The ongoing saga that is Brexit may seem distant to some of us here in the United States. News of the latest British capitulation to the ever-expanding political monolith that is the European Union sporadically trickles across our airwaves, but soon crumbles beneath the weight of a frantic news cycle. However, what’s currently unfolding in the United Kingdom should require the attention of everyone who values freedom and fears the creeping threat of authoritarianism.
As the most recent departure date from the E.U. of October 31st fast approached, it seemed like the slog towards Brexit was almost complete. Unfortunately, there has been a continued attempt to undermine the referendum result at every stage by a class of globalist political elites, buoyed by a vocal and petulant minority that has refused to accept reality. Sound familiar?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the most recent occupant of the seemingly cursed No. 10 Downing Street, was defeated twice by the House of Commons this week. The first defeat came after opposition members of Parliament (MPs) and Conservative Party rebels voted 327 to 299 in favor of a bill that would block a no-deal Brexit. If passed, Boris Johnson would be forced to “ask” the European Union for yet another deal negotiation extension beyond October 31st. In response, Johnson attempted to push for a new general election, but MPs turned down his motion — with Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn stating that his party would support Johnson’s call for a new general election once the bill blocking a no-deal Brexit passed.
Now, it is fair to argue that binary referenda aren’t the most effective or positive way of achieving policy changes in a representative democracy. They enable the political evasion of responsibility by punting impactful decisions to the populace, with politicians claiming credit for success and blaming the public for failure. They are also divisive by definition, with the societal impact of Brexit often compared to the vicious aftermath of the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. Regardless, the very foundation of a democratic system is that the decisions made by the voters are respected by those who have been elected as their representatives. The referendum result of June 23rd, 2016 was clear, with 17.4 million people voting to leave the European Union — a gargantuan bureaucracy that has grown far beyond the economic-centric “European Community” that Britons had supported in their last relevant referendum of 1975.
Despite it being a duty bestowed upon the British political class to act in accordance with the will of the people, every method of satisfactory departure from the European Union has been intentionally blockaded by those who have no respect for the referendum result — or for democracy itself. As a final insult, the refusal to hold a general election before officially preventing a no-deal Brexit is simply an attempt to delay Brexit indefinitely.
The reason for this is that “no-deal” is the only remaining way for Britain to leave the E.U. The only deal supported by the E.U. is the disastrous “Withdrawal Agreement” negotiated by former Prime Minister Theresa May, which has been rejected on multiple occasions by the House of Commons. With a no-deal Brexit taken off the table, we are left with two equally unacceptable outcomes.
- Without facing the threat of crashing out of the E.U., the prime minister will be handed the impossible task of negotiating with the European Union without any meaningful leverage. This will mean that the E.U. can keep the U.K. trapped as the parties fail to negotiate, forcing Britain to beg for extension after extension. Result: U.K. stays in the E.U.
- As the deadly combination of impatience and apathy grows among the British public, the government will finally adopt Theresa May’s absurd “Withdrawal Agreement” out of an exhausted desire to “do something” and escape the never-ending chaos of Brexit. Result: U.K. effectively stays in the E.U.
Because “no-deal” is the only way that the United Kingdom will ever achieve the result demanded by its 2016 national referendum, it is the final obstacle for hordes of “Remainers” who have decreed a “no-deal” Brexit an apocalyptic disaster that must be avoided at all costs. Combined with the refusal of many politicians who support “no-deal” to respect the intelligence and resilience of the British public by acknowledging the non-disastrous but realistically negative impact of “no-deal,” “no-deal” supporters are seemingly handing the reins of control to the minority. As a result, the only exit from the bureaucratic maze of perpetual servitude to the E.U. is being closed. When this door closes, these politicians may have achieved their desired result, but they will have failed to honor the fundamental principles of democracy.
There are multiple similarities between the societal impact of Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As we approach another election in 2020, Brexit should stand as a warning to the threats of those in the U.S. who hope to undermine democracy. We must remember that politicians, at their core, are our servants.
If we allow ourselves to forget that elected officials work for us, then we will enable a growing class of opportunistic politicians who seek to tighten their authoritarian grip on our lives. Brexit is forcefully revealing the true nature of many such politicians. With that in mind, if you care about liberty, then you must care about Brexit.