Brexit or democracy?

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Brexit or democracy?

The current Brexit situation raises the simple question of whether the ‘Brexit emotion’ is really more important than democracy and sovereignty. A People’s Vote would settle that question as it is almost inconceivable that Brexit could become the opposite of democracy without such democratic consent, says Johannes de Jong.

Given circumstances, I don’t think that I can shock a conservative audience more than the sitting Conservative PM. So let me start by suggesting that it is time Brexit supporters consider supporting a People’s Vote. As director of a European political think tank I take the EU angle when looking to Brexit. From an EU perspective this is now the most obvious thing to do. Before you quit reading, just give me a chance to explain how I arrived at this conclusion.

What if Wales would want and get the opportunity to declare independence? What if tedious negotiations between Cardiff and London would arrive at the following result: Wales would continue to adopt all legislation from Westminster but no longer have MPs in the Commons. The Welsh people would likely demand another referendum to prevent a huge loss of democracy in the name of ‘independence’.

From an EU perspective the UK is facing the same at the moment. The May Deal already posed this challenge and any softer form of Brexit even more so. The difference is that in the May Deal this lack of democracy was meant for an undefined period of time, while in any softer Brexit (especially of the Labour type) it will be so for an indefinitive period.

If I am correct in this, the people who voted for Brexit probably did not vote to lose completely their democratic voice over legislation. The UK seems to be on a path to give up it’s say over legislation that will be imposed on the UK irrespective of what the UK thinks. This would mean that Brexit becomes the very opposite of democracy and sovereignty. How could such a result ever be explained to people if this were to become reality?

In talking to a colleague in a like-minded think-tank in Norway, it became pretty clear to me that the Norwegians really don’t like having to adopt EU legislation without any say over it, but they accept it in the name of their very significant fisheries and oil industries. For the UK however there will be no similar upside if it ends up in the same place.

As an EU Member State, the UK has a very significant place on the table in the Council and a strong delegation in the European Parliament as well as a guaranteed strong position in the Commission. Furthermore, the House of Commons can have influence on EU legislation as well. Seen from Brussels therefore a soft/Labour type of Brexit means a huge loss of democratic influence.

It is  surely almost inconceivable that the House of Commons would sign off on such a huge loss of democratic influence for the UK electorate without asking them if that is really what they wanted from Brexit. It is clear that ‘Brexit’ has become a very emotive slogan that stands for many feelings. Nevertheless t the current situation raises the simple question whether the ‘Brexit emotion’ is really more important than democracy and sovereignty. A People’s Vote would settle that question as it is almost inconceivable that Brexit could become the opposite of democracy without such democratic consent.

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    Johannes de Jong
    Johannes de Jong is director of Sallux since 2011. His specific focus has been on aspects of economics, geopolitics and international relations that are often overlooked. He has been following Brexit developments closely since the referendum was called. Sallux is the political foundation of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM, a Pan-European political party). ECPM & Sallux aim to reform the EU in accordance with its original values.
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