Opinion: The Fallacy of a ‘Democratic’ People’s Vote

James Hardy – Year 12 Student

City Square. Leeds town centre.25th of August. This momentous day played host to a dazzling pastiche of blue and gold EU flags and placards demanding a “People’s Vote Now”. In the wake of the Prime Minister’s decision to prorogue Parliament, the  crowd of ‘Remoaners’ felt energised, and the atmosphere reverberated with chants of “Stop the coup” – although unfortunately the British Army’s hostile takeover of Government had passed me by – and “This is what democracy looks like”. But let us be frank, it isn’t. It is in no way democratic for the mandate given to Parliament by 17,410,742 people, to leave the European Union, to be disregarded and seen as void.

Democracy is when the ruling body acts on the wishes of the majority, and irrespective of how marginal their defeat may be, the minority accept this. Why is this the case? Because in functioning democracies we believe in the intrinsic necessity for equality in political representation, irrespective of social status or wealth – in summary ‘one man one vote’ – to produce a leader or figurehead, who embodies the wishes of the majority.  And this leads us to the crux of the issue; advocates of a ‘people’s vote’ are antidemocratic. Irrespective of the potential benefits or harms of Brexit, as a participant of a functioning democracy one must accept the result of the 2016 Referendum.

However, in order to justify their actions, Remainers would have us believe that the result is null. On BBC Radio 4 I’ve even heard the Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, describe the referendum as “advisory” and not binding. The fact we’ve reached a position in which the political establishment is willing, and attempting, to renege on the democratic exercise it offered to the people, is seriously concerning. It marks a severe breach of trust with voters, and compounds the sense that the elite feel the public voted for the wrong option, and thus should vote again to make the correct choice. 

Indeed, it has been argued that another referendum is due, seeing as the cold harsh reality of Brexit has set in; that there is an overwhelming majority who would now back remain. But is this really the case? The Conservatives have a convincing lead in the polls with 37% (streaks ahead of Labour’s 24%) and this lead is growing – they have picked up a sizeable 5% of voters since the 20th of September. Furthermore, irrespective of the polling evidence, there must be sound justification for a ‘people’s vote’. For a second referendum to occur, there must be a quantifiable reason why the first result was invalid – and disliking the outcome doesn’t count. I can’t stand here and say neither side played underhand with their referendum campaigns, because it is evident that they did, but this doesn’t render the result invalid. It is incredibly short-sighted to believe that the entire success of the campaign hinged on a falsified figure about potential future NHS funding – the Brexit debate was and still is a multi-faceted issue.

And so here we are, it is the 27th of October, and we finally have a Brexit deal accepted by Parliament, and yet the timetabling was spitefully rejected. It really does beggar belief. Irrespective of the consequences, it is a democratic imperative that Brexit occurs. For goodness sake, just accept it and move on.

James Hardy

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