Monday, 27 June 2016

'Leave' and the 'Democratic Deficit'?

by Les May
LAST Thursday, Martin McGuinness, deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, wrote an article in the Irish Times advocating that the UK should remain in the EU.  But, he suggested, something must be done to address the 'democratic deficit'.  That's politician speak for the notion that politicians are out of step with their electorate.  It's also used by some right wing Tory politicians to mean that remaining in the EU means they cannot just ignore legislation protecting working people and the environment.

Both the Labour and the Tory parties face their own internal 'democratic deficit'.  At the last count twelve Labour MPs had been sacked or resigned from the Shadow Cabinet because they were dissatisfied with Jeremy Corbyn as leader.  The fact that Corbyn sacked Benn could be taken as a sign of strength not weakness.  He could do it because he knew that if it came to another leadership election in all probability party members would re-elect him.  For the moment quite a lot of Labour MPs seem to be out of step with the party members.  And if some of those MPs find themselves facing reselection it's no use whinging (verb: complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way).

The Tories have their own problems.  The alliance between Gove and Johnson may not hold if Gove concludes that Johnson did not really expect the Leave campaign to win and only supported it to destabilise Cameron and so improve his own chances of being PM.  If Johnson does win the leadership contest and succeeds in becoming PM he will have the task of convincing the estimated two-thirds of Tory MPs who want to remain in the EU that they should vote for the legislation which will be needed to initiate the withdrawal process.  The general consensus seems to be that at the last election older people were more likely to vote Tory and in the Referendum they were more likely to vote 'Leave'.  Not supporting the legislation needed to actually leave the EU could put these Tory MPs at odds with the people who voted for them.

There could be an awful lot of abstentions by MPs from both parties when (if?)  it comes to a vote in Parliament.

The 'Metro' link above refers to the material below which was posted as a comment on a Guardian website a few days ago:  

'If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost. Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron.
'With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership.


'Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor.

'And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legislation to be torn up and rewritten ... the list grew and grew.

'The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction.

'The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50?

Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?

'Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-maneouvered and check-mated.

'If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over - Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession ... broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act.

'The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice.

'When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was "never". When Michael Gove went on and on about "informal negotiations" ... why? why not the formal ones straight away? ... he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take.

'All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.'  

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