The democratic case for resolving Brexit

Since  the 2016 referendum, we Lib Dems have been slightly on the back foot about the democratic implication of having a new people’s vote. I firmly believe that, had the matter not been put to the public in 2016, the government would have said some time in 2017 or 2018, ‘OK folks, Brexit was an interesting idea, but it’s clearly not going to work so let’s abandon it and stay in the EU.’ But because the people did vote, and they chose by a small but clear margin to leave, the whole principle of democracy appears to be undermined if we ask the people a second time.

Actually the opposite is the case – the case against having a confirmatory people’s vote is the undemocratic one. This conclusion is based around three core arguments:

1. The vote in June 2016 was based on a Leave campaign that was a blank canvas. There was no vision for how we would leave or for which variation of leaving. If you go back to the referendum debate, you’ll find advocates of Leave ranged from the anti-everything-that-begins-with-‘Euro’ brigade to very mild Leavers who wanted the UK to stay in the internal market and the customs union but not to be members of the club. That’s why when a Leaver screams ‘This isn’t what we voted for in 2016,’ it’s founded on nothing but their own perception of what they were voting for. Given that the margin of victory was less than 52-48, the only plausible mandate from the 2016 referendum is for a Brexit that involves staying in the internal market and customs union.

2. The Leave campaign cheated. This has been proven, the campaign has been fined £70,000 (and Arron Banks’ company has been fined more than that for data abuses related to the Leave campaign), and it is not appealing. Moreover, a professor of psephology told the High Court that the extent of the advantage Leave gained by cheating could have affected the overall result. If you have a public vote and one side cheats significantly, the result cannot be considered reliable, certainly not reliable enough to provide a mandate for the UK to leave the economic and legal bloc it has been a member of for 44 years.

3. The culture of British society has rethinks embedded in it. I’m not talking about the fact that we have general elections at least every five years so if we don’t like a decision we make at one election, we can change it at the next (though that is relevant). I’m thinking of all sorts of situations in everyday life, such as:

  • if you put in an offer on a house and your surveyor or solicitor discovers something that affects the basis of your offer, you’re fully entitled to modify or withdraw your offer;
  • if members of a trade union vote to demand a specific pay increase but management only offers a smaller increase, the union members must by law have a second vote on whether the lower offer is acceptable;
  • if a company tries to take over another company, the shareholders of the company being taken over vote on whether its management should open talks with the predator, and if it does, the shareholders get a second vote on whether to accept the negotiated offer;
  • if a medic is treating a patient, he/she needs the patient’s consent, and if anything emerges in the course of treatment that alters the basis of that consent, the medic must go back to the patient (if possible) and reaffirm that consent.

In other words, the idea that we have a referendum based on a blank canvas for one side, that side wins, and we then don’t put the final outcome back to the people, is actually totally undemocratic. Therefore the argument that having a second vote would undermine democracy is illogical.

The most democratic thing now would be for the deal Theresa May has negotiated with the EU to be put to the British people alongside remaining in the EU. That would respect the 2016 referendum, because the May/EU deal – whatever Parliament thinks of it – is the direct outcome of the result of that referendum, but it needs to be confirmed as the will of the people. (One might stipulate that Remain has to poll 52% to win in order for it to overturn Leave’s margin of victory from 2016 – that would add a level of complication to the result, but it would recognise the legitimacy, cheating or not, of the 2016 vote.)

Yes a new vote would be divisive, but everything in Brexit is. There will be Leavers who will cry ‘betrayal’, but actually if they really do want to leave the EU and feel this is the will of the people, let the people prove that (and they might – Remain is not a guaranteed winner). And if we want to start the process of healing the divisions in society, any decision to leave has to start with a clear majority of the people, which the 2016 vote doesn’t give to anything more than the softest of soft Brexits.

* Chris Bowers was a two-term councillor on Lewes District Council and a co-editor of "The Alternative" which explored the idea of a progressive alliance.

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49 Comments

  • John Marriott 12th Apr '19 - 12:45pm

    You know what? (To borrow a favourite Faragism) Why don’t we have a break, like Parliament, from Brexit? It’s frankly driving me nuts. There are SO many important issues currently languishing in the long grass waiting to be dealt with, and I don’t just mean the Local or Euro Elections.

    Mr Bowers might have been a ‘two term councillor’; but, as a former 10+ term councillor, I can tell him that there are problems out there that only we can solve on these islands, which frankly have little to do with our membership of the EU.

    All this speculation about the way forward, will only elicit more responses from people like Peter Martin, whose furrow is now getting pretty deep and whose arguments in favour of Brexit appear to be convincing nobody on this forum to change their minds.

    Oh, and don’t put all your faith in another Referendum to sort things out. The Brexit genie has been let well and truly out of the bottle. Putting him back will take more than passion, facts, speculation or, in some cases, sarcasm.

  • Richard O'Neill 12th Apr '19 - 3:25pm

    If the first referendum is anything to go by there is little chance of a fresh one offering resolution or unity. Parliament has deadlocked enforcing the result of the first, there is absolutely no garuntee the same thing would not happen over the second.

    Beyond that there is
    no consensus on what the question should be. Might it exclude No Deal or Remain or both? I see months of wrangling over that alone.

    I think it appeals most to those on the extremes who seem to relish this sort of culture war going on around Brexit. For the rest of us it is just more division and misery.

  • This would useful if being written for the cabinet. We really need to know what the party should do now. The first priority in my opinion is to get out to the rest of the country what the European Union can and can’t do. We need to make it clear, for example, that that the changes made since we first voted on Europe have all been agreed by the U.K. Government. And of course we need to spread an objective assessment of having a democratic element to an international treaty.
    The country would also benefit if we had a public discussion of the rôle of and rules for referendums. We might be faced with them in the near future in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. It would make sense to have agreed rules like who can call them, what thresholds if any are needed, what happens if the rules are broken, and so on.

  • Just a couple of thoughts
    The greatest selling point of Brexit was it was a blank canvas. If you wished to embrace Brexit (or Lexit ot what ever exit you wanted) you could project your hopes and fears onto the canvas and with a happy skip and whistle go and vote for it. Only afterwards when reality intruded and it started to become apparent that your own personal Brexit/Lexit was not on offer did you need to do mental gymnastics to support Brexit, because after committing to an exit, saying you where wrong was not an option to all but a minority.
    It is impossible to put the evils released back into the box ( or even a very large bottle). Brexit released much harm into the body politic and society in general. It is tempted to say released but perhaps a better metaphor is exposed. These ills existed before but hid in dark corners and under stones, certainly they shunned the light of polite conversation, but Brexit emboldened them and now they do not converse they shriek. How to push these ills back to the dark corners and back under slime encrusted stones, only be battering them through facts, education and a commitment to care about people will they be vanquished. That I am afraid is not a five minute fix, it will take decades.

    As to the charge of sarcasm being used, I can only say mea culpa but then bad ideas deserve nothing but scorn, for without out it how would we know we have gone wrong. Bad ideas have consequences, it is better they are pointed out rather than leave people unaware of what people think and the damage they do. Truth is painful but is required, being nice strangely enough is not.

  • Richard O Neill
    People generally want the matter resolved and I reckon that will polarise matters one or the other, therefore the result will be decisive, what way I do not know.

  • Peter Martin 12th Apr '19 - 4:22pm

    @ Chris,

    “The most democratic thing now would be for the deal Theresa May has negotiated with the EU to be put to the British people alongside remaining in the EU.”

    I’m sure you can think of a something even more democratic. You don’t actually want that though.

    But this ‘choice’ won’t solve anything. If there is one thing that does unite both remainers and leavers it is that Mrs May’s deal is not an acceptable option. The leave side won’t participate.

    You’d be better saving on the costs of a pseudo-referendum and just going for a revokation of Art50.

  • Dilettante Eye 12th Apr '19 - 7:14pm

    There is a democratic deficit in the EU structures, which was effectively baked-into-cake at its inception. For what it’s worth I don’t see this as an act of malevolence on the part of the EEC as it was.
    Nevertheless, how do you explain this power ‘drift’, from elected to unelected to a staunch remainer?
    I can but try?
    A brilliant idea in 1950, from by Frenchman Robert Schuman that getting post war European countries who have a propensity to war with each other, to instead manage and trade resources together, would reduce the likelihood of war being their first go-to option for conflict resolution.

    This insightful idea by Robert Schuman, was born as The European Coal and Steel Community. This body (ECSC), which gave oversight to the co-ordination of Iron and Coal production in Northern Europe, was effectively a Quango. A Quango is a body of people who have been given the authority by a government(s) to hold the competency over a particular area of society, or resources.
    Important Note :
    A Quango, holds its authority by virtue of its appointed-ness, rather than its elected-ness.

    A Quango (appointed ~ not elected), to undertake the competence, of looking over Iron &Coal production, can naturally have more administrative ‘space’ to also look after other common European competences. Competences can cover many hundreds of common areas of European interest. Typically:
    ~ The cleanliness of drinking water ~ The standards of food production ~ The management of air traffic…..
    …. Are just three examples amongst hundreds.
    This vast list of competences, were (over 40 years), added to the original Quango’s (To Do list), initially set up primarily to oversee Iron & Coal production.
    Core point :
    So, a European Quango, which was appointed around 1950 and not elected, got handed hundreds of competences (of oversight), by elected European governments over the 40 years, from its EEC beginnings to an EU, as of today

    ………………………….

  • Dilettante Eye 12th Apr '19 - 7:16pm

    Part Two …..

    Under normal circumstances, this myriad of competences are handled by our elected government, and we democratically elect, our government(s) to look after all those (competency areas), of our lives for the common good. Crucially, if our government of the day get it wrong, our democracy ensures that we can sack that government, and hire a new government
    Thus – Voters (the governed), have a (ballot) connectivity, with their governors’, and voters who have democratic control of their government are (in the main!), happy voters.

    Now we face the defining question.
    How many competences = sovereignty?
    If an unelected (but legal) European Quango, has been handed (by 40 years of elected governments), the responsibility of oversight over dozens of common competences across Europe, it can be argued that that, unelected EU Quango, has acquired (by stealth), more authority over our lives, than our elected governments?
    The dilemma is, does it matter?

    …………………………………..>

  • Dilettante Eye 12th Apr '19 - 7:17pm

    Part three

    If you need clean drinking water to high standards across Europe, it is perfectly reasonable to give that competency to an unelected body of oversight.
    But are all competencies are equal?
    Oversight of clean drinking water is one thing, but is it reasonable to shift the myriad of competencies such as,.. national security, immigration, fiscal budgetary management, previously held by your elected (and sack-able!) government, to an innocent (but unelected !), Quango born in the 1950s?

    So Brexit or Remain?.
    We have handed incrementally, over 40 years a vast array of authority i.e. competencies, for the running of our lives, from the elected domain, to the appointed domain.
    For Remainers, it seems that no amount of competencies handed to the EU is considered problematic. Such faith is admirable but unsustainable.
    For Leavers, a point arrives, when you consider that control over your lives (i.e. sovereignty), has passed a point of no return. For Leavers, too many of the important competencies, have been handed from the democratically sack-able domain, to the appointed EU Quango domain
    For many Leavers that point of sovereignty-loss arrived in 1992, under the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. For Leavers who have lost trust in the system, Take Back Control, ~ is not just a slogan, it is an absolute necessity.
    Leavers are not the fools portrayed, we know what we voted for, and we simply see our access to real (Hire n Fire), sovereignty differently.

  • chris moore 12th Apr '19 - 7:27pm

    May’s deal has certainly taken flak from all sides, Peter.

    But much of the flak is unjustified.

    For Leavers, it means we would be immediately out of the political institutions of the EU, the many associate bodies and the single market. We would still in be the Customs’ Unión, till a comprehensive free trade agreement is arranged with the EU. Both sides say this is their intention. In my view, such an agreement would happen.

    Unfortunately, some Leave politicians have such a skewed and negative and totally unrealistic view of Europe – the Evil Empire, we will be a vassal state for ever etc- that they can’t accept this degree of deferred gratification, because they believe Europe will never let us go, for its own evil ends.

    Remain politicians don’t like May’s deal precisely because it means we’re out of the EU.

    To my mind – a Remainer who thinks we should get on with Leaving with mínimum damage possible – it’s a much better option than a No-Deal Brexit, which would cause considerable economic and poltical harm (and discredit Brexit, by the way). Even better would be leaving but remaining in the Customs’ Unión permanently.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Apr '19 - 8:30pm

    “a professor of psephology told the High Court that the extent of the advantage Leave gained by cheating could have affected the overall result”
    Source details please: this argument is important.
    Please also add the details about Boris Johnson. IPSO ordered the Daily Telegraph to print a correction after finding a column by the MP was inaccurate. The Telegraph had or dered it was “clearly comically polemical”.

  • There was a lot of inaccurate information from the remain side in the referendum campaign too. Cameron said it could lead to war and genocide, Osborne said mass unemployment and recession, Carney a collapse of sterling. This would happen immediately after voting to leave. Well none of these things happened, that is a fact. Funny how remainers never mention this when complaining about the “lies” told during the referendum campaign. In fact it was when Cameron used the word genocide that I decided to vote leave, I thought if that is the best argument for remaining that they can come up with then they really are desperate. And no I haven’t regretted my decision for one second 🙂

  • Martin,
    So you voted leave because you didn’t like something Gidieon said, well at least you are not claiming you voted for a plan, a degree of honesty but rather begs the question what did you think you would get?

  • Dear Frankie: I am so glad you asked me what I thought I would get because it gives me the opportunity to tell you. One thing I wanted was decisions made by directly elected representatives not appointed bureaucrats. Another was goods, services and labour provided at a local self sustainable level. I wanted a local self supporting economy not controlled by multinational global corporations, be they American or Chinese. I believed, and still do, that the only way this can be achieved is by championing the re-establishment of a sovereign United Kingdom.

  • Martin 🙂 12th Apr '19 - 9:47pm

    Dear Frankie: I am so glad you asked me what I thought I would get because it gives me the opportunity to tell you. One thing I wanted was decisions made by directly elected representatives not appointed bureaucrats. Another was goods, services and labour provided at a local self sustainable level. I wanted a local self supporting economy not controlled by multinational global corporations, be they American or Chinese. I believed, and still do, that the only way this can be achieved is by championing the re-establishment of a sovereign United Kingdom.

  • Martin Hodder 12th Apr '19 - 10:00pm

    Dear Frankie, I didn’t understand the “Gideon” reference, I hope it isn’t something anti-semitic? ☹️

  • George Osborne was born in Paddington, London,[1] as Gideon Oliver Osborne;[2] he decided when he was 13 to be known by the additional first name of ‘George’.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Osborne
    It would appear it is not uncommon for Tories to use more plebian names (man of the people shtick), bit like call me Dave; forgive me if I don’t pander to that cuddly lie.

    To Martin so you wish to retreat from the world. Unfortunately a not uncommon Brexiteer approach to the complexity of the modern world. You wish for us to turn away from moderanity and to return to a world of small inward facing villages, ignoring the world and concentrating on being substainable. The Japanese tried this approach in the Edo period, it actually worked for a couple of centuries till the American fleet under Perry kicked their front door in. Unfortunately for you, the world turns much faster, try your isolationist approach and you’d be lucky to last a few months before your front door got blasted off its hinges.
    I’m afraid I’m still waiting for a viable Brexit plan, the closed anyone has got is unicorns and faries, most of the rest are let’s turn back time or in Martin’s case let’s just leave the reality of this world and enter a realm of fantasy. I will again point out to them, you don’t get your personal Brexit or Lexit or Fantsyexit, you get the Brexit you are given and you have no chance it will be based on what you thought you had voted for.

  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Osborne
    His real name isn’t George tis Gidieon, but that doesn’t sound as plebian( man of the people) as George now does it. I think I’ll use his real name rather than fall for the cuddly George, because cuddly he is not.

  • Arnold Kiel 13th Apr '19 - 6:19am

    Dilettante Eye,

    The EU Parliament passes all EU-law -just like in the UK
    The Council of Ministers is composed of elected heads of state or ministers of all countries – the European equivalent of a Government: they set the EU agenda and initiate legislation. In order to preserve nation states’ sovereignty and supremacy, mostly by consensus.
    The appointed (by democratically elected member-state Governments) Commission administers the EU – just like Whitehall. It acts as briefed by the council, subject to a parliamentary majority.

    All EU competencies were put there via the above-described, entirely democratic processes.

    Where is the democratic deficit?

    If you don’t like certain European policies (I’d be surprised if you could name any), vote for an MEP and MP who shares your view. If enough voters across Europe agree, the policy will change. That is democracy.

  • Arnold Kiel 13th Apr '19 - 8:00am

    Chris Bowers,

    there are two types of leavers in Parliament: the ones, mostly Conservative, who cherish the success of conning around 16 Million poor souls (the other 1.4 believe to be real beneficiaries) into voting against their interests. They are fully aware of the validity of your arguments and therefore double down. They cannot be won over, only beaten. The other, smaller group, mostly Labour, but also some Conservatives, feel that it is easier to pretend the referendum yielded a legitimate democratic result than to openly follow your arguments. Our hope is that they find their courage.

  • Dilettante Eye 13th Apr '19 - 8:33am

    Arnold
    Thank you for your response.

    I guess it comes down to the person on the podium. Whether it’s Trump, Trudeau, Merkel, or May, the common denominator is that they all faced their electorate prior to getting to the podium. More importantly, they will face their electorate again ?
    If their electorate does not approve of what they do or say from the podium, their time on the podium would be cut short.

    It has been said many times that unlike those elected leaders above, JC Juncker is a civil servant. If that is the case, I ask why is a civil servant on the podium, in front of the world’s cameras?

    Whilst Trump is not everyone’s favourite, it cannot be denied that he travelled during the campaign period, from state to state to face his electorate, and speak to them with his ‘manifesto’, and crucially, ask for their votes.

    Most remainers (and even leavers), consider that the EU is in dire need of radical reform. And this democratic deficit is part of that much needed radical reform.
    The person on the EU podium should not be an internally government appointed civil servant, but someone who is motivated by the approval of their electorate.

    From the perspective of voters across Europe, this EU Quango system of government, has no ‘telemetry’.

    Ironically, if the first (and much needed), radical reform of the EU, were to install some democratic ‘telemetry’, it might in future have some legitimacy, even to the point of turning some of us leavers, into returners?

    Happy to converse more later, but I’m running late to get to my train from Bolton to Birmingham, for a special event.

  • Peter Martin 13th Apr '19 - 8:43am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “If you don’t like certain European policies……. vote for an MEP…. who shares your view. If enough voters across Europe agree, the policy will change.”

    Your previous comments have been indicative that this isn’t at all your view. You agree with Jean-Claude Juncker in the importance of not allowing too much democracy in the EU. Because what do the ordinary people know? They, largely, don’t have fancy degrees from prestigious European Universities. Whereas the EU apparatchiks do. There’s lots of sayings along the same lines fro JCJ.

    “If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue’,”

    In any case, the European Parliament doesn’t have the power to initiate its own legislation. There has been lots of discussion ( see below) but no real action. The European Parliament doesn’t even have the power to decide to be able to change the “no initiation” rule.

    https://www.debatingeurope.eu/2015/08/20/european-parliament-able-propose-legislation/#.XLGSVuhKjIU

  • Peter Martin 13th Apr '19 - 9:07am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “If you don’t like certain European policies (I’d be surprised if you could name any)……”

    I could name a few actually. But, the big one and the one that causes nearly all the trouble, even to the other countries like ourselves, is the use of the euro. How idiotic is the notion that all the countries of the EU can use the same currency? The take up is 19 so far. It’s about as stupid an idea as anyone can possibly conceive. It would have to come from a group of people who’d been highly brainwashed, sorry educated, in classical economics.

    It could possibly have worked a little better if the dominant economy in the EU hadn’t been Germany with its addiction to the running of large trade surpluses. For reasons which I can’t explain, the Germans really like the idea of swapping more goods and services for fewer goods and services and taking the IOUs of others to make up the difference.

    Hello! Don’t you realise that those IOUs are deficits and debts? The euros of the European Monetary Union are always going to end up in the surplus countries leaving the rest short and in debt due to having to borrow them back. So it’s really no great mystery why the EU and eurozone have the economic problems they do. It’s nothing an intelligent child of five can’t understand.

    Going through the European Parliament to get it reversed? Well you must be joking. The people of Europe didn’t vote for the euro in the first place. If they’d been allowed to they’d have almost certainly given the same answer as the Danes.

  • John Marriott 13th Apr '19 - 9:34am

    Wow, you chaps really DO like an argument, don’t you? Here’s something else to chew on.

    I notice that the arrow on the Brexit Party logo points to the right? Any significance? Besides my objecting to the shade of blue as a graduate of Cambridge University, my view would be the same as Will Self’s the other night, which nearly ended up in a punch up on Newsnight with Lance Corporal Francois, who completely misunderstood what Mr Self was asserting, namely that the only side that xenophobes and racists would be on would be Leave.

    I would not for one nanosecond infer that LDV’s ‘Leave’ contributors are in that bracket; but, if this assertion is true, doesn’t it make them feel a little uncomfortable?

  • Martin. EU decisions are made by two bodies. The council of ministers (sometime called the European Council when it is prime ministers and presidents) and the European Parliament. You really shouldn’t believe the myths about decisions being made by the commission. The commission is the civil service of the EU. It draws up proposals for legislation as requested by the Council of Ministers and the Parliament and it implements them when the lawmakers -the Council and the parliament – have made their decisions. This is exactly the same process as pertains in the UK where parliament makes laws and the civil service is responsible for drawing up proposals and ensuring they are implemented.
    So you already have your wish, within the EU.
    As for escaping from globalisation, environmental damage and cross border crime, how do you think that a small island off the coast of Belgium is going to manage to do this by itself? Within the EU we have police cooperation with shared databases, we tackle pollution right across the EU, we have shared medical services including isotopes, and we are part of the largest open single market in the world. You really are naive to believe that we can be self sustainable, desirable as that might be. We haven’t been for many hundreds of years, especially in food. Mrs Thatcher destroyed much of what was left of our manufacturing industry and that leaves us dependent on China and other countries.
    The real reason Rees Mogg, Johnson and others want to leave the EU is because that body has just started to try and ensure that multi national companies pay their taxes and the UK, which agreed to this measure, will have to stop our favourable tax treatment of multinationals.
    The EU has already shown it can have control over multinationals – eg the abolition of roaming charges and the huge reduction in mobile phone charges across the EU, forcing Microsoft to unbundle internet platforms from its operating software and much more – and that’s exactly what the rich Brexiteers don’t want.

  • Peter Martin 13th Apr '19 - 10:44am

    @John Marriott,

    As a graduate of Cambridge University I would have thought you might be acquainted with the logical fallacy of association.

    In your and Will Self’s case the essence of argument seems to be:

    X and Y thinks or does Z
    X and Y are bad people.
    Therefore Z must be incorrect.

    On the Brexit question, whichever way we vote we’d have to be voting the same way as some people we disapprove of. Tony Blair on the one side. Nigel Farage on the other.

    So we all have to just call it as we see it. I don’t particularly like Peter Mandelson. But I wouldn’t argue you should vote Leave just because he’s a Remainer.

  • “It has been said many times that unlike those elected leaders above, JC Juncker is a civil servant”

    Well it may have been said to death but like many a Brexiteer pronouncement tis a lie

    Jean-Claude Juncker is a Luxembourgish politician serving as President of the European Commission since 2014. From 1995 to 2013 he served as the 23rd Prime Minister of Luxembourg; from 1989 to 2009 he was also Minister for Finances.

    I find checking statements helps, they are often wrong and they are often lies.

  • John Marriott 13th Apr '19 - 10:58am

    @Peter Martin
    Come on, man, can’t you recognise my attempt at humour at the expense of the Light Blues? It’s obviously wasted on you. Seriously though, how many ‘xenophobes and racists’ can you identify in the Remain camp? If the answer is ‘none’, doesn’t that make you feel a tiny bit uncomfortable? It would me.

  • Peter Martin 13th Apr '19 - 11:00am

    @ Mick Taylor,

    “The EU has already shown it can have control over multinationals”

    So why does all Apple invoicing go via Ireland? The individual iphone is made in China and only a few are actually used in Ireland or even go anywhere near Ireland. Why do all ebay (UK) VAT payments to eBay (Luxembourg) ? There are lots of similar examples. Why does the EU allow its own tax havens of Lichtenstein , San Morino, Monaco, the Channel Islands.

    Yes I know that places like Monaco aren’t technically in the EU, but they are to all intents and purposes, and the EU can argue Gibraltar is the responsibility of the UK govt, but the EU has been in existence for a long time now and they could have moved to fix up these issues if they had really wanted to.

    The roaming issue is just a token step to make us think that the EU is taking on the multinationals. It’s neither here nor there compared to the total scale of the tax evasion problem.

  • Peter Martin 13th Apr '19 - 11:06am

    @ John Marriott,

    Obviously my attempts at explaining logical thought is wasted on you! Yes there are plenty of racists who support the EU too. It’s seen as one way of ensuring that immigration is not as ethnically diverse as it might otherwise be.

  • Dilettante Eye 13th Apr '19 - 11:12am

    Frankie
    Whether Juncker is a civil servant, or a temporarily borrowed Luxembourg politician, I’m still not clear where he got the democratic authority to speak from a podium, on behalf of UK citizens.
    Maybe my polling card got lost in the post?

    Hope this makes sense
    Text and trains don’t all ways mix.

  • Sue Sutherland 13th Apr '19 - 11:28am

    Interesting that we are getting frenetic attempts to show that the EU is just a bureaucracy when it looks as if we are about to have elections to the European Parliament.

  • Bless “why does the EU allow”, because it needs the member states to agree. Tis not a dictorship you know, well actually I don’t think you know that. The EU in the main requires conformotity of opinion, it certainly does when it comes to tax matters and smaller states like to retain their tax advantages, tis why the EU works so well for Eire.

    A little light reading for you
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-tax-reform-idUSKCN1Q11BA

    P.S why do you think Gidioen made such a song and dance about lowerring corporation tax, didn’t see the EU stopping that.

  • John Marriott 13th Apr '19 - 11:41am

    @Peter Martin
    You still don’t get it, do you? My attempt at humour I mean. Stop taking yourself so seriously for once.

    By the way, would anyone like to comment on Mr Martin’s statement that “there are plenty of racists who support the EU”? What I actually referred to was how many xenophobes and racists are in the UK Remain camp. I’m too old to be offended. What about the rest of you?

  • Innocent Bystander 13th Apr '19 - 11:42am

    frankie,
    “Well it may have been said to death but like many a Brexiteer pronouncement tis a lie”

    We can readily test this.
    Is his salary paid by the state of Luxembourg?
    In which case he would be a “Luxembourgish politician”.
    Or is his salary paid by the EU?
    In which case he works for them.

  • Mr Farages salary is paid by the EU does that mean he is an EU civil servant? I think at that point what ever point you thought you’d made Innocent Bystander would tend to dry up and blow away.

  • @frankie
    “The EU in the main requires conformotity of opinion”

    Isn’t the Liberal Democrat constitution against conformity?

  • Innocent Bystander 13th Apr '19 - 1:03pm

    Mr Farage is an elected politician. If he ever ceases to be an elected politician and becomes an employee of the EU his status would change. To that of EU civil servant.

  • Peter Martin 13th Apr '19 - 1:18pm

    @ John Marriott,

    I enjoy a joke as much as anyone but are we discussing racism in connection to the EU or are we having a laugh? I’m not sure we can do both.

    The idea that the EU is a bastion of racist free liberalism just doesn’t hold up. Yes we’ve quite a bit to go in achieving racial equality in the UK but I would say some of our continental friends are further behind. Google {Stormzy , Austria} for a recent example.

    Decades of globalization, deregulation, neoliberalist policies that have favoured the wealthy have left Britain a more unequal place, with vast regional disparities. It is these which have largely determined support for Leave and Remain. It has been the collective failure of supposedly progressive parties of the left to address the fundamentals which has had more influence than changed migration flows.

    The Brexit issue in the UK and Yellow vest protests in France are of a similar cause. I can’t see any change from the EU establishment and supporters in their approach. The only suggestion on offer is that they need to better explain the benefits of the EU to those who are obviously too stupid to figure it out for themselves.

    In other words the left have largely given up on trying to change anything for the better and have left any criticism of the EU to the far right. Naturally, the far right are only too happy to be allowed the opportunity.

  • Denis Mollison 13th Apr '19 - 2:47pm

    @Dilettante Eye – “I’m still not clear where he got the democratic authority to speak from a podium, on behalf of UK citizens. Maybe my polling card got lost in the post?”

    Juncker became President of the EU in the same way that Theresa May became Prime Minister after our 2017 election. He was announced in advance as the candidate of the EPP – the group of rightwing parties in the EU Parliament that our Conservatives used to belong to before they joined a more extreme grouping. If you didn’t know that at the time, you weren’t following the EU elections very closely. The EPP got most seats, and he was duly chosen as President. It was actually the first time this more democratic process was used, previously the President was chosen by the Council – i.e. an indirect democratic method.

    @Innocent Bystander – that Juncker’s salary is paid by the EU doesn’t make him an EU civil servant; Theresa May’s salary is paid from UK public funds – do you think that makes her a civil servant?

  • Arnold Kiel 13th Apr '19 - 2:53pm

    Dilettante Eye,

    it is a bit difficult to have a meaningful constitutional debate with someone who introduces “the person on the podium” and “in front of the world’s cameras” as a constitutional category. I therefore refrain.

    Peter Martin,

    it is indeed a blessing that EU decision making has to go through many filters, most notably: any member’s Government, the entirely logical reason behind the no-initiation rule. Strange that you, a leaver, criticise that the EU Parliament cannot act against any member-state.

  • Innocent Bystander 13th Apr '19 - 3:10pm

    Denis and frankie,
    I’m sorry. Juncker was not an elected member of the European Parliament, selected by his peers (as May was in the HoC). His status between 2013 and 2014 was “member of the public” subsequently employed by the EU.
    Throw as many elected politicians as you like, but in contrast to May et al he had no electoral mandate (unlike May and Farage). Mr D Eye is correct. He can have no other status than civil servant. What else could he be?
    It does little good to defend the dysfunctional process whereby he became President. On that basis it would be equally “democratic” if the Tory party were to use their majority to appoint anyone at all to be our Prime Minister. Tommy Robinson, Bob Geldof, Christopher Biggins or Ant and Dec (week and week about).
    I’m not saying they would necessarily be worse.

  • John Marriott 13th Apr '19 - 3:46pm

    @Peter Martin
    Let me try one more time to explain.

    Perhaps there is no significance in the arrow on the Brexit Party logo pointing to the right. However, those championing the cause would appear to be heading in that direction. Please spare us the diversion into racism in the EU, which undoubtedly exists but was not the point I was attempting to make.

    I happen to agree with Will Self’s comment on TV recently, which has clearly got Mr Francois and yourself so excited. I repeat. Can you really imagine a xenophobe or racist voting anything but Leave? That’s all I was saying. Nothing more and nothing less. If you are happy to be on the same side, that’s your choice.

  • Innocent Bystander 13th Apr '19 - 4:56pm

    ” This is not so different to how a candidate is selected in the USA.”

    This defence of the EU process for elevating a member of the public to role of President has now stepped into a Kafkaesque, surreal world.

    In 2016 135,500,034 voters cast their votes for a total of five candidates. I concede that Martin is quite correct. The Electoral College could have operated like the EU and instead of any of these appointed Kim Kardashian as POTUS47. I suppose that, too, would be officially democratic.

    I speak as a Remainer, but the belligerent and bellicose denial of the undeniable, the defence of the indefensible and a Remain campaign of pure threat and insult, with no positive or optimistic component at all, has led us into the mess in which we now are.

    By far the better way to have handled the calamity of the Referendum, would have been to work to find the least damaging compromise, with some negotiated option for an eventual return, one day. Then, with some sense of win-win for most people campaign for such a return with upbeat and not menacing messages.

  • The EU structure may not be perfect, but then nor is the UK’s, with its first past the post voting system and unelected Lords. However, the European Parliament is surely something to be celebrated. It’s the only parliament directly elected by voters across national borders, although sadly in the UK most of us are ignorant of the political groupings and of what gets debated there. I suspect that once we leave the EU, we will miss the multi-national participation if affords and there will be pressure to rejoin in some way. Remember when Thatcher abolished the Greater London Council, it wasn’t long before this tier of government had to be reinvented.

  • Peter Martin 13th Apr '19 - 5:47pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    No it shouldn’t appear strange. The kind of “Europe” that most in the UK would support corresponds to more or less what we had in EEC days in the 80s. In this model, there would be no real need for an EU Parliament. It would be better to have no Parliament at all than a toothless Parliament.

    So why have one? It’s a necessary step on the road to a United States of Europe which which will need its own Parliament. I can’t see that ever working in practice but unless it does then the EU is finished too. That’s where the EU train needs to go and that’s a good reason for getting off now while we still can

  • Peter Martin 13th Apr '19 - 5:54pm

    @ John Marriott,

    “Can you really imagine a xenophobe or racist voting anything but Leave?”

    Yes. In fact I don’t have to imagine anything. I’ve heard the argument myself. It goes that if we are going to have immigrants, we may as well have white immigrants from the EU than………..

  • The fundamental issue is that we don’t have a code for holding referenda so it is a free for all. The Brexit saga shows clearly that we need a codified constitution that determines when, how and why referenda are held. Referenda are part of direct democracy, not representative democracy.

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