LibLink: Luisa Porritt MEP: Britain’s Democracy Gap

In an article for Politico, Deputy Leader of Britain’s Lib Dem MEPs Luisa Porritt argues that the behaviour of the British Government is damaging democracy in this country.

A British government that is threatening to march the country out of the European Union because it claims its institutions are “undemocratic” shut down its own country’s parliament last month. Prime Minister Boris Johnson uses incendiary language and accuses those who disagree with his Brexit policy of “terrible collaboration” with the EU.

Britain today is increasingly out of step with the basic principles of democracy it once would have championed.

The Brexiteers, ironically, decry the EU as undemocratic. That’s simply not true:

Compare that with what’s happening in Brussels. While my British parliamentary colleagues were shut out of their chamber against their will, members of the European Parliament have been pressing on with urgent issues.

The European Parliament is scrutinizing the incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s new team and has taken a strong stand against nominees with potential conflicts of interest. MEPs have also set an ambitious agenda to tackle the climate emergency and ensure that the EU’s member states uphold the rule of law — something our own government needs reminding of.

How far, she notes, we have fallen:

Once a trailblazer for the principles of open markets, human rights and the rule of law, the U.K. is now in danger of finding itself robbed of the right to moral leadership in all three areas. It is seeking divorce from the biggest market in the world, derogation from obligations on human rights and a “pick and mix” attitude to equality before the law.

Among my colleagues from around Europe, there is real and widespread concern for the state of our country, balanced only by optimism that Johnson may not be in office for long.

So what are Lib Dem MEPs doing?

That’s why our 16-strong group of Liberal Democrat MEPs is busy lobbying European leaders to accept an extension when the inevitable request arrives, as well as the longer-term work of creating legislation designed to bring about a fairer, more exclusive economy and protect our planet.

Sadly, if Johnson gets his way, we’ll find ourselves locked out of a powerful vehicle for change and relegated to looking in from the outside as a great democratic project moves forward without us. Seeing the turmoil swallowing Britain, I know where I’d rather be.

You can read her whole article here. 

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  • John Marriott 10th Oct '19 - 10:19am

    Wasn’t it none other than Dominic Cummings, who originally proposed TWO referendums on our continued EU membership? His reasoning was that the first would be a fairly straight forward In/Out with little explanation or campaigning beforehand. He argued that, if this initial testing of the water indicated a majority for Leave, the EU would then approach proper negotiations with a degree more of concern and offer the UK such a fantastic deal that the second and definitive referendum would be quite likely to reverse the decision of the first. You know, I reckon that there might have been a deal of sense in this strategy. A bit late now, though.

  • Thank you for this interesting report. I understand that our party does not decide what our country’s representatives on the Council of Ministers do, but would welcome information about the role of the Member states in decisions like extension of our membership, or joint action on climate change. We need to recognise that we need to build up positive support for our membership of the EU. We need the information to use in trying to build a support for our membership.

  • Richard Underhill. 10th Oct '19 - 12:51pm
    I remember attending a meeting in which Liberal MP Simon Hughes debated with Jonathon Porritt of the Ecology Party. Their views were very similar.

  • This is indeed rich, coming as it does from the Party that wants to hold another referendum in the hope that it would give a different result compared with the first referendum and if it produced the same result, you would treat it just like the first, i.e. ignore it.

  • Alex Macfie 10th Oct '19 - 4:52pm

    Is she related to Jonathon Porritt?

  • As someone who has voted twice for membership of the EU, I resent that those who want to leave us to the undemocratic system we have in this country without a democratic vote accuse me of being undemocratic. Of course I understand it because no one seems to want to face the reality that our country is failing. As part of the EU at least we would have a chance of turning things around thanks to being part of a democratic alliance.

  • Peter Hirst 11th Oct '19 - 1:09pm

    Democracy fundamentally is a system of governance where votes are held on particular issues and those with the most win. Then we have who votes, how representative they are and how free and informed the voting is. So anything forcing your view on others is undemocratic.

  • Peter, it would have been a first to have had a Referendum that gave the vote to the people most affected, instead of dis-enfranchising them. Taxpayers at least should be represented but 3 million were not.

    It would have also been good to have had the campaign offers to be checked by courts and any result thrown out if the promises were found to be inaccurate, as happened in Switzerland recently and would surely happen here given the shape shifting, lying fantasy on offer, which is not ever going to be on offer.

    Where are the 77 million Turks who were supposedly coming to the UK and could not be stopped after EU membership that we were told was “imminent”? Or the lying Red bus with the money free money offer and Cornish pasties waved in the air, forgetting that they are protected status foods under EU regulations?

    Then there was the £8m that Bank’s ex business partner said he did not remotely have available which definitely came through IoM territory illegally and probably from Russia.
    Or the Illegal mis-use of personal data via FB, the £800,000 illegal overspend or the illegal campaign collusion. The raid by Police was preceded by Leave deleting hundreds of names in emails.

    The High Court said that if the Ref. result had not been “advisory” it would have thrown it out. As it is, it is up to Parliament to throw it out or put it back to the people with a far better set of rules and conditions than the Internal Tory expediency for Cameron that it represented.

    Sensible countries have thresholds for major constitutional change because as public opinion inevitable shifts as events get difficult, a less than 1.9% margin each way will not sustain and it hasn’t. This year has 72 to 1 polls in favour of Remain and presently Remain has a lead of 6%, with the public in favour of a public say by around 2-1.

    The way EU citizens here and UK citizens abroad have been mistreated is absolutely scandalous and shameful. It is also losing valuable staff such as in the NHS who cannot be replaced any time soon.

  • There is nothing to “respect” about that awful brexit vote event, which has costs and losses running at £70bn, an 18% loss to the pound which has cost more money than all the decades of EEC/EU membership fees combined and loss of financial assets from the UK totalling an incredible £1.1 trillion. These figures dwarf the £350m figure, itself an exaggeration, much of which returned to the UK anyway.

    I am proud to be in a party which has led the way on opposing this perilous nonsense and could yet hammer the stake into Brexit’s dark heart.

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