The people have spoken: the case for reversing Brexit

Reverse Brexit

We rightly cherish the notion of liberal democracy, it’s the least worst system of government, but it isn’t perfect. In its purist form, direct democracy, government is hardly necessary at all, using technology familiar to any internet user, every issue deemed of interest to voters could be placed before them in a poll. But the dangers of this system are all too apparent; decisions would always favour the lowest common denominator so in most developed countries where democracy is established it has evolved in the form of representative democracy, where the electorate are offered a choice of candidates who will represent them in parliament and vote on their behalf.

As the voter is invariably given a choice of voting for the political party to which the candidate is aligned these candidates when elected won’t reflect the all the views of all the people who elected them and the more extreme opinions will be leavened. Those elected to parliament will have a variety of views, even within each party so these checks and balances are intended to protect us from the tyranny of the mob.

Occasionally democratic governments seek the opinion of the electorate for a single issue by means of a referendum. Even democratic governments rarely if ever use a referendum in order to genuinely seek the views of the electorate; rather they do so to justify a political action that they intend to take in which case they need to be pretty certain of winning it. But referenda inevitably throw up another problem and that is regardless of the question some voters will use it to protest about issues unrelated to it.

The referendum to leave the EU was a classic case of a reckless government that used it to subdue the Eurosceptic wing of the conservative party and that totally misjudged the mood of the electorate who after 10 years of austerity and stagnant wage growth, took the opportunity to give a bloody nose to the government who supported Remain by voting to Leave.

In the intervening year the government (now with a slender majority after the GE) has sought the impossible, to “have our cake and eat it”. Despite warnings from the EU and most independent political and economic opinion saying this was an unrealistic fantasy the government persists and they do so for one reason, “the will of the people” as demonstrated by the referendum cannot be flouted and supporters of Brexit claim a democratic mandate.

But can we reverse the referendum decision and still stay true to our liberal democratic credentials? Yes we can for three reasons:

1 If David Cameron had offered referendum on the return of Capital Punishment and a majority voted to hang criminals should we honour that as well? The answer should be No; even if the decision was achieved by a majority hanging is so fundamentally at odds with our liberal democratic values that it should be rejected. So there is an ethical precedent to reject a referendum result.

2 In the run up to the Brexit referendum an extreme anti EU sentiment was stirred up by the EU hating press that for the last 40 years has waged war on our membership of the EU. Of course a free press is fundamental to a liberal democracy but in this campaign aided by unscrupulous politicians, they published lies and encouraged xenophobia and this travesty of the truth was exemplified by the now infamous “£350 per week for the NHS” on the side of the red bus that swayed many voters despite in being totally untrue. So there is precedent for challenging a result that was obtained by fraudulent means.

3 Legally the Brexit Referendum was “advisory” so the government is under no obligation to abide by the result although clearly they feel obliged to do so for political reasons. So there is a legal precedent for rejecting the result.

Fear of offending liberal democratic values should not be an obstacle for rejecting Brexit, so politicians and especially business leaders and organisations should nail their colours to the mast before more damage is done.

Imagine this…

Image this

US President Donald Trump quickly enacts his (anti) NATO policy that no longer offers the guarantee of a US response if another NATO member is attacked.

Putin still smarting from Russia’s expulsion from the Olympics is anxious to assert its power and influence and invades eastern Ukraine, this time without the pretence that no Russian military are involved and quickly moves west to encircle Kiev claiming it is necessary in order to protect all Russian speaking Ukrainians.

Already at the point of ejecting Turkey because it is no longer a democracy NATO is crippled by indecision and cannot agree any response.

President Trump unilaterally imposes tariffs on many imported products and raw materials effectively ending the post war era of free trade. He also threatens China that the USA may default on its huge debt. This causes another worldwide economic shock with the collapse of major financial institutions that cannot be baled out this time.

Quantitative Easing is no longer and option and the only other weapon available to central banks, negative interest rates, in the US, EU, UK and elsewhere has no effect on the contraction of the economies but causes corporations and individual to halt all but essential spending adding to the cycle of decline.

Having been drastically reduced in Southern Europe already State pensions are slashed in northern Europe and in the UK the Pension Protection Fund cannot cope with the number of companies that can’t meet their pension liabilities leaving many who have paid into company funds with the complete loss of their pensions.

Europe is plunged into even deeper economic turmoil as the fundamental flaws in the Euro are fully exposed. Right wing parties make huge electoral advances and in Germany the spectre of Nazism looms once again as democratic forces seem unable to hold the line. Migrants welcomed by former Chancellor Angela Merkel are attacked and many killed.

Greece bedevilled with bail out debt and the migrant crisis faces the collapse of civil society and is no longer a functioning state as marauding gangs steal and pillage at will as no public sector workers including the police, military and healthcare have received payment for months.

The EU parliament and Commission are temporarily dissolved and all national borders are reinstated. What little trade there is is hampered by long delays at custom controls. Global air travel is hugely diminished, tourism all but non-existent.

Seizing an opportunity amid the global economic turmoil Putin sends a large military presence to its enclave on the Baltic of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland, thus posing a direct threat to the two NATO/EU member states. Mass demonstrations in both countries offer Russia the pretext that they are protecting their citizens from attack by NATO.

President Trump continues his refusal to back the NATO threat of a military response if Lithuania or Poland is threatened. Islamist terror attacks increase in the USA and Trump orders all Muslims to attend loyalty screening centres. Building of the much heralded wall between the USA and Mexico has made little headway and streams of illegal immigrants swarm over the border.

Despite Article 50 having been enacted UK Brexit negotiations are halted and we are left in a limbo, half in-half out. Ironically immigration has dropped to much less than the tens of thousands the Brexiteers wanted as hundreds of thousands of UK citizens who have been living abroad return home.

In China several large banks that have lent money for speculative development collapse and unemployment increases at an unprecedented pace. Street demonstrations in Hong Kong spread to mainland China causing a state of emergency to be issued.

North Korea for so long dependent on China for economic support faces mass food riots as finance is withdrawn. In order to distract from his country’s ills Kim Jong Un instigates further ballistic missile tests one of which goes astray landing on the north coast of Honshu in Japan. President Trump suddenly becomes aware of “U.S.-Japan Joint Declaration on Security” that appears to offer military support in the event of an attack on Japan. He hurriedly issues a statement confirming his administrations “America First” policy that precludes regional military intervention in East Asia.

This emboldens China to intensify its development of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea resulting in the termination of diplomatic relations with China by Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

In Syria ISIL has been defeated and the Free Syrian Army, no longer receiving US support throws in the towel. Bashar Al-Assad who has remained in power begins to consolidate his grip on the country again helped by Russia who now has several permanent air bases in the Latakia region causing alarm to many countries in the Eastern Mediterranean including Israel.

The Olympic Games in Rio that was beset with transport strikes, ticketing problems, sponsor withdrawals, cancellations of events and the impeachment and imprisonment of President Dilma Rousseff has left an economic as well as political crisis that results in a coup by the military in order to restore order.

With the further collapse of the oils price Venezuela has also been paralysed by a military coup and Cuba, a beneficiary of previous Venezuelan administrations, is in total disintegration causing many Cubans to attempt the perilous sea voyage to Florida. True to his word President Trump sends them straight back and many perish.

Instability in Europe continues but ironically (after Brexit) the UK finds itself in a less perilous position than many of its neighbours. After the prosecution of the main protagonists in the EU Referendum debate for dishonesty the Tory Party are in such disarray that they are forced into a General Election. The Labour Party having split cannot capitalise on the situation as Real Labour and Labour fight in the courts over assets and rights. The LibDems are still a tiny party and the only well organised and competent force in British politics is the SNP. Legislation is hastily drawn up that allows the Scottish and UK parliaments to work together in a government of national unity and Nicola Sturgeon becomes the Prime Minister of the UK.

The severe reduction in pharmaceutical research leads to the much feared scenario of Antibiotic resistant bacteria resulting in a tuberculosis epidemic across much of the world along with hugely increased death rates in hospitals due to untreatable MRSA infections.

Australia and New Zealand whose geographical isolation has protected them from Antibiotic resistant contagion impose a “temporary” ban on all travel in and out of their countries (except between the two). Realising that their economies will be severely impacted both enact economic policies in order to make them self sufficient at least in food production. In an attempt to maintain stability they implement a policy of nationalisation of most key industries and the introduction of a maximum wage.

All climate change targets have been abandoned as States scrabble to use any indigenous fuel they posses. The UN despite trying to unify the competing demands from member states has become totally ineffectual and the Security Council hasn’t met in months so President Trump withdraws all US funding from it and gives notice for it to quit its headquarters in New York. Some wags have speculated that it won’t be long before the TRUMP logo is seen emblazoned on the building.

Although an independent state Belarus has very close military and economic ties with Russia and readily accedes to Putin’s request to allow it to use southern Belarus in order to support its military incursion into Ukraine. This greatly alarms NATO as it puts even greater pressure not only on Poland and Lithuania but Latvia that also has a land border with Belarus. The close proximity of Belarus with Kaliningrad creates the fear that Russia’s plan maybe to isolate the three Baltic states from the rest of the EU. Once again President Trump resists any NATO counter measures but to everyone’s astonishment he invites the Russian president to the USA saying that Putin is “my kinda guy”.

As all coalition personnel including advisers have now left Afghanistan the Taliban quickly overrun the government and resume control while in Pakistan they have forced the government into implementing full Sharia Law. Bangladesh quickly follows suit leaving India sandwiched between two hard-line Islamist states. Inter-communal violence intensifies as India tries to calm its Muslim population that has been infiltrated by extremists.

Trump and Putin meet in Camp David both seeing this as an opportunity to bolster their prestige at home and this works well for Putin who is lauded on his return home having received guarantees from Trump that Russia’s plan to increase its sphere of influence in Europe would not be resisted by the USA.

However for President Trump this was not the situation; as many had predicted he is now floundering, his woeful ignorance of geo-politics is exposed and his simplistic policies at home are unravelling as the economy nosedives, leaving those who formed the majority of his supporters much worse off with repossessions and unemployment rising. As he didn’t manage to persuade other world leaders to revoke the Iranian nuclear deal, a resurgent Syria signs a joint defence deal with Iran which poses an increased threat to Israel. The US religious right, always great supporters of Israel are pressing Trump to offer guarantees for Israel’s security which is in contradiction to Trump’s isolationist “America First” policy, leaving the Republican party wondering how on earth they came to support the Trump presidential nomination.

The future continues…