If I had a pound for every brexiter who had called me ‘undemocratic,’ I could probably take you all out for a slap up meal (I couldn’t, because that would be classed as ‘treating’ and there are laws about that kind of thing, and rightly so). But fear not, friends as they are wrong, of course. I am a democrat with every fibre of my being, and you probably are too.
We all have the great privilege of living in a representative democracy. Every five years (or two, if you are Mrs Twisty Turny May) you have the right to vote for someone to represent you in parliament. Two years ago, my friends and neighbours chose, in their infinte wisdom, hard-line brexiter Steve Baker. That was their democratic right, of course – but he wouldn’t have had quite such an easy canter to the finish if we had a fair voting system, which is a whole other story. But win he did, and as a democrat I respect that.
One year ago, lest anyone forgot, we had an advisory referendum on the subject of our continued membership of the EU. The result of this advisory referendum was the discovery that we are bitterly divided. 51.9% to 48.1% to be precise. Not only that, if you break it down England and Wales came out in favour of leaving, whilst Scotland and Northern Ireland want to stay. You can break it down still further: London wants to stay, Sunderland wants to leave. My own constituency, Wycombe, wants to stay.
So, in a repesentative democracy, what are we to make of this? This advisory referendum raised far more questions than it answers. Well, if you were the Prime Minister who called this referendum, you might take some responsibility steering us though the mess you made, but we all know what happened there. Enter Mrs Twisty Turny May, who you may remember was a remainer, who has a road to Damascus conversion and becomes a hard line brexiter. Forget the 48%, forget Scotland, Northern Ireland, London and Wycombe. They don’t matter now. No compromises, hard brexit all the way – and to hell with the consequences.
Now apparently, we have to ‘suck it up and stop remoaning’ otherwise we are being undemocratic. Sorry, but that isn’t how democracy works. There are a variety of paths we could follow as a nation. Hard brexit is only one response to the result of the advisory referendum. Ruling out Single Market membership is economically illiterate, and ruling out the free movement of European Citizens is inhuman. Threatening to walk away with no deal, as Mrs May has done, is insane. To want what is best for our nation is responsible and right.
Which brings me nicely back to representative democracy. Those of us who don’t believe in hard brexit at any cost have been given an opportunity to elect representatives who will repesent our views. We absolutely must seize that opportunity, it may be the only chance we will get.
And nothing could be more democratic than that.