I have never been happier to be proven wrong. I predicted in the first Referendum Watch in December that the result would be decisively in favour of remaining in the EU, on the normally safe assumption that big government, big money and big lies would win, as they invariably do. Alas, I fear, despite the historic vote, they still will.
The brazen dishonesty of the government and Remainers was expected, but the extent of it has been shocking nonetheless. The government’s electoral fraud of extending the voting registration deadline by two days to allow over a million overwhelmingly pro-Remain voters to register was a manoeuvre worthy of a banana republic, and one the European Commission must be proud of. Many of these new voters were students following the instructions of their vice-chancellors who had written to them to vote Remain. (UK universities have received over 900,000,000 euros from the EU since 2008; so much for universities being centres of independent thought and intellectual challenge.) The government then shamelessly made a virtue of this despotic manoeuvre: having wilfully broken the rules governing our democracy, they barefacedly claimed that this was in fact a democratic move.
The government cleverly and with breath-taking cynicism made the debate overwhelmingly about fabricated nightmare economics; the more important issues of democracy, sovereignty and geopolitical security were deliberately ignored. But nearly 17.5 million voters were not buying it. They had been hoodwinked too long by a self-serving, homogenised ruling elite and they said ‘Enough’.
Not that the establishment are likely to heed the will of the people. Alistair Campbell, mendacious spin doctor to the equally mendacious Blair, said in the early hours of Friday morning what a terrible mistake it was to allow the people to have their say in a referendum. Subtext: ‘My goodness – the plebs will be demanding democracy next’.
There remains a real and growing fear that the establishment will not fully accept the vote. Such moments as this are often followed by back-room compromises and stitch-ups that dilute and distort the popular mandate beyond recognition. And, as the SR’s editor has rightly warned, we may be forced to vote again until our betters deem we come up with the right response. (This, of course, is a standard weapon the EU deploys against any expressions of democratic will.) There is likely to be another few timid steps forward to Brexit followed by loss of nerve and rapid, embarrassing back-pedalling. We’re seeing that already from leading Brexiteer figures. An establishment stitch-up is a probable outcome. Numerous scenarios can be envisaged in which full Brexit is not implemented; one of them is likely to be played out.
I initially thought Vichy Dave Cameron did the right thing in delaying article 50, but increasingly it looks like a deliberate stalling ploy. It should either be invoked now or, perhaps even better, the 1972 European Communities Act should be repealed. But I very much doubt that parliament, being 70% pro-EU, would listen to the largest democratic mandate in UK history and agree to that. That wouldn’t do, would it? It seems that over 40 years of EEC/EU membership has irredeemably corrupted an already fragile democracy beyond cure. Democracy’s decline cannot be easily halted. The demagogues and dictators are lining up.
Depressingly, therefore, it seems that if some version of Brexit actually occurs, it will be regarded in history as simply a painful way for the UK to gain some concessions from the EU. We need a full Brexit; at best, what we’ll likely get is EU-lite. I have doubts that it will be worth all the hassle.
Many voters’ tolerance and forbearance have been stretched to breaking point. A majority has recognised and rejected Project Fear and the lies from those we should be able to trust but sensibly do not. Theirs has been a brave – indeed, a ballsy – decision. It will come at a financial cost for a while, but the reward can be a more democratic future for us and our children. Hopefully it will inspire Europe to achieve the same.