Tuesday, 17 April 2018

To Boldly Go Where No Referendum Has Gone Before



Speaking as a Trekkie, I find myself a mite confused by the assertion over the weekend, by Sir Patrick Stewart, that the character he played, Jean-Luc Picard, would have voted remain at the referendum in 2016. Firstly, surely that is the wrong tense. Star Trek, after all, is set in the future and Jean-Luc Picard has not yet been born. Also, the EU, yes even the sainted EU, would long ago have been abolished and supplanted by world government and then by interstellar government. But also Jean-Luc is French. He wouldn't get the vote anyway.

Sir Patrick also opined on Andrew Marr's show that, were the referendum people's vote to decide that it didn't like the deal done by the Government, we would simply stay in the EU. Except we wouldn't. The original referendum instructed the British Government that we are to leave. Parliament then enacted this by empowering the Government to move Article 50. That means that we are leaving. The terms of our leaving are incidental to our actually leaving. If the deal were to be rejected, either by Parliament or by the people, Britain would leave without a deal. Parliament is sovereign and Parliament has decreed that, come what may, we are leaving. Theresa May wrote to the EU informing them of this. We could only stay in by Parliament agreeing to reverse its earlier decision and by the agreement of the EU. They would likely demand onerous terms.

This asinine remark - there's a reason why actors should stick to scripts - was made as part of the latest campaign to ignore the result of the referendum because a bunch of self righteous luvvies and elitists, don't like the way we voted. This of course is how the EU rolls. It's not keen on democracy because the plebs don't do as they are told. Voting is something they look down on and referendums are dangerous. When they must be held they must be held again and again until the 'correct' result is accomplished after which no more referendums will be allowed. They then operate on the basis that the European parliamentary elections somehow accord the Commission the power to govern us all despite never actually being directly elected. That's how they prefer it.

Not that this time they are calling the re-running of the referendum a referendum. No. Any re-run will instead be termed a 'People's Vote'. This is not a re-run. Oh no. Perish the thought. This is just the opportunity for the people to be consulted about the final deal that is won by the British Government in the negotiations. The same people who claim that Parliament is sovereign and should be the final arbiter of these things and that such questions are far too complex to be decided by referendum have alighted on this ruse.

But a ruse is exactly what it is of course. The referendum was held on a simple and easy to understand question - to stay in the EU or to leave it. We chose to leave. There was no stipulation about the terms of our leaving, no mention of the Brexit bill, no mention of a transitional deal, no talk of fish, Gibraltar, the customs union, the Single Market. We didn't even talk about Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, Tony Blair or Lord Adonis. The British people made a decision and then left the details to the politicians in much the same way we have an election every five years and then leave governing to them too.

The vote was held and the remain side lost. They lost because their argument, such as it was, failed to convince the electorate. This was despite them having all of the advantages and quite a lot of lies and hyperbole, just as much truth be told, as on the leave side that they have complained about ever since. You can't help wondering, if being in the EU is such a demonstrably superior and high minded endeavour as has been claimed ever since, that such arguments of high principle were not made during the campaign rather than lots of claims about how we would all be poorer and at risk of war if we left. Surely they should have made these positive claims at the time rather than wait nearly two years after the event and got a science fiction character to argue it for them.

But if it is such an obvious argument then there is no problem is there. Because there will be no problem whatsoever about persuading the British people to rejoin once we have left. They will be able to do so without telling any lies this time. Join the EU, they will say. Surrender legislating powers to an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels and a federalist court. Have your laws decided by a parliament that cannot even decide where it sits all of the time and thus has to move around. Give to 300 million people the right to live and work in the UK and to get all of the benefits of living here without having made any financial contribution hitherto. Oh and pay child benefit to children who do not even live in Britain. Pay more in than you take out in perpetuity and regularly have those payments increased. Also pay additional sums to the EU just because the British economy performs better than others despite our having absorbed large numbers of the EU's unemployed. Allow the rest of Europe to fish our waters too to the detriment of our own native fishermen. In return for this? Well we get the right to travel in Europe, but no more than we get anyway. But it is easier to buy a holiday home, although of course they still get to levy their excessive taxes on us for the privilege. The EU will continue to try and homogenise us all and will try and force us into the euro and complete metrification. But we will be the only silly buggers who obey all of their pettifogging rules whilst the others ignore them.

That would be the honest approach to the referendum that they lost. I wonder why they won't take that approach.

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