The Mancunion

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Remain voters need to scrutinise Brexiteers like me

A well-planned exit from the EU is reliant on all voters continuing to voice their concerns


If, unlike me, you voted Remain on June the 23rd, you might have encountered some hostility since the referendum. The Brexiteers have come up with a new line: anyone who voted to remain and stands by their opinion is an effete, moaning, unpatriotic, metropolitan liberal, to whom we should pay no notice. This is ridiculous. Many prominent Leave voters, including Nigel Farage, said that they would not be content in accepting the result if Britain voted to remain. You can be sure that if we had voted to remain, there would be cries of an establishment stitch-up and calls for a second referendum (as was the case after the Scottish Referendum).

One of the main arguments that convinced me to vote to Leave was the lack of democracy in the European Union. Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the European Commission) and his cronies, it seemed to me, were and are completely unaccountable to the British (or indeed European) electorate. There is no vote in which we can remove him, and he gives little thought to what the people he governs think of him.

The reason why the Westminster system is so much better than the EU system is that its politicians are scared of the people they represent. If your Local MP is an expenses cheat or does not turn up to parliament, they will likely be removed by their constituents in a General Election. When newspapers such as The Daily Mail make jibes at anyone who is still angry about the vote to Leave, they undermine a key reason for why so many people voted to leave — it is important that decisions taken by politicians can be criticised by the British people.

Democracy does not work if the opposition are expected to not oppose the government. As Ken Clarke (a Conservative MP for Rushcliffe, who supported Remain) said on Question Time: “When a party loses an election, they do not go to parliament and accept that the winning party was right about everything. I don’t think many Labour voters would be happy if, after having lost the election in 2015, Ed Miliband had gone into parliament and accepted that the Tories were right about austerity, tuition fees, and zero-hour contracts”.

Those making the foolish argument that Remainers should keep their traps shut about the dangers of leaving the European Union set a dangerous precedent. They think it would be better if those who hold the majority view remain immune from criticism. Think the weakening of the pound is a bad thing? Be quiet. Think that Brexit will lead to workers’ rights being eroded? Shut up.

I voted Leave with the understanding that if Brexit was a complete disaster — though I do not think it will be — I would have to shoulder a portion of the blame. Likewise, if we had voted to remain in the European Union I would have been first to criticise Remainers if, as I suspect it will, the EU continues in its ways, such as the forcing of austerity upon the poorest people on the block, or retaining protectionist barriers that are detrimental to farmers and workers in Africa.

The people who voted Remain, who are still firm in their belief that Britain should stay inside the European Union, or the single-market, or whatever it is, must not shut up. Liam Fox, Boris Johnson, and David Davis might well make a mess of Brexit. If they do, you ought to be the first to say so, because a functioning and healthy democracy is reliant on the fact that the electorate will be able to sniff out a dodgy deal, or a promise that has not been delivered on.

The public voted to Leave and now that the referendum is over that is what we must do. But, as Remain-voting MPs have become fond of saying, we did not vote on what kind of Brexit we wanted. Contrary to what some people think, we did not vote for the official Vote Leave campaign. We did not vote for Boris Johnson or Michael Gove. We simply voted to leave. And many of those who voted to leave, me included, certainly do not have much sympathy with some of the plans of the current government.

I rely on Remain voters to keep the Conservative government in check and to ensure that Brexit is not a disaster. If it is, ordinary British people will suffer. More importantly, I will have egg on my face.

  • Bob

    Naturally, people feel strongly about Brexit, because it’s the constitutional issue of the century.

    The Brexit process requires nerves of steel just to be a bystander — all the more so because France and Germany both have elections in 2017, and that means the true French and German positions on Brexit won’t be known until 2018. Until those elections are over, everything the French and Germans say or do about Brexit will be done with an eye to a domestic political audience.

    After the elections, France may not have a socialist government anymore, and Germany may have a different coalition. So Brexit requires nerves of steel.

  • Keith

    At last, a Brexiteer with a brain. This gives me faith that there may be many more like you Sam.

    My only teservation with guys your opinion about the democracy of the EU Commission and in particular the president. However, that may be for another discussion.

    You are the kind of person I would love to sit down with and talk about the in/out issue of the EU. You are reasoned and sensible. I would never try to,dissuade you from your decision but I would try to confirm my own beliefs in balanced and respectful debate. Something that is sadly unavailable on most social media sites.

    Nonetheless, I thank you for giving me faith in the British people again.

    I sincerely hope they are many more like you because, in or out, we have some trying times ahead of us.

  • plasticm

    “[Jean-Claude Juncker] gives little thought to what the people he governs think of him”. Says who? You? I’d be interested to know how you back up that authoritative sounding statement?

    As for how he got his job? He was nominated and then ELECTED (see that word?) in 2014 by members of the European Parliament, who in turn were elected by residents of the member states; people like you and I. This was after Juncker was the longest-serving head of any national government in the EU (in Luxembourg). The man knows what it means to represent and serve.

    It should also be noted that he is only the president of the European Commission, which is one of seven of the “institutions” of the EU. The EC just proposes legislation. It is then up to (ELECTED) MEPs in the European Parliament, along with ministers from the member states (including heads of state) to debate and pass (or fail) that legislation.

    The EU is incredibly democratic. Member states choose how to elect
    their own MEPs, but, like many others, the UK does so through a system of
    proportional representation. Far more democratic than the two-party
    first-past-the-post sham of a democratic process we have in the UK.

    None of this is simple, but we can’t really expect it to be. Uniting the various nations of Europe to try and agree on legislating the incredibly important issues which affect us all collectively* was never going to be simple. But I wonder how many of the rabid Brexiteers even attempted to understand what the EU is, or does, or how it does it. I wonder how many of them had even bothered to vote in EU elections before they howled about how undemocratic it was. I did, did you? Maybe you did. I know many UK voters complained about having to register to vote to leave, so they had clearly never voted for anything at all previously. And then they complained about a lack of democracy. Hollow words.

    *A few issues which affect us collectively:
    Climate Change
    Human Rights
    Air Pollution
    International Markets
    Not having wars with each other

    – with the best will in the world we can’t solve something like climate change on our own as a nation. Why is that so hard to understand? Did you see how gutted environmental charities were after the referendum? This is a huge backwards step. The EU has never really told us how to run our internal affairs. Never told us what to do with the NHS (for instance) – we’re wrecking that all by ourselves. But we need to be represented in international circles and to have a say in those forums. That’s what you’ve deprived us of, with your advisory referendum result. So thanks. If, as Keith thinks, you really are a bit brighter than the average brexiteer perhaps you’ll understand the harm you’ve done one day.