This was tweeted at me yesterday evening, in response to an initial tweet from me despairing that a Prime Minister chosen by only 199 people was now trying to dictate what Brexit actually was, yet wanting to deny Parliament a say.
As Ian Hislop eloquently said on BBC’s Question Time, losing a vote doesn’t mean you have to stop campaigning. Yet this now appears to be the Tory line. The arrogance of power?
Like most people, my own views on the EU are nuanced. I see huge inefficiencies and a detachment from the electorate. There is a feeling, undeniably stoked by the tabloids, that this remoteness leads to unnecessary dictats. I see this related to Westminster too – and, to some extent, my local council. But the EU just seems bigger, less accountable, more alien – we don’t understand it.
On the flip-side, business has an open door to over 500 million people, and Brits have freedom to move, live and work anywhere within the EU (and some other associated countries). My own business had about a third of its revenues come from outside the UK in the last 12 months. This doesn’t seem to do much for those who can’t access this through poverty, economic or other.
My own decision to vote Remain was primarily influenced by two things. Firstly, and from personal experience, you never reform something by walking away from it. Secondly, the UK was (and is) so obviously unprepared to leave, that to do so in the terms threatened seemed foolish.
As the government ministers’ meeting yesterday showed, government still has no real idea what Brexit means in reality. David Allen Green has written in the Financial Times about how there’s a lot of political will, but no information about how any of this will actually work.
The political landscape has changed. We have the result of a vote to deal with. I wrote shortly after the result how there seemed to be no good routes from here. But the idea that, by continuing to campaign against Brexit, you’re simply in denial and should shut up and be a good girl, is actually repellent.
To give one example, trans women fought for the right to marry as women for a number of years. The first three court European Court judgements went against them. It was the fourth that was won, and created the requirement for laws to be changed. This Tory argument applied here should mean that trans women should simply have shut up after the first defeat. They should have “dealt with it”.
If you believe that something is wrong, you campaign to change it. Telling people otherwise is a subversion of democracy. Let me know when there’s a viable alternative to the EU. Until that point, I will stick to my view that leaving the EU is a bad option, damaging to this country in all sorts of ways, and will fight to see that decision reversed in some democratic way.
The same for other fights. A move back to selective education on the basis of raw academic achievement at the age of 10 is wrong. The current first-past-the-post system of elections is wrong. The way public services have been stripped to the detriment of those who can least afford it is wrong. The switch back to carbon-based fuels is wrong. The Conservatives are promoting all these wrong policies, and claim they have a mandate to do so, but just because they happened to win the general election (with 37% of the vote) shouldn’t and doesn’t stop people campaigning against them.
Maybe it’s the arrogance of power?