In their 2010 election manifesto, the Lib Dems called for a national vote on Britain’s EU membership if and when there is a fundamental change in our relationship with the EU. Here is the LiBDem pledge in full:
“The European Union has evolved significantly since the last public vote on membership over thirty years ago. Liberal Democrats, therefore, remain committed to an in /out referendum the next time a British government signs up for fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU.”
This promise went far beyond the European Union Act 2011 which only made provision for a referendum to be held on specific proposed changes to the EU. The LibDem manifesto offered an in/out referendum rather than just a referendum on whatever would be the fundamental change.
The moral corruption of the Big Lies
Anyone who is not a remainer, whether or not they are fervent Brexiteers, can see that the remainers are engaged in barefaced lying. Worse, even the most fanatical remainers will understand in some part of their mind that they are telling lies.
Barring perhaps thorough going psychopaths, everyone will know the pain and discomfort which telling lies brings. Repeating a lie often and being psychologically bolstered by others telling the same lie may lessen the discomfort and even create a shadowy feeling that in some sense the lie is true. But the pain and discomfort is never lost because the liar, however self-deluding, knows somewhere in their mind that what they are saying is false and that others will know it is false.
The consequence of telling lies about an issue as great as Brexit is to poison political discourse generally because the two sides of the argument become unreservedly polarised.
Human nature being what it is, it is simply impossible for those who are not telling the lies to view those who are with anything other than anger and contempt, while those who are telling the lies are driven ever more from a position of argument to one of simple denial in which the absence of argument is defended more and more with abuse.
That is a toxic situation which could do lasting harm to the UK’s political culture as it will destroy trust in our whole system of government and in the general exercise of political power.
The dangerous strength of the remainers position
The remainers who continue to refuse to accept the verdict of the referendum are in a much stronger position than most leavers imagine. This is partly because both Houses of Parliament are remainer-dominated and partly because Theresa May’s remainer-dominated Cabinet is allowing her to systematically sabotage Brexit by her incontinent delaying tactics and her acceptance of what is as yet an indeterminate transition period.
The brutal truth is that if Parliament wishes to reject Brexit or to force through a Brexit in name only (Brino) it would have the power to do so because Parliament has a substantial majority of remainers.
The most potentially destructive of May’s concessions to remainers is her promise that Parliament will have a “meaningful say” over the deal which May presents to Parliament. After much to-ing and fro-ing between Lords and Commons an agreement has been reached that the Speaker will rule at the time of the debate on whether any government motion relating to the issue of Brexit can or cannot be amended. This might, for example, lead to amendments rejecting the deal, amendments sending the Government back to the EU with instructions to negotiate further or amendments forbidding the no-deal-trade-on-WTO-rules option.
It is true that the wording of Article 50 would suggest that the logical end of the two-year process without a deal with the EU would be for the UK simply to fall out of the EU. But there is also provision for the EU member states to agree (unanimously) that the negotiating period be extended indefinitely.
This would appeal to the irreconcilable remainers because apart from delay making the leaving process more and more etiolated. It would also give the remainers ample opportunity to keep pushing for either remaining in the EU or for a second referendum. Time is truly the remainers’ friend and the Brexiteers enemy.
But there is a much simpler and comprehensive option for unscrupulous remainers to engineer. That is for May to produce a deal with the EU which is Brexit in name only. Because both Houses of Parliament are dominated by remainers, Parliament could accept such a deal and legally-speaking there would be no way of stopping its implementation.
Consequently, it is imperative that leavers do not to imagine that the UK will inevitably leave the EU. Constant vigilance must be the leaver watchwords.
Treason and the irreconcilable remainers
At the beginning of the post-referendum debate many leavers might have been willing to allow that remainers generally were honest in their beliefs which they held because of what they perceived to be in the national interest. No longer is such a view tenable when it comes to the irreconcilable remainers because of their naked attempts to overthrow Brexit.
If treason has any meaning today then those who are trying to overthrow Brexit are committing treason for they are effectively treating with the enemy in their attempt to thwart the referendum verdict. So let Brexiteers give such people their true name: Traitor.