Delaying Brexit plays into EU's anti-democratic hands
The EU has a sordid track record of anti-democratic practices in France, the Netherlands, Ireland, and elsewhere. Extending Brexit would simply play into their anti-democratic hands
Time and time again citizens of countries within the EU have tried to have their say on EU matters, only to have their voices shouted down and rejected by the political elite.
This is the case whether in the form of politicians and the EU ignoring the vote, or there being another vote forced upon the population until they vote in the way the EU prefers.
The EU of course has its favourite lines of argument which it will use again and again in order to try and get their own way. One of the best examples of this is the 2005 referendum in France on adopting a European Constitution. The French people resoundingly voted against the move by a margin of 55% to 45%; supposedly this was going keep the European Project at a standstill for over 10 years.
Yet what happened was that things progressed, with the result trodden into the mud. The EU soon passed the Lisbon Treaty in 2007 - a document which was a mirror of the European Constitution, this time without a referendum. The EU and the political class simply didn’t want to listen to the voices of the people.
Aside from this abject betrayal, one of the more interesting factors to come out of this referendum was the campaign afterwards, by many prominent promoters of the European project, to just ignore the result and implement the constitution. One of these was none other than Michel Barnier, the current European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union. Many of the arguments were almost identical to what we see today:
1. It was only a partial rejection.
2. Insulting the voters
3. The referendum wasn’t legally binding
4. We must continue in spite of the result
5. The vote was for other reasons besides rejection of the EU
6. Rejecting the treaty is too complicated
7. This makes it harder to defend our interests in Europe.
These are all very familiar to anyone who has campaigned for the UK to leave the EU, but while it may be entertaining to hear old arguments, we all know these arguments are simply not valid.
What is even more worrying is that these EU tactics worked in France - something we cannot allow to happen to the UK. The danger is that within the Withdrawal Agreement there is the proposed transition period of 2 years, as well as the Backstop, which could tie us inside of the EU almost indefinitely, and subject us to the laws of the EU, with no representation on how these laws are made.
The longer we wait to properly Leave the EU the more likely it is the EU will try to revoke the vote to Leave or simply try to trap us within new legislation which gets around the systems which were set up and rejected by the Great British Public.
In view of Michel Barnier’s involvement in both of these situations, how on earth can the UK go forward with the backstop or the transition period without risking the EU simoly playing the same old anti-democratic games?
Now, with Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement defeated for a second time - by a margin of 149 votes - and with the Motion for No Deal in any form rejected by Parliament, there seem to be few options left to Parliament and the British people. One of these could be a delay to Brexit for goodness knows how long, until we can come to an agreement with the EU which Parliament might eventually accept.
This is an unlikely outcome given the extreme Remain-biased Parliament still in place. MPs - such as Dominic Grieve - would vote against any deal presented to them out of sheer intransigence towards the very idea of Brexit.
This option of delay is exactly what opens the door to the arguments made by the EU being repeated, as well as the potential for the EU to once again override the democratic will of a nation's citizens to get what the EU wants.
The Government now needs to have faith in the global opportunities available to us in the future, and the potential for the UK to Get Britain Out of the EU on the 29th of March on World Trade Organisation terms.
Regardless of indicative votes in Parliament, the past cannot be allowed to repeat itself.
What makes Britain great is our commitment to democracy and freedom. If this issue is kicked down the road even further the British Parliament and the democratic system would simply become the laughing stock of the international community.
Joshua Mackenzie-Lawrie is a Research Executive for the cross-party grassroots campaign Get Britain Out
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