Brexit – the most damaging event for our country since World War Two. We need democracy in action.

Parliament has just returned from recess and tomorrow the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will be debated in the House of Commons in its second reading.  In this context, Stephen Dorrell, Chair of the European Movement UK, has stressed the need for real democracy in debates about exiting the European Union.  His powerful piece has been published in The Independent and extracts are below:

The Real Democratic Challenge 

  • “We are repeatedly told that the 2016 referendum means that Parliament has no choice but to ‘deliver Brexit’. Failure to do so would be ‘undemocratic’, and would demonstrate that Parliament ‘holds the voters in contempt’.

    “It is high time to expose this nonsense.”

  • “The real reason why repeated attempts to silence the argument against Brexit are so dangerous is that by claiming democratic authority for their position the Brexiteer faction – for that is what they remain – demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of the nature of democracy itself.

    “They reduce a democratic culture to the status of a transaction. The voters are asked a question; they provide an answer; go, do.

    “No democrat should entertain this diminished understanding of democracy for a single moment. Real life is lived in real time. Circumstances change; reality changes; opinions change.

    “Democracy is the means by which the ministers who make these decisions are subject to constant challenge, and required to provide day by day explanation and justification for the actions they take in our name.

    “It is hard to imagine a more important time for a vigorous and challenging democratic debate.”


  • “The real scandal of current British politics is not the fact that the EU is no more perfect than any other human organization; it is the unwillingness of Parliamentarians of all political colours to provide effective democratic challenge to a government which is prejudicing relationships and institutions which, until a few short months ago, were regarded as vital national interests.

    “Far from improving the accountability of decision-makers, the effect of the EU referendum has been to provide ministers with a shield which prevents their decisions being questioned.”

  • “The referendum is being used as an excuse to withdraw Britain’s support for this process and to describe any opposition as undemocratic.

    “In place of the successful commitment of half a century to build a community of like-minded nations with a commitment to mutual security and common interests, our government is pursuing a destructive agenda which owes more to short term political calculation than it does to any coherent view of Britain’s interests and security.”

  • Our politics is a masterclass in cynicism. The government is embarked on a course which the majority of ministers and backbench MPs continue to believe – as they argued last year – will profoundly prejudice our essential national interests. The majority of opposition MPs share the view of their government colleagues but choose to watch the process unfold largely in silence.

    “That is why it is so important for cross-party, pro-European voices to come together to challenge Britain’s drift towards Trumpian isolationism.

    “Of course we must hear the voters’ voice. But democracy is a dialogue in which all voices should be heard. And it must allow voters to change their mind.

    “It has never been more important.”

My view is that there should be a debate and a vote once the real cost is known. The price is too high and the disruption is monumental. It will destroy our economy and cause immense damage to collaboration on science, the environment, terrorism, crime and many more. We need to seriously rethink.

21 thoughts on “Brexit – the most damaging event for our country since World War Two. We need democracy in action.

    1. There is no mess here Cheryl, 41 years ago people in this Country voted to enter The Common Market, we accepted it we had to, those of us who did not vote for it. Now BREXIT has happened and those opposed are acting like spoilt brats because they did not get their way. Britain, or England my Country, will survive more and more foreign businesses are coming here, we will cope we always have we don’t need to be part of Europe. So if my bluntness offends you in any way.

      1. Well it doesn’t really matter if folks agree or disagree with it. The fact that it’s creating such havoc means it makes a mess that has to be sorted out. And no, you didn’t offend me, hon. You live there. It’s not for me to have an opinion. 🙂

      2. Haven’t different opinions is not offensive Anna. Calling people spoilt brats is though. Surely we can disagree without abuse?
        I hope when the true cost of this mess is apparent that we are able to coolly ressess.

    2. There is such division, bad feeling and the rise of such hatred. Swathes of the country whose faces are different colours or accents are European feel unwelcome and threatened. Families are being split. It is such a shame. It has changed the whole tone of the country and some of the most obnoxious people feel able to abuse others. I find it horrible.
      In terms of what is happening – every day we find more costs and problems.
      They are talking of a mass exodus. Frankfurt is alreading looking to take 80,000 bankers from London. Our economy is going to be shot to pieces.
      There is a terrible cost and it is going to make us a lot unsafer. All the cooperation on crime and terrorism is going to be lost.
      I dread it for my grandchildren.
      My only hope is that when the true costs and impact become obvious people will wake up and we will not opt out. But already so much damage has been done. We’ve never had such a right-wing government as this or such bad feeling. So much is going by unnoticed because of Brexit.

    1. No Anna. We won’t agree. But if you firmly believe that something if going to be disastrous for the country you have to stand up and say it. You voted Brexit because of immigration and terrorism, didn’t you?
      I agree that there has been too much immigration too quickly and terrorism is terrible.
      Where we disagree is how to tackle this. For me Brexit is like cutting your nose off to spite your face. Simple as that. I have no doubt that it will seriously damage our economy. And it has already seriously created disharmony.
      You don’t shut up and accept things that are simply wrong. If you believe in something you fight for it. I believe in fairness and I want a future for my grandchildren. It’s not about me. it isn’t going to affect me.

  1. I think they should debate it, assess what the outcome will be, then we can have another vote. If we’re so confident the vote reflects the views of the country it doesn’t do any harm to vote again with more facts once the negotiations happen. Our ability to work together on terrorism should still be the same as we’re not leaving NATO. If anything it will make us able to do more stringent checks on those entering the country. I’m not against immigration, there are a lot of fantastic people living here, but my feeling is that having skilled workers come in from the EU is giving our government an excuse not to invest in our young. 🇬🇧 Time will tell!

    1. Faye – I think you will find that the anti-terrorism collaboration is on a police level and not NATO.
      We do need to do stringent checks to stop terrorists getting in but nearly all have been home-grown.
      I’m all for a second vote with a real debate shorn of the lies.

      1. I was talking about worldwide terrorism as well as domestic e.g ISIS in Syria, Russia being Russia, North Korea being North Korea, etc. I’m sure we’ll still have channels of communication with Europe over criminals & terrorism. It would be a strange thing to dismantle entirely because we left a customs union. Who knows though, we live in crazy times. Shame we won’t have any strawberries cause no one will help us pick them & we’ll probably all get scurvy.

      2. Faye – OK – I can see where you’re coming from.
        Hopefully we’ll find a way. Might have to pick our own strawberries – and cabbages – and dig up potatoes – and leeks – and onions ……………

    2. Why should you vote again we had a vote you had the result. General Election, if the vote does not go your way will people demand another vote, that would be ludicrous. Democracy, there was a vote in this Country to stay in Europe or Leave, the majority voted to leave, what is the problem. Many things in this Country I do not agree with, I don’t go out shouting and carrying on about it, I accept it and get on with life as best I can. Brexit has happened, I didn’t want to be part of Europe 41 years ago but I had no choice, I did not demand another vote.

      1. When it becomes quite clear the costs and ramifications of leaving we will be much clearer than we were with all the lies being told, the platitudes and deception. Then we should decide whether it is in the best interests of the country or not. That is my opinion and that is democracy.
        We don’t get a government forever. We vote for one every five years.
        Anna – you are still complaining about what happened 41 years ago. But at least back then there weren’t a pack of lies told about it. It was debated fairly. This has been tinged with fear and hatred and blatant untruths.

  2. Calling people spoilt brats because that is how they are acting is not offensive Opher, thats how you wish to take it. Calling or referring to someone as a Racist is offensive, and before you accuse me of saying you called me that, I have not, but that is the chant for those who voted Brexit.

    1. Anna – arguing for the best outcome for your country is not being a spoilt brat. That is offensive. I do not call you names. I respect your stance even though I think you are totally and utterly wrong. You have the right to call it how you see it. I have the right to argue my case. With companies already making plans to leave the harm to our economy will be enormous. Couple that with the damage to numerous other institutions and I think this is a no-brainer. There is far too much emotion and not enough rational thought.

  3. ‘ Our politics is a master class in cynicism’ we could enlarge that to all politics. Remember in a battle ground the opponents use whatever comes to hand to make their desired outcome and the opposing side cries foul play. We behave more like children than we think ; the toddler uses his tantrum to get his way. As a general rule when the troops are rallied and the battle dust subsides those at the bottom of the pyramid take the biggest beating.

  4. First of all I was not answering you, but you took it upon yourself to answer. Secondly, I am not complaining about 41 years ago if you actually read what I said, I made it clear that 41 years ago when the vote was to enter the Common Market, people got on with it unlike the sour attitude of the Remainder refusing to accept a Democratic Vote. Am I correct in thinking that England, the UK is still a Democratic Country – although it becomes more obvious one has to watch every word that comes out of one’s mouth.

    1. Anna – with something as far reaching as this it should not come down to straightforward majority. There should be a greater margin than that. To take union action one has to get more than 50% of everyone in the union. That would mean 50% of all people eligible to vote. The vote was extremely close and nowhere near 50% of the eligible vote. Democracy has many options and takes many forms. This referendum was put together to suit the Tory Party and keep the right-wing nutters sweet for the general election. Cameron and Osborn were supremely complacent and stupid. They put the whole future of the country in jeopardy for their own ambition. Now those nutters are calling the shots and the country is in dire straits. The referendum should have been devised much better and fought with reasoned argument and not lies. Now as the facts emerge that it is becoming clearer that it is not in the interests of the country. It would be foolish to continue down a path to ruin. It should go to another vote.

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