This is what you asked for, Britain

Let's talk about Brexit.

This is what you asked for, Britain

At the time of writing it has been 132 days since the country voted (by a far-from-overwhelming 3.9% margin) to leave the European Union.

I will preface this by saying I voted to remain, and wrote a piece lamenting the result of the vote here. Feel free to contribute to the hailstorm of abuse in the comments.

Since that vote the British pound has lost roughly 20% of its value against the US Dollar, and 15% against the Euro. The cost of certain foods have already started to rise, and companies like Microsoft, Apple, and British Airways have all increased prices to adjust for our currency devaluation. Racist abuse is on the rise and, to top it all off, Boris Johnson is now representing us on matters of foreign policy. It's fair to say, I think, that things could be going better.

Still, people argue that we as a nation are going to be better off, much stronger, and more free and independent once we leave. The markets seem to disagree, dipping whenever a hardline Brexit discussion takes place, and climbing when the proceedings seem to slow down. The Pound Sterling climbed a whole 1% yesterday when the Government lost their court battle to avoid a vote on Article 50 in Parliament - the highest growth since August.

It's this court case that I want to hone in on, because the outrage and fury from those who feel this betrays the referendum result are working on a flawed premise. Also, because I feel it important to throw my hat into the cacophony of informed opinion that will be promptly ignored.

Let's first lay out some facts about the referendum.

The referendum represents the will of the people. It is not law. It is not legally binding. It is advisory.

The High Court ruling has not overturned the advisory referendum result. The country still voted for Brexit. The Government is still promising to deliver Brexit. The Opposition and many of the Peers in the House of Lords have also promised not to block Brexit. Your self-sabotaging desires can still happen.

What the High Court has done, as is its legal right in the British system of law, (that same system that Brexit was meant to protect and enshrine) is prevent the Government from overstepping the line and acting beyond its constitutional remit. The ruling simply dictates that Parliament has to vote to trigger Article 50. We need this extra step because regardless of what deal we may secure in the two year negotiation period, once that time period is up, Britain has to leave the EU regardless. This will dramatically change British law, and our rights. We need to be certain.

This was the verdict from three of the most senior judges in the UK, who looked at precedent set as far back as 1915 - from before the EU was even glint in Robert Schuman's eye. This is not some ploy to block Brexit, it is merely following the law and convention that has guided this country for over 100 years. Law and convention that, after Brexit, we will have to respect even more.

Can Parliament block Brexit?

Based on this week's ruling, theoretically, yes. If enough MP's decide that they don't view triggering Article 50 to be in the interest of the country, they can do. That of course hinges on whether or not the Supreme Court overturns the ruling of the High Court, given that it is the highest court of appeal within the UK. I would be inclined to believe that it won't, meaning the process will have to involve Parliament.

Before you get into a panic though, it is unlikely that enough MP's will rebel to vote the movement down, because it could result in political career suicide. But let's not forget that if they do, it is still British politics at play - we live in a representative democracy, where we vote for MP's to decide law on our behalf. They are elected representatives, not like those 'unelected (but actually elected) bureaucrats' over in Brussels. Again, I also remind you the referendum was advisory, not binary.

The Media

I want to talk about the media response to that ruling. It feels wrong and offensive to even include the publication on this site, given their all too frequently inflammatory headlines, but take a look at the front page from the Daily Mail, and their original online offering.

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It is absolutely disgusting what has happened to this country post Brexit. The level of racist abuse has increased. Jingoism and supremacy has come out of the woodworks, feeling validated by an ill-informed and protest-esque vote to leave the E.U., which in part was fuelled by misinformation, fear of immigration, and a number of promises that never stood up to scrutiny in the first place.

Now, I hate the result. I do. It would be better if Brexit didn't happen but I respect the outcome. However, I have no respect for headlines like this, or any attempt to create a culture of 'us and them'.

An MP, a mother, a loving wife, lost her life because of the levels of dangerous rhetoric and division that was created in the country pre-referendum. Now the media are continuing their rampant disregard for responsible journalism by fostering continued resentment.

What level of insecurity and bitterness could motivate a paper to whip up such hatred? Paul Dacre needs to take a long look at himself and his publication, and realise that he is not representative of what Britain should be aspiring to.

If we want a democracy, a country to be proud of, and a place where all can feel welcome to bolster our trade, we must make it a matter of urgency that we call out this bullshit wherever we see it. Homophobia, racism, and hate should have no place in discourse, be it public, private, or political. To have it plastered on the front page makes a mockery of everything both sides of the Brexit campaign presented. It makes a mockery of Jo Cox, who lost her life whilst working to promote unity. And it makes a mockery of the idea of a Great Britain.

Stand down

This year has seen cracks in British culture emerge that will eventually have to be filled. Both sides have made mistakes, and by allowing the rhetoric to continue to turn toxic, we are allowing those mistakes to perpetuate.

Remain or Leave, it's fair to say we care about Britain. We differ on the vision, but agree with the notion that this is a country we want to prosper. Nothing can prosper in the cesspit that has become the forum of public debate.

I call on both sides to stand down, step back, throw off the battle armour and take a breath. Ripping each other apart will do nothing to move us forwards. In the words of the man that got us into this mess, "we are all in this together", and now we need to work together to sort it out.

The first step in this process is allowing our British Parliament to do what they're elected for, and allowing our judiciary system - a jewel in the world for its political freedom - to inform them as to what they can and cannot legally do.

Welcome to democracy.

Photo by Michael de Groot

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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12 Comments

  • Emrys Green

    On 4 November 2016, 23:53 Emrys Green Voice Team commented:

    Thanks for another balanced piece. You highlight the absurdity of our media again and point to the facts and ideals in which we are all living. Democracy and process is in action, we should be grateful for such in depth debate and analysis - but there is no need for homophobia or racism as there has been

  • Luke Taylor

    On 7 November 2016, 09:49 Luke Taylor Voice Reporter commented:

    *giggles whilst waiting for onslaught of opinionated Brexit supporters*

  • Rod Booth

    On 30 March 2017, 23:21 Rod Booth commented:

    The saddest part of all this is that so many who voted for Brexit believe that the problems in our country are mainly caused by our EU membership. Of course butter would not melt in the mouths of our politicians. They must be loving every minute of this as they jump on the gravy train and point the finger at the nasty evil EU while milking the popularity of doing so. Don't worry about what we get up to just worry about the nasty EU. Unless I am very much mistaken the EU project is about greater integration and working together to bring about a more global and fairer society for all and is strongly based on good Christian values. What an evil plan! And before anyone rants about migrant labour taking British jobs, as a small employer with just under 100 staff I can tell you from stark reality and experience thus far the that there are few born and bred in this country that are committed to wanting to work in the less skilled industries. I have already written to my MP stating that there urgently needs to be a reporting mechanism to escalate and stop benefits of those who apply for work with no intention of attending any interviews just so they can fulfil the JSA requirements by demonstrating that they have been looking for work. These are the people draining our economy not the harder working migrants happy for the chance of employment.

  • Gary Royals

    On 30 September 2017, 07:56 Gary Royals commented:

    I keep hearing the expression 'the will of the people'... no, it's not. I recall it was the will of 32% of the electorate, less than one third. What is overlooked is that Brexit appealed more to the extremists of most groups and parties and as we know, extremists are far less likely to abstain. In addition, Merkel's decision to open the flood gates to Syria could not have been more badly timed, a decision she is now regretting in more ways than one. Before that, remain was still 4% ahead in spite of the magical fantasy bus. Pity her advisors couldn't see beyond the end of their German noses.
    Anyway, Tom... nice to hear at lease one voice of sanity in the maddening crowd.

  • Ted Hawkins

    On 11 October 2017, 11:58 Ted Hawkins commented:

    Regardless of opinion, the English are now embarking on something they have have never experienced before. Others have done it from them, but now they get to know what it feels like--to declare independence!

  • Rod Booth

    On 11 October 2017, 12:11 Rod Booth commented:

    Interesting analogy. We've gone a long way from the original principle of the Common Market with ambitions of integration far surpassing the original objection. Germany & France are now definitely the lead protagonists but not sure their individual financial ambitions in tge EU are in alignment which is where Macron may struggle with Germany. Germany wants integration providing it does not negatively impact on the German economy.

  • Féargus McDermott

    On 28 October 2017, 18:35 Féargus McDermott commented:

    For any of my English friends - there's plenty of room in Ireland if you fancy cooling your heels until the madness subsides - We'd make room for any forward thinking, multi-cultural, decent minded folk. x

  • Graham  Jones

    On 13 November 2017, 08:10 Graham Jones commented:

    "the country voted (by a far-from-overwhelming 3.9% margin)"

    Just for clarity, and numbers have been rounded:

    UK population: 65 million
    Not eligible to vote: 19 million
    Eligible to vote: 46 million
    People who didn't bother to vote: 13 million
    For Brexit: 17 million

    Just my point of view, but 17 million isn't exactly representative of the country, just that out of those who voted it was more than those who wanted to remain.

    I frequently hear something along the lines of "The people of Britain have voted", "Brexit is the will of the people". If the people of Britain voted for Brexit (all 17 million of them), what are the rest of us called?
    Against Brexit: 16 million

  • Richard Birkbeck

    On 14 November 2017, 17:18 Richard Birkbeck commented:

    The margin for staying or leaving is agreed small, however bearing in mind the bombardment from our pm and many other supposed experts ( even Obama had a go) telling us of the doom if we left I think the leave vote to leave would of been much higher. I know many people who were afraid to vote leave fritened of the consequences of the change. Nevertheless a majority is a majority. The weak pound has made our exports much cheaper so it’s not all bad. I do expect the economy to suffer as a result of leaving for a good few years but long term I believe we will be in a stronger position, with the freedom to make our own decisions. Unfortunately no one has a Cristal ball so only time will tell.

  • Rod Booth

    On 14 November 2017, 17:44 Rod Booth commented:

    I agree we don't have a crystal ball and people from both camps I believe are more harmonious about the belief that we may suffer from leaving possibly for the short or at worse the long term hoping that ultimately things will eventually come right. But You Gov was the only poll that predicted correctly the outcome of the referendum based on their surveys so their polling track record holds a lot of credibility and unbiased feedback. What You Gov now says is that a majority has clearly swung the other way as people have become far more aware of the deceit and imcompetencies of our politicians. If no one is listening or giving any credence to the change in the public mood aa a result of a more enlightened voter how the hell can we say our democracy truly works for tge benefit of this country. It should never be the case when the British voting public are told you made your choice now live with it especially when you consider the deplorable behaviour of all parties concerned.

  • Jim Carter

    On 26 November 2017, 21:30 Jim Carter commented:

    What can you say Tom is one of Urban Middle class who think they know best (being a Uni man) so we who are the under class have voted against something which he holds dear , why ? would it be that the EU is a gravy train for his kind? or Im I being horrible I don`t have a degree I am working Class and I am Old Oh dear why did I get a vote? as it happens I did think it a good idea to stay until the likes of Tom made it clear that those who vote leave are stupid old fools who should be ignored and have won by a mere 3 + points should bow to those who have more learning and more to lose!!

  • Rod Booth

    On 26 November 2017, 23:30 Rod Booth commented:

    It is possible to have come from a working class background and still through hard work attend university so can we leave all the prejudices at the front door and just rely on good old fashion common sense. ( and yes I to am an old git). Common sense says having a free trade (no tariff) agreement with our next door neighbours is beneficial for both exports and imports. Standardising practices through regulation to ensure our neighbouring trading partners uphold to the same standards and visa versa is also good common sense. Jointly having input into the how's and why's this should be regulated and should be through mutual agreement through representation from all interested parties. Contributions to support the infrastructure to make all this happen should be based on each partners commitment and ability to contribute both financially and intellectually. Walking away from this on the basis that we can trade just as economically efficiently outside of our local neighbourhood when we know that the shipping/ transport costs alone will be much more (further to travel), is not good common sense and it will have a knock on effect as these costs must be passed on to the end user, (simple economics). Hence there will be a greater challenge for all of us as there has to be a greater increase to the cost of living. PS; the beer is cheaper in my local Working Man's Club because the club it is partially funded by the members subscriptions. (Sound familiar). The members vote and choose who represents them on the committee. (Sounding a little more familiar ).

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