Despite repeatedly stating that the United Kingdom would fulfill the democratic decision of the British people and leave the European Union on October 31st, Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to have become the latest victim of the combined weight of internal British political sabotage and a monolithic European bureaucracy.
When Parliament passed the EU Withdrawal (No. 2) Act, known as the “Benn Act,” Boris Johnson’s government was forced to work to stop a “no-deal Brexit” on October 31st. Earlier today, as the latest departure date loomed, European leaders agreed to yet another extension — this time to January 31st, 2020.
EU Council President Donald Tusk ironically dubbed this a “flextension” (because seemingly every Brexit-related failure deserves its own portmanteau), stating that the United Kingdom could leave before this ever-expanding deadline if the British Parliament were to approve a Brexit deal. However, the likelihood of reaching such agreement is absurdly small, given that Parliament has voted to reject every deal put forward by former Prime Minister Theresa May and her successor, Boris Johnson.
In an attempt to break this mind-numbing deadlock, Boris Johnson has been calling for a general election in a bid to consolidate more support in Parliament for some form of departure from the European Union. After calling for a general election for several years, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has scuppered every attempt to actually hold such an election. This leaves the United Kingdom in a perpetual state of inaction and, more importantly, as a continued member of the European Union.
While Brexit might seem complicated, it is actually depressingly simple. The European Union and the British political class are now conspiring to ignore the voice of the British people and, as a result, are rejecting the fundamental premise of democracy itself. It should also be noted that, while they are intentionally failing in their governmental duties, the elite British political class is applying a careful combination of strategies in order to achieve its goal of remaining subjugant to the unchecked, faceless, and widely undemocratic web of European bureaucracy.
The European Union, like any other pseudo-authoritarian system, works along a different timeline than does the voting population. During any form of democratic process, voters are constantly presented with choices which are promised to result in immediate or short-term impact. The Brexit referendum of 2016 was no different. After waiting over three years for any progress, the British population is unsurprisingly frustrated with the continued failure of the political class.
As frustration grows, apathy will also grow regarding the type of Brexit that is achieved. Achieving any form of change becomes more attractive than the continued failure to deliver the original objective. As apathy grows, the voices of those calling for a so-called “people’s vote,” or even the open rejection of Brexit itself, become more legitimate. Such frustration and apathy is being leveraged with the goal of erasing Brexit from the pages of history.
The legacy of British democracy is languishing due to the crushing refusal to respect the voice of the British populace. Every delay to Brexit is another rejection of the foundational expectation of basic democracy, where the result of a vote is implemented as directed by the majority of the population. We should pray that neither apathy nor frustration, fueled by an elitist political class that holds little respect for its duty as elected representatives, results in an ultimate capitulation to the European Union.
If the British government fails to deliver Brexit — whether through a “no-deal” departure or a withdrawal agreement that achieves true sovereignty for the United Kingdom — then democracy will have died in the U.K. It won’t die with violence. It’ll die with an exhausted sigh, as the very spirit of Britain collapses between the determined claws of the European Union.