‘Remain voters are getting really boring now. It’s called democracy. They lost. Why don’t they just get over it?’
This weekend saw tens of thousands of people march through the streets of London to protest over the EU referendum result.
Banners such as ‘UN F*&k my Future’ ‘We are the 48%’ and ‘Winning by lying = cheating’ were on show as the swelling crowds overflowed out of Parliament Square. Some estimates suggested over 50,000 people attended the march.
The march angered some Leave voters leading to an out-pouring of scathing comments on social media. My own feed contained put-downs from Leave supporters like ‘You lost, get over it’ and ‘This is called democracy mate, move on’. This one summed up the feeling ‘Remain voters are getting really boring now. It’s called democracy. They lost. Why don’t they just get over it?’ Brexit supporting MP Lucy Allan even criticised the pro-EU demonstration that took place in London on Saturday as “a protest against democracy.”
Anyone with half a brain will realise that this line of thinking is simplistic at best. For a start, protesting and freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy, but for many of the protesters, democracy is the very thing they feel they’ve lost.
When Brexit campaigners backtracked on their three main campaign promises just hours after winning the vote, it took the sickening disappointment of the result to a whole new level. This type of democracy feels more Liberian than libertarian.
A leading legal academic,Michael Dougan, professor of European law at the University of Liverpool, has said the campaign for the UK to leave the EU was “criminally irresponsible” and that “Leave conducted one of the most dishonest campaigns this country has ever seen.” He lambasted the Leave campaign’s inability to define what Brexit would entail, which has led to uncertainty among financial markets and a 31-year-low for the pound sterling.
Lies over facts
“Facts don’t work” for winning votes, according to the multimillionaire co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign. Prominent UKIP donor Arron Banks admitted financing an “American-style” referendum campaign, even referencing controversial Donald Trump’s campaign as an influence.
In any other walk of life you’re largely accountable for what you say, but we appear to be existing in a new age of politics where you can even be open about your lies and it doesn’t matter.
For instance, when Donald Trump was exposed for having a one per cent factual accuracy rating (yes, one per cent) by Politifact, his ratings didn’t fall, they rose.
The deliberate use of misdirection and confusion runs deep throughout world politics and suits a right-wing fear based agenda. It is deeply concerning when politicians can easily dismiss experts as ‘stooges’ and facts as ‘scaremongering’, whilst peddling made up statistics and hollow policies without redress. Gove’s ‘the public are sick of experts’ quote must surely go down as the death of intellectualism.
Political Games for Personal Gains
In addition to the lies, post referendum voters have also been exposed to continuing revelations pouring out of all political parties that, as the Telegraph put it, ‘makes House of Cards look like Teletubbies’.
If sources are accurate, it seems that one of the leading Leave campaign leaders didn’t really want to leave at all, whilst one of the main Remain figureheads is a known Eurosceptic. We’re left with a feeling of surreal reality, not really certain what to believe or what the motives each of our elected campaigner really had.
Whilst Cameron took an extraordinary gamble by calling a referendum with the aim of finally uniting his party, nobody really expected the actual result. It also appears to be the consensus that Boris Johnson’s gamble to lead the Leave campaign to a dignified, but profile boosting defeat, has spectacularly backfired.
When the overall majority of MPs supported Remain, Boris knew that he’d gain significant airtime during the campaign trail. Little did he know that the public swing would provide a unforeseen Leave victory, or that his running buddy Gove would stab him in the back, and the front, to make the whole charade a complete waste of time.
Remain voters are simply left in disbelief at the ‘the biggest decision of our time’ being hijacked in such a calculated manner by politicians seeking political opportunities.
Ideology meets Finality
The decision of whether or not to leave the EU is of monumental significance to many lives and businesses. There is no reverse button, and it will be forever. So, when a statistically marginal result that is likely to have been marginally won on the basis of outright lies and political games, it’s no wonder that the 48% feel aggrieved and want to come out en-masse to demonstrate.
Any economist will tell you that there will be benefits to Leaving the EU, but they are likely to be outweighed by the disbenefits. Perversely, the benefits are likely to be stronger due to the blow the result has dealt to the rest of Europe. However, after the results came out, it quickly became evident that the vote to Leave was more than just a leap into the dark. Whilst being a member of the EU is by no means perfect, and the union faces huge challenges with or without the UK, we have no idea what the deal we’ll get will look like, but it’s almost certain that the Leave promises will not manifest themselves and the entire continent will be worse off as a result. Far-right-wing parties all over Europe are celebrating the UK vote like Christmas has come early, which does not sit well with those who have always believed British values stand up against such values.
Since the result under a fortnight ago, over four million people have signed a second referendum petition, smashing all petition records. Whilst the headlines in the right leaning mass media focus on the illegitimate nature of some of the signatories, those entries raising suspicion make up less than one per cent of all signatories.
It was actually Nigel Farage who suggested that a 52 to 48 majority would not be a statistically significant victory margin in anticipation of a defeat. The infamous second referendum petition was set up by a Leave supporter with the same result in mind, and was hijacked by Remain supporters after the results were announced. A four million strong petition cannot be ignored by parliament.
There is at least some glimmer of hope for Remainers. Yesterday the Guardian reported that a prominent law firm is taking pre-emptive legal action against the government, following the result, to try to ensure article 50 is not triggered without an act of parliament. One of the grounds of a likely challenge to the referendum is that it is merely advisory and the royal prerogative cannot be used to undermine parliamentary statute.
Leave voters must understand the sheer ridiculousness, in the eyes of Remain voters, of voting ourselves out of option A, for another, yet unspecified option. Had their been two credible options on the table, then a rational decision could have been made.
Whatever happens, the Brexit result means there will be no real winner, such is runaway train that has been set in motion. What is needed now is leadership to unite all parties both in the UK and Europe, but where that will emerge from is anyone’s guess.
In the meantime, Remain voters cannot and must not cease to be heard. Of course the majority of Leave voters will be satisfied with the result having ‘won their freedom back’ and ‘Made Britain Great again’, but we know there are a significant number of Leave voters with buyer’s remorse now that the scale of the lies are unravelling, and given the threat to the very existence of the Great Britain most Leavers hold dear.
And, by the way Leavers, now the lies have been blown out of the water, is a second referendum really such a terrible ‘anti-democracy’ idea? Surely we have an opportunity to now vote between two realistic alternatives, and not just between the present and a future ideology?