Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Brexit: Farce piled on top of Fiasco

Successful Politicians? 

farce (fars): noun: A comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.

I thought I'd join in the general political jamboree and "headless chicken" melee that erupted after the UK's Brexit vote. So, I decided to sign the petition for a second Brexit referendum.  Here's the circular reply I recently received (Note: The petition now has over 4.1 million signatures)

Dear Timothy V Reeves,
The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum”.
Government responded:
The European Union Referendum Act received Royal Assent in December 2015, receiving overwhelming support from Parliament. The Act did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout.
The EU Referendum Act received Royal Assent in December 2015. The Act was scrutinised and debated in Parliament during its passage and agreed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Act set out the terms under which the referendum would take place, including provisions for setting the date, franchise and the question that would appear on the ballot paper. The Act did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout.
As the Prime Minister made clear in his statement to the House of Commons on 27 June, the referendum was one of the biggest democratic exercises in British history with over 33 million people having their say. The Prime Minister and Government have been clear that this was a once in a generation vote and, as the Prime Minister has said, the decision must be respected. We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU and the Government is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people in the negotiations.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Click this link to view the response online:
This petition has over 100,000 signatures. The Petitions Committee will consider it for a debate. They can also gather further evidence and press the government for action.
The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee: https://petition.parliament.uk/help#petitions-committee
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament

My comments
1. This above doesn't say whether or not the outcome of the referendum is legally binding; they've evaded answering that one;  truthfully and explicitly answering that question would, of course, beg the question (See here)
2. The leadership that acted as the main player in securing a Brexit vote has collapsed and made an ignominious exit rather than take responsibility for the circumstances their actions have brought about. You might expect that out of a Brexit victory would come firm decisive leadership, but no, they were just demagogues who touted misleading information.  This doesn't inspire much confidence in the cause they promulgated.
3. Ironically the petition was set up by a Leave campaigner; its parameter thresholds  of a  >75% turnout and >60% majority were conceived in advance of the vote,  evidence of at least one Leave campaigners perception of what would constitute  a valid outcome; ergo, by his own rules the outcome is not sound. 
4.  I don't think it is contentious to claim that a large proportion of the Leave vote was based on crypto-xenophobia. Moreover many have expressed regret at their all too causal voting practice in favor of Brexit and would now vote Remain.

5. I'll concede that having a second referendum would certainly not feel like good democratic practice: It looks as though  we've made our bed and we're probably going to have to sleep on it. However, in what looks suspiciously like a flawed vote and a Brexit leadership collapse farce has been added to fiasco. I doubt if British democracy would be set back much by a second referendum. British democracy must be the laughing stock of the world already and it couldn't get much worse than it is.

6. One reason why I have favoured Remain  (and I admit this is a very personal and idiosyncratic reason) is not just because of the weight of economic opinion in favour of Remain, but because "Brexit" has a high frequency of conspiracy cranks in its ranks, from the loony left to the  raging right, through David Ike to the numerous fundamentalist christian sects. These people promote fantasy cloud-cuckoo-land ideologies that incorporate anti-EU theories. I personally have seen some of their thinking in operation at close quarters and have become very aware of their all too human foibles which in the case of the Christian fundamentalists often masquerade as spiritual authority. Consequently knowing what I do meant that I just couldn't bring myself to vote the same way!

To complete the story today I received the following email.

Dear Timothy V Reeves,
You recently signed the petition “EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum”:
The Petitions Committee has decided to schedule a House of Commons debate on this petition. The debate will take place on 5 September at 4.30pm in Westminster Hall, the second debating chamber of the House of Commons. The debate will be opened by Ian Blackford MP.
The Committee has decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs. The Petitions Committee would like to make clear that, in scheduling this debate, they are not supporting the call for a second referendum. The debate will allow MPs to put forward a range of views on behalf of their constituents. At the end of the debate, a Government Minister will respond to the points raised.
A debate in Westminster Hall does not have the power to change the law, and won’t end with the House of Commons deciding whether or not to have a second referendum. Moreover, the petition – which was opened on 25 May, well before the referendum – calls for the referendum rules to be changed. It is now too late for the rules to be changed retrospectively. It will be up to the Government to decide whether it wants to start the process of agreeing a new law for a second referendum.
The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs. It is independent from Government. You can find out more about the Committee on its website: http://www.parliament.uk/petitions-committee/role
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament

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