This article was first published in Moraymint Chatter and we re-publish with the kind permission of the author.
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In many ways the UK’s predicament is testament to the effectiveness of the European Union in emasculating nation states and exploiting the maxim of divide and rule; that’s precisely what a nascent superstate is supposed to do, and men like Michel Barnier have provided us with a masterclass in oligarchic power whilst leaving the British Prime Minister looking like some latter-day Uriah Heep.
Let’s summarise the path we’ve taken since 2015:
- The political class’s decision to hold the EU Referendum was carried overwhelmingly. Parliament showed itself to be very keen to delegate the decision about the UK’s membership of the European Union to the British people.
- The EU Referendum caused the highest ever percentage (72%) of the British electorate – 33,551,983 people – to turn out to vote, many adults having never voted in their lives before.
- The Referendum result itself was close, but clear. In any democracy a single vote will carry the day. In the EU Referendum, 1,269,501 votes carried the day; in other words, 8% more people voted Leave (17,410,742) than voted Remain (16,141,241). The collective voice of 17.4 million was eventually heard, muted for a generation by a failed parliamentary democracy.
- The political class’s decision to trigger Article 50 and deliver Brexit, with or without a Withdrawal Agreement, was carried overwhelmingly by Parliament. Furthermore, Prime Minister May’s Article 50 mantra was ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.
- The Conservative government put a deal, the Withdrawal Agreement to the House of Commons not once, but twice and on both occasions the Agreement was rejected overwhelmingly: it’s a ‘bad deal’, a very bad deal.
- Notwithstanding, Parliament told the government that it would not accept ‘No Deal’ as a negotiating outcome thereby paralysing totally the Brexit negotiating process.
- Unable to deliver on the decision of the British people in the EU Referendum that the UK should, by law, leave the EU on 29 March 2019, Prime Minister May was forced to beg the European Union for an extension to the Article 50 deadline just 8 days before the UK was supposed to leave the EU.
- The European Union has given the UK until the 22 May at the latest to get its act together.
So Where Does This Leave the Social Contract?
Referring back to my opening paragraphs and assuming that you’re a British voter, you and I are the hapless victims of what I assert to be the grotesque incompetence of the British political class, exacerbated by the ruthless intransigence of the European Union. You and I can do nothing about what has, in my opinion, become an unfolding abuse of British political and Establishment power, deliberately or by omission; either way, it doesn’t matter.
‘Keep people off balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defence. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realise your intentions it will be too late’
The Concise 48 Laws of Power: Law 3 | Conceal Your Intentions
Profile Books 2002
Assuming you’re a Brit, in June 2016 you and I were asked to exercise our democratic influence in the form of casting our votes in the EU Referendum. Dutifully, over 33 million of us did as requested and we each expressed our wish: either the UK should Remain in the EU or Leave the EU. A clear majority of us decided that the UK should leave the EU.
Almost 3 years later there is very little sign at all that the UK will in fact leave the European Union. There is pressure from the losing side for there to be another Referendum, known in Orwellian-speak as a ‘People’s Vote’; there is pressure from the losing side to delay the Article 50 process indefinitely, presumably in the hope that this would lead to the UK’s departure process eventually being terminated; there is pressure from the losing side to revoke the Article 50 process altogether now and, as an inevitable consequence, most certainly keep the UK inside the EU.
‘A Europe of nations is a relic of the past’
Member of the European Parliament
So, where does all this leave the social contract which might in many ways best be described using the words of US President Abraham Lincoln as ‘government of the people, for the people, by the people’? I can’t speak for you as a fellow Brit who might have voted in the EU Referendum. However, as far as I’m concerned, the British social contract has been breached. I kept my side of the bargain by voting in the EU Referendum. The British political class, on the other hand, has failed utterly to keep its side of the bargain. Not only have our politicians failed to extricate the UK from the European Union in a timely fashion, they seem to be within a whisker of being party to a sequence of events which could see the result of the EU Referendum nullified; of facilitating the UK’s continued membership of the European Union; of making a mockery of democracy.
The English philosopher, John Locke (1632 – 1704) took the view that the people consent to make over their influence to the state on condition that the state uses it for the common good. The people reserve the right to withdraw that consent if the state fails in its contractual duties. The forceful overthrow of the government by the people, by rebellion if necessary, remains a legitimate (albeit final) remedy.
For each party to honour its side of the social contract is the price of social order.
What If You Voted Remain?
Often I give some thought to those of my family, friends and fellow citizens who voted Remain in the EU Referendum. If I was you, what would I be thinking now? Well, despite the somewhat pessimistic tone of this post, I believe that in the end the UK will leave the EU. Quite when is anybody’s guess, but stuffing 17.4 million Brexit genies back into their bottles will not be possible in the longer term.
So, what the Remain cohort should do, in my opinion, is this. Assuming that you’ve not already changed your view from Remain to Leave (and some people whom I know have done this), then you should make the case for the UK being a fully-fledged member of the EU. Persuade the British people of the benefits of having the UK re-join the European Union; the benefits of governance of the United Kingdom by the de facto government of the EU, the European Commission; the benefits of membership of the euro currency union; the benefits of The Schengen Agreement and the abolition of national borders; the benefits of having the highest court in your society being a court in another land adhering to the Napoleonic code of law; the benefits of a European Army with British servicemen swearing their first allegiance to the President of the European Commission; the benefits of ceding once-and-for-all-time UK national sovereignty to a foreign institution and, to quote Kenneth Clarke MP, celebrate ‘the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber of Europe’. Rather than rearguard-fight the result of the EU Referendum of June 2016, fight instead the European Union cause of the future. I wish you all the best with that.