Amidst all the daily chaos in a quarrelling House of Commons, one simple fact remains. The often quoted “will of the people” is unknown. The 2016 referendum asking the people of the UK whether they wanted the country either to remain a member of or leave the European Union was deeply flawed. The diverse economic and social issues underlying what was in part a protest vote had not been defined as top priorities. And will certainly not be remedied by Brexit. Indeed leaving the EU will only make the situation worse, as is already happening.
Meanwhile our Government fails to address with urgency the existential crisis facing the world. The latest Institute for Public Policy Research report This is a crisis: Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown, argues that this is a crisis: Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown warns that mainstream political and policy debates have failed to recognise that human impacts on the environment have reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible. Human-induced environmental change is occurring at an unprecedented scale and pace and the window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic outcomes in societies around the world is rapidly closing. These outcomes include economic instability, large-scale involuntary migration, conflict, famine and the potential collapse of social and economic systems. The historical disregard of environmental considerations in most areas of policy has been a catastrophic mistake.
Now, children as young as five are due to be among the thousands of pupils walking out of their lessons as part of a climate change protest.
Brexit was the work of a few egoistic men, backed by big illegal money, partly provided by Aaron Banks, who showed little concern for the interests of the nation. They might be called psychopathic or narcissistic. They misinformed the public and misused social networking and Russian interference is alleged. The concept of “taking back control” is very dubious. Control for whom and for what purpose? Have those who use this phrase not heard of the principle of subsidiarity?
Corruption Arron Banks is being investigated over the Brexit campaign. Banks is the biggest individual donor in British political history, pouring millions of pounds into referendum campaigns. These are astonishing exposures of corruption that adds to the case for constitutional reform, up – to – date surveillance and a second peoples’ vote. Also see Arron Banks and why he’s being investigated over the Brexit campaigning investigated over the Brexit campaign .
The problem with Brexit is that it is a supposed solution without a problem. Under a systemic approach, problems and key issues are identified first; then the desired state is envisaged and a comprehensive strategy is developed to bring it about. Of course we know that the Brexit vote was a protest about the failure of successive governments to create a prosperous new 21st century economy for the whole of the UK that would benefit all citizens. Brexit will only make the situation worse. Different parts of the UK will want different solutions. So power and financial resources must be devolved to the different countries and regions.
Under the principle of subsidiarity , “in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Union shall act only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level.” So we use it to create a level playing field in key areas such as healthy food and sustainable and humane agriculture.
The constantly repeated mantra “Brexit is the will of the people” is either unwitting misinformation or clever propaganda designed to mesmerise us. Certainly, 52% of those who voted, voted leave and 48% voted to remain, a tiny difference. However, only 37% of electorate, representing 26% of “the people”, voted for Brexit. So 74% did not vote for Brexit. Did all those wanting to leave do so for the same reasons? Did they have a clear idea of what would follow? Many parts of the United Kingdom did not want to leave. There were huge differences depending on age. Sixteen and seventeen year olds, amongst those likely to be most adversely affected, had no vote. The referendum was poorly conceived and inappropriate for such a complex issue. And it was explicitly advisory.
People on both sides were misled and could not have known what the consequences would be. Now we know far more. Brexit is not the will of the Scottish people nor of those in London and the South East. Certainly it is not the will of most people under 45. The younger you are, the more likely you are to want Remain. 75% of 18 to 24-year-olds voted Remain. Most MPs, about 73%, are in favour of Remain. Nowhere else in the world would 37% of an electorate constitute a mandate for major constitutional change. Generally a two thirds majority is required. The referendum was poorly conceived and inappropriate for such a complex issue. This is another reason why we need a written constitution that sets out clearly how referenda must be conducted and the penalties for the sort of abuses set out above.
In these circumstances, a second referendum is the most democratic action for government to take.
A useful way of helping to reach consensus on issues such as membership of the European Union is the Citizens’ Assembly as described in these two articles: We can break the Brexit deadlock: with a citizens’ assembly. Put ordinary voters from both sides in a room and they may talk, listen and find a compromise. Such a process needs to be used in Parliament, instead of old-fashioned adversarial debate. People need to listen to each other. Consensus decision making decision-making is needed.
A very good analysis of the Brexit Referendum is provided by Wikipedia here
So what can people like you and I do?
- Lobby your MP or candidate. Demand their commitment to PR, votes for 16-17 year olds and comprehensive constitutional reform in the next Parliament.
- Support campaigns for political reform: Young People’s Party, For our Future’s Sake, Our Future Our Choice, UK Youth Parliament, Compass-The Progressive Alliance, Electoral Reform Society, Citizens Assembly Project, Unlock Democracy, Make Votes Matter, Counting Women In, 50:50 Parliament, Women’s Equality Party, Voice4 Change, Young People’s Party, People’s Vote and many more. Young people’s campaign .
Bruce Nixon is author of The 21st Century Revolution: A Call to Greatness https://www.brucenixon.com/21stCenturyRevolution.html . He gives talks on the situation we are in and what is to be done.