There’s no doubt that British politics has become incredibly polarised, with the divisions over Brexit being the prime example. However it’s always important to remember that the most vocal on either side of the polar divide actually represent relatively tiny factions of the British public as a whole.
The Brextremists relentlessly pushing for a “no deal” socio-economic meltdown (so they can cash in by speculating against Britai when the crash they engineered happens) are obviously a bunch of raving headbangers, many of whom were deeply involved in the staggeringly dishonest and unlawfully funded Leave campaign in 2016.
I don’t think I really need to go into much more detail about how much everyone should detest the hard-right Brextremists.
On the other polar opposite of Brexit the extremism is no less severe. Any hint of criticism of the EU (no matter how deserving or justifiable) and certain pro-EU factions will savage you online. And woe betide anyone who supports Jeremy Corbyn because the hatred the Remain extremists have for him is seemingly the only thing that outweighs their opposition to Brexit.
Just take the Tory Remain icon Anna Soubry as an example. This is a woman who openly admits that she’d rather enforce a ruinous Brexit under Tory rule than have “no Brexit” under Labour rule, yet the #FBPE Remainer echo chamber still absolutely adores her and hangs on her every word.
Instead of tackling the Tory government head on in order to ensure Theresa May’s appalling threat to launch a ruinous Tory “no deal” Brexit is removed from the table for good, an awful lot of Remain extremists seem to divide their efforts between pivoting Tory criticism onto Jeremy Corbyn, and demanding “another referendum now”.
Remain extremists pivoting criticism away from the Tories and onto Corbyn is appallingly self-defeating stuff from their own perspective because they’ll absolutely need to convince the majority of the Labour left to side with them if they want to have any chance of winning a second referendum (especially given the vast campaigning power Labour have built up under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership). So their tactic of associating an atrocious and constant barrage of anti-Corbyn, anti-Labour, anti-left misinformation, abuse, and lies with the Remain camp is clearly massively and ridiculously counter-productive.
But then the “another referendum now” demand is even more problematic because another referendum now does absolutely nothing to deal with any of the underlying problems that caused Brexit in the first place, and leaving the Tories in power as another referendum happened would obviously play right into the hands of the “no deal” Brextremists.
The threat of “no deal”
Another referendum under Tory rule would clearly be a much riskier proposition that an referendum under a Labour or progressive coalition government, because to have the government actively pushing their awful Brexit plan and continually threatening “no deal” if they don’t get their own way would substantially increase the hyper-nationalist fervour, and risk delivering another Leave vote that would absolutely set Tory Brexit in stone, and massively increase the probability of them pushing ahead with a ruinous “no deal” meltdown.
Another reason that another Brexit vote under Tory rule could end up in complete disaster is that a second win for Leave with them in charge would obviously serve as a double-mandate for leaving the EU and destroy the possibility of ever stopping the Tories from driving on with their hard-right interpretation of Brexit (gutting wages and workers’ rights, slashing corporation and wealth taxes, scrapping food standards and consumer protections, reversing environmental legislation, and revoking our rights and liberties) whether that be through Theresa May’s hopelessly botched deal, or a “no deal” meltdown.
Another crucial factor is that the Tories have a huge incentive to hide the fact that failing public services, collapsing wages, ruined social welfare systems, soaring poverty, and collapsing living standards are all the result of their ideologically driven hard-right austerity agenda, and what better way to hide their guilt by passing blame off onto immigrants and the EU?
A Labour or progressive coalition government could at least try to explain to the British people that it was Tory austerity dogma that trashed their living standards over the last 8 years, not the EU, and that whatever the outcome of a second referendum the emphasis of all government policy would be switched from relentlessly serving interests of the mega-rich at the expense of everyone else like the Tories did, to protecting the living standards of the poor and ordinary.
The risk of a second referendum creating a double-mandate for Brexit obviously wouldn’t be stopped by a Labour or progressive coalition government because the government simply can’t control the way the public chose to vote (otherwise we wouldn’t be in this mess at all would we?).
However at least a non-Tory government could deliver a much less harmful version of Brexit if that’s what the people vote for again.
Just witness the way the Tories spent the last 8 years deliberately loading the economic burden of paying for the bankers’ insolvency crisis onto the poorest and most vulnerable people in society (as they simultaneously showered the mega-rich speculator class who created the crisis with tax cuts and handouts).
Does anyone honestly believe that a Tory government wouldn’t seek to load the economic burden of their own Brexit meltdown onto the poor and ordinary too in order to protect the wealth of the mega-rich class who totally bankroll their party?
At least a Labour or progressive coalition government could work to protect the most vulnerable people in society from the worst Brexit consequences if they ended up binding themselves into it by calling and losing a second Brexit referendum.
The Electoral Commission is woefully unfit for purpose and has been for years. Their bone-idle refusal to update the electoral rules to account for the rise of political propaganda on social media, their blind eye to extreme-right parties scamming donations out of gullible people, their whitewash of the 2015 Tory electoral fraud, the ever-growing barrage of political lies they do nothing to combat, fining electoral cheats a tiny fraction of the money they actually spent on vote rigging, and the extraordinary fact that they actively advised the Vote Leave campaign to break the electoral spending rules by funnelling excess donations through shell campaigns!
Nothing has changed. Nothing has been reformed. The same incompetent organisation is running the show.
So why on earth does it make sense to have another referendum under the same rules, and with the same incompetent clowns in charge? Surely the risks of a repeat show are obvious, especially since all the liars and lawbreakers totally got away with it last time!
Surely one of the first priorities of a new government would be electoral reforms to clamp down on election rigging, online dark ads, and deliberate lying, so offenders face the very real prospect of jail time rather than a tiny slap on the wrist?
The fantasy that everything is going to be fine as long as we get a second referendum right now is just as absurd as the unicornism of the Brexit voters who actually thought that the Brexit process would be quick and easy, and that it would result in a wonderful bonanza of extra NHS funding, lavish new trade deals, more jobs, more wealth, more prosperity!
A second referendum definitely does provide the possibility of escaping from Brexit, but then it creates an almost equal possibility of making it nailed-on 100% certain too.
And whatever the outcome of another referendum, if we don’t get rid of the Tories who created all this Brexit chaos in the first place, whatever the outcome we’re still stuck with austerity dogma, wage repression, deliberate under-investment, crumbling public services, malicious persecution of disabled people, and the rest of their callous ideologically driven nonsense.
Why the rush?
The desperate rush to secure a second referendum before March 29th was vaguely understandable before the European Court of Justice ruling that the UK parliament could unilaterally withdraw Article 50, because of the “ticking clock” aspect, but now it makes no sense at all.
The logical course of action is to make the argument that the unprecedented chaos Theresa May and the Tories have inflicted on parliament, the nation, and our European allies means we’re going to need more time to sort out the mess.
The logical plan would go something along the lines of: Revoke or extend Article 50. Call a General Election. Establish a new government. Put the Brexit issue to the people again. Then do as the people advise by either cancelling Brexit or going back to square one to try to do Brexit properly this time.
And by properly I mean that the Brexiteers must agree on an actual Brexit plan before the vote so everyone in Britain can read their proposals and there’s absolutely no ambiguity about what they’re promising in regards to stuff like single market access, the customs union, the Irish border, immigration, trade deals, workers’ rights, rights of EU citizens in the UK, environmental standards …
Letting them do it as a “make it up as we go along” farce again must be absolutely out of the question.
If Remain wins the UK gets to stay in the EU under the same conditions (according to the the terms of the ECJ Article 50 ruling they’re not allowed to punish us for inflicting this 30 month Tory farce on them), and if Leave wins the terms of their published Brexit proposals will be legally binding on the new government.
I’ll detest David Cameron for the rest of my living days for the way he recklessly gambled away the nation’s future solely in order to grub a few thousand votes off the ukippers in the 2015 General Election without even bothering to develop a contingency plan in case he somehow lost.
If the “People’s Vote” campaigners somehow manage to secure another referendum without taking care of the vital first step of removing the Tories first, then end up losing it, I’ll detest them with the same kind of passion.
If they gamble away the nations’ future simply because they were in such a rush that they didn’t even think to clear out the Tories who created the mess in the first place, they won’t be just as bad as Cameron, they’ll be worse.
For Cameron his gamble was just an abstract political feud between his super-privileged and out-of-touch Etonian and Bulligdon Club mates.
He never gave a shit about the living standards of “the lower orders”. He didn’t give a shit when he was punishing them with austerity dogma, so why on earth would he have given a shit about them when he gambled with the entire future of their nation?
The “another referendum now” campaigners have no such excuse. They’ve spent the last two years (quite rightly) worrying about the impact of Brexit on ordinary people’s lives, freedoms, and living standards, so none of them can pretend to be an ignorant, aloof, and out-of-touch toff like Cameron.
If they end up getting another referendum but losing it and setting a ruinous Tory Brexit in stone simply because they didn’t take the necessary step of removing the callous and incompetent Tories from power first, their gamble will be absolutely and totally unforgivable because they fully understood what the consequences would be if they screwed it up.
Another Angry Voice is a “Pay As You Feel” website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.