Campaign to reverse UK's Brexit vote an affront to democracy
On June 6, 1975, British voters backed the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Economic Community. This was the first nationwide referendum in the country, and the majority of voters backed membership of the common market. I was one of those who voted to leave.
I didn’t like the result of the referendum and I was disappointed, but as a democrat I accepted that it was the decision of the people. Labour MP Tony Benn, an anti-marketeer, said: “When the British people speak, everyone, including members of Parliament, should tremble before their decision and that’s certainly the spirit with which I accept the result of the referendum.”
Forty years on, the European Economic Community has developed into the European Union, and if the promoters of the “European project” get their way it will evolve into a United States of Europe. That is the eventual aim of the European project, and it is something to which I am profoundly opposed.
Earlier this year we had another referendum, this time on the European Union. Once again I voted to leave, but this time the Leave argument won the day.
Moreover, we were told by the Government that the decision would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and that the wishes of the people would be honoured.
However, there are some people who want to undo the decision, even before it has been implemented, and we have had petitions and protests demanding that the decision be set aside. People have a democratic right to support the European Union, but not to subvert a nationwide referendum.
Tony Blair joined the chorus, calling on the Prime Minister to “keep our options open” and hinting at another referendum.
His former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, also advised Theresa May to tell the EU that although the British people had voted to leave, “you would like to explore the possible terms on which we might stay”.
That is the sort of contempt for the British people that encouraged so many to vote leave in spite of all the dire threats.
It was Henry Ford who said of his motor cars, “You can have any colour you want so long as it’s black”. Some of these anti-democrats are saying, “You can have any decision you want so long as it’s remain, and if need be you’ll vote again until you do vote remain”.
Meanwhile, others are running to the courts to subvert the will of the British people and to prevent the Government triggering Brexit.
Thankfully and reassuringly, Theresa May has declared that Brexit means Brexit.
In England a so-called “people’s challenge” is being led by Grahame Pigney, who was unable to vote in the June referendum. That was because he left England some years ago and moved to France. However, he has not allowed that to stop him fronting legal action.
As a result of the referendum, the EU has lost the democratic consent of the British people.
Instead of trying to subvert the referendum result, remainers should accept the democratic decision, even though they may not like it, just as 40 years ago others of us had to accept and live with a democratic decision we did not like.
One of the features of the referendum campaign was the George Osborne narrative of impending disaster if Britain voted to leave. The past few months have exposed that narrative and there are some encouraging signs as regards the service industry, construction and other sectors of the British economy.
Every time I walk out of the front door of Belfast City Hall I look up at the Robinson and Cleaver building opposite. It was completed in 1888 and around it there is a series of sculptures representing the many countries with which they traded. For too long the UK mindset has been dominated and confined by the European Union.
There is a whole big world out there beyond the EU.