Alex (yakshaver) wrote,
Alex
yakshaver

Brexit

There've been plenty of nights in my life when I lay in bed unable to get to sleep for four or six hours because my mind was racing in circles. But I'm pretty sure that never until Friday was what set my mind racing the results of an election.

I had been blithely assuming that not a sufficient proportion of Britons were fools for Brexit to pass. And that my British friends' fears were overblown.

Boy was I wrong. And what kept me up past 03:00 is that I have no reason to believe that a smaller proportion of Americans are fools.


A question for my British friends: As I understand the British Constitution, Parliament is sovereign. And Brexit was a referendum. I should think that a major advantage of such a system over mob rule democracy would be that wiser heads can prevail.

So as I understand it, Parliment could essentially say We asked you, the British people, to advise us as to whether the nation should slit its throat. You have voted in favor of the razor. Thank you for your opinion. We will give it all the consideration it deserves. And do our jobs and save you from your own foolishness.

Am I wrong? Or am I technically correct, but neither the Tories nor Labour would have the political courage?


(The one occasion of this sort of thing that I know of — though I'm sure there must be many others — is Sweden, when Parliment voted to change the side of the road they drive on from left to right, contrary to a national referendum in which the people voted overwhelmingly against the change. Sweden survived — indeed, thrived — and I doubt many Swedes today think their grandparents' reluctance to switch much differently than they think of their own childrens' reluctance to eat brussels-sprouts.)

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  • 6 comments

rlcarr

June 26 2016, 22:29:57 UTC 10 months ago Edited:  June 26 2016, 22:30:19 UTC

Parliament could have chosen to make this a binding referendum. It did not. So yes, this is advisory-only.

In theory, there is nothing stopping Cameron or a future PM from never invoking Article 50 and starting the process.

In theory, there is nothing stopping Parliament from calling a new general election, some party/coalition campaigning on not leaving, and then if that party/coalition wins a majority, say they take the election mandate as cancelling the Brexit mandate and thus not proceeding.
Ah. That last seems like it would be the best outcome. Britain went out for a pint, got pissed, and woke up going "I did what? Can I take it back?
Nobody can force Parliament to abide by the vote. That would be true even if it were binding.

That said, every time a country chooses to just flat-out ignore the result of a popular vote, it seriously damages the idea that voting is a mechanism whereby the populace participates in or selects its own government.

A lot of things depend on that idea. There are consequences to destroying it.
Until article 50 is invoked, we remain in the EU. With the Prime Minister resigning there is no one to push the button. We may not get a replacement until October, and as this replacement would be unelected, they might have to call a General Election before they can push the button. That could take another year.

Smoke and mirrors, in the meantime, the UK willbe permenantly damaged. Most UK economy money is made by the finance sector and they are already moving to Europe.

We're going to be poorer or very much poorer as there's no guarantee they'll pull the plug on this national suicide.
Yes, essentially - but it's becoming increasingly clear over the last few days that no one has any idea what to do now and no one who actually *wants* to trigger article 50 is going to be in a position to do so for months. It's become equally clear that no one knows how the European side will react - whether this will serve to harden European attitudes toward the rules, and guarantee a nasty divorce, or whether someone will crop up who can actually work with the British government (who after all *really* does *NOT* want to leave) and negotiate the structural changes that the EU needs, in time to quiet the demagogues and save the Union. Signs so far are not promising, especially since the only thing that would convince a lot of people is for Europe to undo the damage it has done to Greece.

In the meantime, we wait, and it descends further into a farcical paralysis.