement of the 2016 referendum result.
The public’s verdict on EU membership was clear.
The EU Elections 2019
If the public hadn’t yet made their feelings clear enough with the referendum and general election results, the EU Elections of 26 May 2019 (two months after the UK was supposed to have left the EU) surely put the matter beyond doubt. The six week old Brexit Party stormed to victory, winning almost double the number of seats of any other party, with 31.6% of the vote. Far from the media prognostications that the British public had changed their minds, the Brexit Party won every single region of Britain, with the exception of heavily pro-Remain London and Scotland. It also became the biggest party from any country in the European Parliament — an institution it ironically does not want to be a part of.
The forever war: democracy vs …the other thing
The nations of Europe voting against the EU is much more of a regular occurrence than Brussels acolytes would ever admit: Denmark, Ireland, France, Greece and the Netherlands (and of course the UK) have all done so in recent years. The challenge has never been for Eurosceptic arguments to be widely popular; it has always been for anti-EU votes to actually count for anything:
Denmark voted against the Maastricht Treaty in a 1992 referendum (result overturned in the 1993 referendum re-run);
Ireland voted against the Nice Treaty in a 2001 referendum (result overtuned in the 2002 referendum re-run);
France voted against the EU Constitution in a 2005 referendum (the constitution was repackaged into what became the Treaty of Lisbon in 2008, and was passed by the French parliament without risking another public vote);
The Netherlands also voted against the EU Constitution in a 2005 referendum(the rebranded “Lisbon Treaty” was likewise then passed by the Dutch parliament without risking another public vote);
Ireland voted against the Lisbon Treaty in a 2008 referendum (result overturned in the 2009 referendum re-run);
Greece voted against the European Commission proposed ‘bailout’ in a 2015 referendum (result overturned by Greek government in 2015);
The Netherlands voted against the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement in a 2016 referendum (result overturned by the Dutch parliament in 2017).
In all likelihood, the UK’s 2016 EU membership referendum result will soon join this ignominious list.
The question of whether or not the UK should leave the European Union has been settled. Indeed, ‘Brexit’ has now taken on a new meaning: the survival of democracy itself.
Subverting democracy: a user manual
Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s piece in The Guardian “This is how democracies die” (itself an extract from their book of the same name) is ostensibly about Trump, but applies to the Brexit fallout just as well:
“Since the end of the Cold War, most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments themselves. Like Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, elected leaders have subverted democratic institutions in Georgia, Hungary, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Ukraine.
Democratic backsliding today begins at the ballot box. […] There are no tanks in the streets. Constitutions and other nominally democratic institutions remain in place. People still vote. Elected autocrats maintain a veneer of democracy while eviscerating its substance.”
They go on to argue:
“Institutions alone are not enough to rein in elected autocrats. Constitutions must be defended — by political parties and organized citizens but also by democratic norms. Without robust norms, constitutional checks and balances do not serve as the bulwarks of democracy we imagine them to be. Institutions become political weapons, wielded forcefully by those who control them against those who do not.
This is how elected autocrats subvert democracy — packing and “weaponizing” the courts and other neutral agencies, buying off the media and the private sector (or bullying them into silence) and rewriting the rules of politics to tilt the playing field against opponents. The tragic paradox of the electoral route to authoritarianism is that democracy’s assassins use the very institutions of democracy — gradually, subtly, and even legally — to kill it.“
Eroding, subverting and, finally, killing democracy — all the while appearing to be championing it — requires supreme Machiavellian deviousness, a magician’s slight of hand, relentless persistence and most importantly, boundless capacities for false-sincerity. Fortunately for Remainers, the fanatical pro-EU establishment which resides in power in Westminster and beyond are blessed with a natural abundance of these qualities.
Even so, such a campaign must be carefully orchestrated. The process of reversing a democratic decision in the 21st century can be distilled into ten key steps (wannabe despots should take note):
1. The power of doubt
Objective: Immediately — and relentlessly — repeat the mantra that voters have changed their minds.
The Leave result sent shockwaves across the globe, especially amongst world leaders accustomed to ‘Blairite democracy’ in which the only function of a public vote is to endorse — and give legitimacy to —decisions already taken by a government.
It didn’t take long for the establishment to rally. Just two days after the result was announced, the (now defunct) Twitter hashtag #Regrexit spawned dozens of hysterical headlines supposing (on the flimsiest of pretexts) that ‘voters remorse’ had gripped the Leave-supporting nation. My favourite is this 26 June 2016 doozy “Brexit, “Regrexit,” and the impact of political ignorance” from Ilya Somin in the The Washington Post [I note, with some amusement, that the Post has as its motto the words “Democracy Dies in Darkness”):
“Since last week’s Brexit vote, new evidence has emerged suggesting that the result many have been influenced by widespread political ignorance”
The Post persisted with its odd anti-democracy attack in its 27 June 2016 exposé “How online bots conned Brexit voters”, although author Caitlin Dewey did begrudgingly admit that the case perhaps wasn’t entirely proven:
Did anyone actually base her Brexit vote off the RTs of some Twitter hashtag drone? And did the surge of robotic signatures prompt more people to sign the referendum-redo petition? We don’t know the answers to either of those questions.
But with such a damning headline, surely there’s no need for trifling details such as evidence?
The BBC also seems to feel the need to keep questioning whether voters have changed their minds about the “once in a generation” referendum. (Oddly, I can’t find any evidence of the BBC checking the post-vote mood of any other referendum held anywhere else in the world, at any time — including previous votes held in Britain.) To conduct its polling ‘research’, the BBC tapped Sir John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University. Yes, the same John Curtice who incorrectly predicted a Remain win in 2016. One wonders how many times an ‘expert’ has to get the result of a binary vote wrong before they stop being paid by the nation’s ‘impartial’ broadcaster? At least a few more times, apparently:
“How young and old would vote on Brexit now”, Sir John Curtice, 10 August 2018:
“If there were to be a second referendum now, 52% would vote Remain and 48% Leave, an average of polls over the past three months suggests.
So, it is a stable picture, albeit one that reverses the position in 2016.”
“What British people think about Brexit now”, Sir John Curtice, 18 September 2018:
“Do Britons still wish to leave the EU?
Before last year’s general election, polls that asked people how they would vote if the referendum question was asked again often found a small majority in favour of Leave.
But since then, nearly every poll has found a small majority saying that they would vote Remain.”
And up he popped again in March of 2019 (this time cited in The Independent) — the man whose opinion increasingly seems to be of greater importance than those of 35 million voters:
The findings have led the centre’s senior research fellow Sir John Curtice to warn MPs discussing Brexit in Parliament: “There is seemingly room for debate about whether leaving the EU is still the ‘will’ of a majority of voters in the UK.
“Perhaps the key message for the politicians as they decide what to do is that those on all sides of the argument might be best advised to show a degree of humility when claiming to know what voters really want.”
If only there was some way of knowing what voters really want.
The seeds of doubt must be planted as quickly as possible. If enough articles are produced hinting that millions of people are changing their minds hours after a vote, support for the result will surely crumble into dust in a matter of months, and then undoubtedly be all but extinguished after a year or two. Right?
2. The mantra of doom
Objective: Immediately— and relentlessly — make predictions of an imminent apocalypse unless the vote is reversed*.
24th June 2016 (the day after the referendum), Tom Peck in the Independent wrote “Remember June 23 2016. It’s the day Britain stopped being a liberal country”.
At a ‘March for Europe’ Brexit protest on 2nd July 2016 Bob Geldof urged Remain campaigners to take to the streets to stop the UK’s exit from the EU.
“We need to individually organise ourselves. Organise those around us and do everything possible within our individual power to stop this country being totally destroyed”
In his foreward to Jon Burnett’s November 2016 paper “Racial violence and the Brexit state”, Ambalavaner Sivanandan, emeritus director of the London-based Institute of Race Relations charity makes the following carefully considered remark:
Whatever else Brexit means or does not mean, it certainly means racism.
On 31st August 2016 the then Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:
“[We will campaign to] keep those outward-looking British values of tolerance and mutual respect that we all believe in because there are going to be difficult, maybe dark, times ahead.
“We’ve been made a laughing stock abroad.”
The openly homophobic party leader also warned that the EU referendum result could be hijacked by “forces of racism, intolerance and hate”.
And so it went on. And on, and on.
By 2018, as the reality began to dawn on the political classes that ‘no-deal’ was the most likely outcome, and was favoured by the majority of Leave voters — it naturally became the new focus of the attack. And so the predictions of doom also course-corrected (very small sample below):
23rd November 2018, POLITICO: “How no-deal Brexit would hit UK economy”:
“Forecasts for the impact of a no-deal Brexit range from bad to very bad. Some estimates suggest a further slowdown in already disappointing growth, but many others suggest an outright recession.”
3rd February 2019, The New York Times: “Riots After a No-Deal Brexit? Save (and Evacuate) the Queen”
12th February 2019, BBC News: “Brexit: Mark Carney warns of no-deal ‘economic shock’”
18th February 2019, Pound Sterling Live: “Pound Sterling Now a “Do Not Touch” Currency as No Deal Brexit the Most Likely Scenario says BMO”
22nd February 2019, Reuters: “No-deal Brexit would take a chip off UK home values — Reuters poll”
26th February 2019, The Guardian: “Economy could be 9% weaker under no-deal Brexit, government says”
9th April 2019, Financial Times: “No-deal Brexit would push UK into recession, IMF warns”.
[See also “Two years on: six of the worst Brexit predictions”.]
*if possible, take a leaf out of Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney’s book and start forecasting calamities before the vote. Then, if the apocalypse doesn’t happen, simply act like you never said it and carry on (see below):
On 23rd May 2016, a month before the vote, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne (the man who appointed Carney, curiously enough) made the following prediction:
“Leaving the European Union would tip the UK into a year-long recession, with up to 820,000 jobs lost within two years […] a Leave vote would cause an “immediate and profound” economic shock, with growth between 3% and 6% lower.”
Not to mention European Council president Donald Tusk’s dire warning of 13th June 2016 that the UK leaving the EU it would lead to:
“the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilisation in its entirety”
On 17th June 2016 the IMF warned that Brexit would trigger an immediate recession in the UK.
overseas investors take fright; money flows out of the country; our credit rating is slashed; the interest on our borrowing goes up; unemployment rises; sterling tanks; prices in the shops go up. […]
Meanwhile Angela Merkel invites President Obama to an emergency summit to discuss the fallout — the UK is, of course, excluded from what soon emerges as the new “special relationship” between the US and Germany.
The Brexiteers say you will “regain control”. But it won’t feel like that. Instead, the economy lurches to recession
(Clegg would later be knighted and has now found his natural home as head of Facebook’s global affairs and communications team.)
Unfortunately, none of these wild (borderline-hysterical), widely-publicised predictions have come true.
Objective: Attempt to unpick the legitimacy of the vote.
In May 2018 the Electoral Commission ruled that the campaign group Leave.EU — separate from the official pro-Brexit group Vote Leave — broke electoral law and failed to report “at least” £77,000 it spent.
It also referred Leave.EU chief executive Liz Bilney to the police following its investigation into what it called “serious offences”. Leave.EU co-founder Arron Banks called it a “politically motivated attack”.
This led to widespread pronouncements by Remain supporters that the referendum result itself was “invalid” (a determination not made by the Electoral Commission), and that the Leave campaign had fraudulently ‘stolen’ the vote, for example:
It is worth noting that the Electoral Commission declined to investigate the official Remain campaign for similar alleged offences.
“Separately, the Commission has previously concluded that extracts from two books published since the referendum that describe daily telephone meetings of certain ‘remain’ campaigners and chaired by BSIE [Britain Stronger in Europe] did not meet the threshold for an investigation to be opened. Evidence indicates that the meetings were advisory and did not involve or result in decisions on referendum spending.”
Under electoral law, if a campaigning organisation co-ordinates closely with another campaign group then the spending associated with that campaigning must count towards their own spending limit.
However, the commission found the evidence suggesting this had taken place, which was provided by Patel ,”did not meet the threshold for an investigation to be opened.”
4. A good stereotype is worth a thousand arguments
Objective: Question the intelligence and prejudices of voters at every opportunity. Portray these voters as the stock stereotype you wish they were.
Since the referendum, the left-wing, myopically pro-Remain media have doggedly stuck to a narrative which says that Remainer voters are young, outward looking, tolerant, liberal and highly intelligent.
By contrast, at every opportunity Leave voters are portrayed as “Little Englanders” who yearn for the glory days of the past and never stop talking about the British Empire. They’re old, narrow-minded, nationalistic, racist, intolerant — and have low-IQ to boot.
Patrick Smyth, Europe Editor with The Irish Tmes:
“You don’t have to love the European Union to acknowledge its necessity in some form in the modern age. Yes, it has a democratic deficit. Yes, it appears to work more for business than for ordinary citizens. But Brexiteers’ Little Englander obsession with the idea itself, with its otherness, misses the point.”
Empire & Yearning For The Past
Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats:
“70 per cent of over-65s voted for Brexit, too many were driven by a nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white and the map was coloured imperial pink”
Bonnie Greer, playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster:
“How ironic that those of us who want to stay in the European Union are also the ones who uphold the integrity of the nations of the Union. And their right to dissent. To stand apart. To live in this century.
Not in some mythical past.”
Mihir Sharma, economist and columnist:
“Britain’s cultish devotion to its past so warps its present that you might be forgiven for thinking that Winston Churchill was still alive and editing The Spectator.
Perhaps the fact that London is still in a way an imperial center has allowed the fantasy of British greatness to persist. But the empire London now serves is a very different one from those of the past and lies beyond any one nation’s control: It is the empire of finance”
David Lammy, Labour MP:
“I’m just looking over there at Winston Churchill, on the 30th September 1938 he stood up in Parliament and he said we would not appease Hitler. I’m looking across to Nelson Mandela, who would not give in to apartheid. We say, we will not give in to the ERG. We will not appease.”
Neil Berry, journalist:
“Nobody imagined that the British state might ultimately be destabilized by English nationalism — which is what, as championed by Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, Brexit amounts to.”
Will Self, novelist and journalist:
“[The problem] is not that you have to be a racist or an anti Semite, to vote for Brexit. It’s just that every racist and anti Semite in the country did. […]
What I said was that every racist and anti Semite in the country pretty much probably voted for Brexit. I suspect it.”
Ryan Heath, Political Editor, journalist and author:
“While many Brits have strong emotions about the EU, they rarely have a strong understanding. I feel like a kindergarten teacher every time I speak on the issue.”
Jonathan Leake, Science & Environment Editor at The Sunday Times:
“It is a belief that some pro-Europeans already hold dear, but a group of scientists now claim to have confirmed it: Brexit voters are less bright than remainers.
Researchers gave 11,225 volunteers psychological tests before the referendum and asked how they intended to vote. Results suggest that leavers tended to be less numerate, more impulsive and more prone to accept the unsupported claims of authoritarian figures.
“Compared with remain voters, leave voters displayed significantly lower levels of numeracy and appeared more reliant on impulsive thinking,” said the researchers.”
With 17.4 million of these troglodites at large in the country, it’s a wonder the Remainers haven’t locked all of them up in cages for their own good — or banished them back to coal mines to labour out of sight underground. Perhaps they fear some kind of Morlock/Eloi situation developing.
5. Rewrite the rules
Objective: Undermine constitutional norms and rewrite the political rulebook.
Every action taken by pro-EU fanatics since the referendum has demonstrated beyond all doubt that there’s nothing they won’t sacrifice, no principle or convention they won’t pervert in order to stop Brexit.
“Abuse is terrible, it should be stopped, behaviour should change anyway, whether the speaker goes or not.
“But yes, if it comes to the constitutional future of this country, the most difficult decision we have made, not since the war but possibly, certainly in all our lifetimes, hundreds of years, yes it trumps bad behaviour.”
Bercow went on to spark controversy on multiple occasions by abandoning centuries of Parliamentary convention to obstruct Brexit, while alternately risking a constitutional crises by dredging up precedent from 1604 to justify allowing a pro-Remain motion.
To cap it all, the convicted criminal — Remain-supporting Labour MP Fiona Onasanya — attended Parliament on day release from prison wearing an ankle bracelet and cast the decisive vote to pass the anti-Brexit bill brought by fellow Remain Labour MP Yvette Cooper.
A recall petition in Onasanya’s overwhelmingly Leave-voting consituency eventually removed her as MP, prompting a byelection. This byelection was then won by another Labour MP Lisa Forbes — herself under fire for liking anti-semitic posts on Facebook. Forbes’ margin of victory over the Brexit Party candidate was a mere 683 votes, and further questions were raised when it transpired that convicted Labour vote-rigger Tariq Mahmood canvassed in the constituency alongside Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, and was also present during the vote count.
6. Control the vocabulary
Objective: Establish a vocabulary.
I’ve compiled a handy glossary of terms invented and adopted by the mainstream press (and Remainers on social media) to describe Brexit:
“Crash out” = to leave the EU.
“Cliff edge” = to leave the EU
“Hard Brexit” = to leave the EU.
“Soft Brexit” = to remain in the EU.
“Compromise” = to remain in the EU.
“Consensus” = to remain in the EU.
“Gammon”* = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Extreme” = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Far right” = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Extreme far right” = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Little Englander” = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Bigot” = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Racist” = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Populist” = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Nationalist” = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Nazi” = someone who is in favour of leaving the EU.
“Internationalist” = someone who is in favour of remaining in the EU.
“Globalist” = someone who is in favour of remaining in the EU.
“Moderate” = someone who is in favour of remaining in the EU.
“Hardliner” = someone who respects the result of the 2016 EU referendum.
“Fantasist” = someone who respects the result of the 2016 EU referendum.
“Dictator” = someone who respects the result of the 2016 EU referendum.
“Democrat” = someone who wants to re-run the 2016 EU referendum.
“People’s vote” = to re-run the 2016 EU referendum.
“Confirmatory vote” = to re-run the 2016 EU referendum.
“Second referendum” = to re-run the 2016 EU referendum.
“Pooling sovereignty” = sacrificing sovereignty.
*If history has taught us anything, it’s that even ‘moderates’ should be wary of terms that compare undesirable human beings to livestock.
Objective: This one’s easy — MPs should just ignore every manifesto promise they stood for election on — thereby freeing themselves to pursue their own agendas once in post.
Take Dominic Grieve, Conservative MP for Beaconsfield, who lost a confidence vote held by local party members, and is now facing deselection. His offence? Merely that he is a prominent, outspoken Remainer, who has called for a second referendum and addressed a pro-EU rally attended by an estimated 400,000 people in Westminster. Some might suggest that these actions are incompatible with the manifesto pledges he was elected on — such as respecting the referendum result, leaving the single market and customs union — but they would probably be leave voters so we can discount them.
“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”
8. We’ve always been at war with East Asia
Objective: Take great pains to keep the true agenda hidden from the public until it’s too late for them to stop it. Then deny ever making contrary statements.
There is no EU Army, until there is:
Britain yesterday wielded its veto to block a plan by Baroness Ashton to create an EU “operational military headquarters” with the support of France and Germany. […]
Secret proposals tabled by Lady Ashton, the EU foreign minister and seen by The Daily Telegraph called for a “permanent civilian-military planning and conduct capability” or “OHQ”.
“The Treaty of Lisbon offers an enhanced platform for the EU to act,” said the document. “This opportunity must be exploited.”
“This is a dangerous fantasy. The idea that there’s going to be a European air force, a European army, it is simply not true”
“European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called for the creation of a European army”
“If we were to revisit this in 40 years time and in that meantime we have turned ourselves into some bargain basement off shore Dubai economy and the European Union has created an army then clearly it will be more tricky”
“What is really important, if we look at the developments of the past year, is that we have to work on a vision of one day creating a real, true European army”
The French president Emmanuel Macron made his call during a radio interview last week: “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.
“We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.”
9. Tofu democracy
Objective: Defend against any criticism by deploying “Tofu” arguments.
If it looks like chicken, smells like chicken but tastes like shit — it’s probably tofu. The same is true of dozens of popular arguments which have been regurgitated and bandied around by a rabble of feeble-minded EU fanatics. These people can be mobilised on social media to repeat these fake-arguments almost infinitely, until hopefully they are accepted as ‘wisdom’.
For example, the so-called “People’s Vote”, which supposedly gives “the people” a chance to vote on Brexit. As opposed to the 2016 referendum, which was apparently only open to ‘gammon’ voters, and other miscellaneous livestock.
Another is, “more votes is more democracy”. This argument can be deployed to facilitate an endless number of votes on the same subject — until, of course, the pro-EU side wins one. In such an eventuality the result of the vote should be implemented as swiftly as possible, and every effort made to bind the outcome permanently into law.
10. Mummy knows best
Objective: Sometimes the public needs to be reminded about who’s in charge. Some of them think they are.
For decades there has been a gradual shift in the way the British political classes see the function of democracy: it is a switch away from the classical idea of voters driving the direction of policy, to voters used merely to ‘rubber-stamp’ or ‘legitimise’ decisions already agreed upon. This change accelerated in the Blair era, when ‘Trust Tony’ was Labour’s internal mantra — right up to the point he committed an unwilling nation to unwelcome wars. Even so, the ideology stuck. Today’s politicians view themselves more as parents to a population of unruly, poorly educated children, than their elected representatives. Masters, not servants.
They tell us how to vote, then reprimand us if we disobey. They even scold us for forcing them to overrule decisions we make that they don’t like. They ask us to sympathise with the difficult position voters often put them in: in which they’re forced to sidestep democracy in order to “do what’s best for us”.
Well, let me be crystal clear for those in the cheap seats: concerns about hypothetical damage to the economy, or our global standing, or grand plans put into motion decades ago do not, can not, and never should be allowed to override democracy.
I’ll say it again: economic fears (imagined or otherwise) do not give MPs, Lords or Monarchs the right to cancel our vote. The arguments about Brexit are over; the fight to protect our democracy has begun.