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June 27, 2016

After the surprise result of the BREXIT referendum I’ve seen lots of calls from people that the remainers should just get on board and move on. Well I won’t.

I accept that the leavers got more votes, I don’t accept that they won. Here is why.

This is a major constitutional change from which there is realistically no way back. It will strip from every citizen of the United Kingdom their European Citizenship with huge economic implications for everyone in the UK. Parliament  set this referendum up to be advisory, not binding, I assume they did this for a reason.

Now look at what is required for a strike ballot for core services in the UK under the new rules brought in by this government:

  • At least 50% of members entitled to vote must do so for ballots on industrial action to be valid. Currently balloting rules do not require any specific level of participation by union members.

  • 40% of those eligible to vote must back action for strikes in core public services (Health, Education, Transport & Fire Services). Ballots currently require a simple majority to back action.

So for a strike you need to have 40% of the electorate vote for the action. How can a major constitutional change to the country be less important than a strike?

Then there are the leavers themselves. Farage has been quoted as saying a 52/48 victory for remain would be “unfinished business”. Given the one way nature of leaving this margin is not remotely conclusive. What is sauce for the goose.

Now neither side showered themselves in glory during the campaign but the leavers’ promises started unravelling even before the markets made it clear that the savings they claimed would never be realised . They claimed we could get access to the European market without paying in and without accepting free movement of people. It was clear to many before that this was nonsense but it is even clearer now. Our service economy would be destroyed outside of the market so it is simply inconceivable that any deal without access to the market would be acceptable. The EU know this. Even Germany who export a lot to us won’t let us do a deal. They have all the cards.

Leaving would put the Northern Ireland peace progress in jeopardy and certainly result in Scotland leaving the Union.

It’s now becoming clear that the right wing press were playing games. The EU was a convenient whipping boy about which they could tell lies and use to stir up fear to boost their circulation while they were confident that we would never leave.

You can see this from the utterances of Kelvin Mackenzie . Even he is having second thoughts after voting to leave:

When I put my cross against Leave I felt a surge as though for the first time in my life my vote did count. I had the power.

Four days later I don’t feel quite the same. I have buyer’s remorse. A sense of being careful what you wish for. To be truthful, I am fearful of what lies ahead.

This is after years of spreading fear and bile poisoning any well of good will to the EU.

It’s not just Kelvin.  The Telegraph, Mail, Express and even the Sun are suddenly getting cold feet about leaving.

As for the leaders of the leave campaign themselves, they have been shown up for the chancers they are. Johnson and Gove have gone AWOL at a time that should have been their greatest victory. They have no stomach for the insanity that they have inflicted on the country.

What now?

The sooner parliament take control and backs away from the advisory result the better. This has inflicted huge damage to the United Kingdom some of which is already irreversible but that does not mean we have to continue down this path.

That said the outcome can not just be ignored. The fact that so many people felt unrepresented in this democracy is a scandal and this needs to lead to real electoral and political reform. It has put paid to the idea that the first past the post system leads to stable and secure government. It needs to go. Then the major parties will not be able to ignore large parts of the country that are not considered marginal seats. Yes we would end up with UKIP or even the BNP in parliament but better there where their misinformation and lies can be held to account.

Also those of us who want to stay in the EU need to stop accepting the jibes of the right wing press and politicians of all colours who would use the EU as an excuse for their failings. We have to stand up and say we are proud to be Europeans and proud of what the EU has achieved. It’s not perfect, nothing ever is, but the EU is the best we have and I’m proud to call myself a Citizen of the European Union.

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  1. Chris, it’s over. Get over it

  2. chrisgerhard permalink

    I don’t agree. There is still much to fight for.

  3. Gavin Maltby permalink

    100% agree Chris. Had Leave lost they’d have wanted a rerun several years down the track,
    and they’d keep trying. Remain lost, but it’s a one way street once you leave – if the people have
    changed their minds there is only one chance to avoid this route.

    What sort of crazy government sets up a non-binding referendum which it treats as binding,
    but did not make clear conditions for a clear win. It typically takes a two thirds majority to
    chance a constitution, but something as big as this takes a simple majority? Setting it up under
    the parameters they did was irresponsible.

    And while “leaders” like Boris and Farage have clearly lied in the campaign and had no plan for
    victory, I’d also lay a bunch of the blame at the feet of that wet blanket Corbyn and the feeble
    force that Labour has become. Any of the recent Labour leaders before Corbyn would have
    got out there and enthusiastically argued for the benefits of remaining, and made it clear to
    the party where leadership stood; instead half of traditional labour voters polled before the
    referendum were unable to say with confidence what the party position was. He, too, must go.

  4. John Tzanetis permalink

    Thanks Chris, well put. This referendum has been a total fiasco and has exposed the shallowness and populist political system that governs us as well as the huge divisions in our society.

    1) Regulate the media. Hate speech is illegal, yet we allow them to poison us on a daily basis, completely unchallenged.

    2) Even though as a nation we are self obsessed and inward looking, we somehow fail to see that poverty and misery have taken control of many parts of our society. Instead we watch poverty porn on telly and laugh at others misery. Where is our empathy? Since when has it been acceptable to treat your neighbours in this way?

    3) PR/AV. The one chance we had to make a REAL change to the way we elect our representatives, we spurned. Mass apathy and misinformation during that disaster of a referendum.

    4) Ignorance rules. If people like me, a balls to the wall EU federalist, a European above all else, failed to fully understand and communicate what the EU stands for and why it was lunacy to allow the constant euroscepticism to go unchallenged, what chance has a man that lives in poverty, whose everyday life and community has been changed beyond recognition in one generation and whose only way to vent his anger is to lash out at the powers at be?

    I only have myself to blame. I sat by and watched this happen to my people, my nation, my europe. Now I have to fix this. Or I can sit here, make myself a coffee and rant about the football.

    Iceland eh? “Kicked out of Europe twice in a week, by Iceland, and by those who shop there” well, it made me laugh…..

  5. Excellent blog. I fully agree with what you say and would add:
    1. I voted remain in a referendum I did not want. The majority of the country did not vote for a referendum in the first place, so why should what is defined in law as an advisory referendum suddenly become binding. Countries that treat referenda as binding do not allow a simple majority to make such a major change (e.g. the requirement in Australia that you also need a majority of the states, which would have failed here).
    2. The press (and I think Gove and Johnson are more journalist than statesmen) were overwhelmingly pro-leave and did not in any way present a balanced argument. The irony that they are now running personal finance advice on the consequences of leaving that is far more honest than anything they published in the run up to the referendum.
    3. I do not think that many people, perhaps particularly those voting to leave, fully understood the monumental nature of the decision – far more important than the usual General Election, much of which can be reversed 4-5 years later. “Buyers remorse” is being clearly evidenced.
    4. I can only speculate at the motives of those voting to leave, and politicians of all sides clearly have a job to do in responding to and addressing these concerns. However, I cannot believe that many of those voting leave realised they were not voting for a clear alternative (as there is no agreement on what leave means, and not even 2 distinct UKIP and Tory versions, instead we have a mishmash of competing visions, many of which seem to amount to remaining in the EU in all but name). But the narrow majority for leave has precipitated a change of Prime Minister, a loss of all our personal wealth, the likely change of the leader of the Opposition and the possible split of the Opposition party itself. Does anyone, other than an extremist, really want all that?

  6. Mr Banana permalink

    We’re at the brink for sure, and there may be ways to pull back from the edge – perhaps I’ll wake up tomorrow and Bobby Ewing will be in the shower asking what all the fuss is about.

    Ultimately we have been badly let down. By our own politicians, only able to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt rather than a true case for their arguments, a polarised media unwilling to question the politicians “facts” and Europe itself – unable to offer anything than a non-comital shrug.

    If there is any good to come of this then it would be a wake up call to the mandarins in Brussels to properly consider radical reform. Trying to force a wavering nation to stay in the union with threats has not worked; deep down change is required to make the EU attractive to its current members.

    It’s probably too late for us, but it may make the EU a better place for others. Or, the powers that be may continue to dismiss descent from other nations and will inexorably slide into disintegration.

    If there is any will to fix this then it must be taken out of the hands of the self serving politicians who put us here in the first place – unfortunately I don’t know how to make that happen.

  7. terence dennis bon permalink

    All it is is Tory party infighting that has brought this about, Stuff the country that doesn’t matter to them, you’ve heard May, Brexit means Brexit and to hell with the consequences as long as the Tory backbench anti-Europe morons and the former Tory Farage are happy. Well it doesn’t work like that, What was said above, it’s over, get over it? Let me tell you something. IT HASN’T EVEN BEGUN YET, over 50% of this country want to remain (if you add those 16 year olds, who will be 18 when we’re due to come out) that is no mandate, this government say you shouldn’t strike if a certain percentage of the membership hasn’t voted for it. now they should practice what they preach, as I said, THE FIGHT IS JUST BEGINNING, AND I CANNOT WAIT

  8. The referendum wasn’t advisory, it was made clear that the government would abide by the majority vote. 9 months on article 60 is due to be triggered tomorrow and I hope that you can now see that the outlook is good for the UK whereas not so good for some EU countries who are suffering for being part of the Eurozone.

    • chrisgerhard permalink

      Than you for your reply.

      Like so much from the leave side it is factually wrong. The referendum was advisory, it is article 50 not 60 that is being triggered, and the economies in the Euro zone are growing faster than ours. Where as there does not seem to be a single benefit from leaving. The pound has dropped msssivily in value, inflation is up and we have lost all our influence in Europe. Sadly I fear the reality of the situation will not dawn on the leavers until it it to late.

      • Quite right. The Act putting the referendum into law was clearly ill thought through, as shown by the Government trying and failing to invoke article 50 without a further parliamentary vote and the need for a subsequent Act of Parliament.

        However, the original Act was clear that the referendum was advisory so that is a fact.

        As with any decision or vote in a democracy, those that do not agree with it are free to carry on campaigning against it. Given the momentous nature of the decision to leave the EU, the length of time it will take to implement and many different ways in which we could leave, leavers should not be surprised or hostile to remainers who carry on arguing for what they believe in. The Poll tax was originally implemented in Scotland by a seemingly all powerful Prime Minister. The subsequent protests led to her downfall and the abandonment of the policy. This should give us hope!

  9. I agree with you matey. Almost a year on since that debacle…and I’m still hacked off about it.

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