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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Remain"

Rupert Myers: Remainers might wish otherwise, but there is simply no mandate for a second referendum

Rupert Myers is a barrister and writer.

Can it be any surprise that Sky have set up a TV news channel that doesn’t talk about Brexit? Whether you are an ardent Leaver, or a beret-sporting Remainer, there aren’t many people who can honestly claim not to be sick of an argument that has stolen precious years from a public debate that should be focused on much more pressing domestic concerns.

The discourse has been bled dry of nuance or fresh-thinking, the tribes are hunkered down in trenches from which they lob the same old predictable shells: John Bercow is a villain or a saint, the deal is salvation or ruin, and the value of our independence is either incalculable or a waste of time and money. What these tribes demand of each other is honesty and clear thinking, but they too rarely apply it to themselves. Is there a way through? One far side demands “clean Brexit” while the other cries for a second referendum, but there is every chance that both of those positions are wrong.

It brings me little pleasure to admit that there is no mandate for a second referendum. Remainers complain that the last referendum was not conducted in good faith, and they are not alone in that: from stolen data, dark money, and overspending to a myriad of falsehoods, it could not be described as democracy’s finest hour, but the misdeeds of some of the principal actors do not invalidate the experience of every man and woman who put on their shoes and went to the polling station.

Opponents have failed to persuade the millions who voted for Brexit that they were hoodwinked, and with good reason. There simply isn’t the evidence to support the idea that the referendum was won by – say – the £350m claim. The evidence shows that voters for Brexit felt alienated by a direction of travel that saw unchecked migration coincide with the stagnation of living standards. Brexiters who felt ignored were attracted to the narrative of empowerment represented by “sovereignty”. Remainers still attack the methods of the old referendum, while failing to accept that there is no queue of Brexit voters lining up to castigate the Leave campaign for misleading them. There are only hordes of increasingly impatient people who asked for something to be done, and cannot see why it is taking quite so long.

It is a favourite complaint of prominent Remainers to point out that the majority of votes cast in the last general election were for parties that explicitly rejected the notion of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. There is, they say, no mandate for crashing out of the EU without a deal. What they fail to acknowledge is that there are now two mandates for leaving the European Union – the referendum and the last general election – but absolutely no mandate for a second referendum. Remainers might want a second referendum – certainly I have yet to encounter many Brexiters who want one – but while the public has never asked for one, it has backed leaving the EU. Parliament would be running a monumental risk to try and impose a second referendum on the British public without a mandate won at the ballot box.

While there are valid arguments to say that the British people had no firm idea what Brexit would result in, they certainly didn’t expect to be asked again. The public was told explicitly that their decision would be implemented. Whatever you think of that, a second referendum forced through without a general election first would in effect be the political elite telling the public that their first answer wasn’t good enough, and that they should rethink their decision, as forced through by a parliament that steadfastly refuses to implement what the public has twice voted for. Anyone who worries about the validity of the first referendum, or the lack of a mandate for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit should stop and take a serious pause before gleefully embracing a second referendum this side of a general election. The hubris that lost Remainers the first referendum is the same flaw that sees too many of them demand a second one right now.

For Conservatives and those in the political middle ground, even those most sympathetic to remain, the prospect of five years of a Corbyn/McDonnell government, accompanied by the division and acrimony brought by a second referendum that may do nothing to actually resolve matters, should be enough to deter most people from welcoming the prospect of Labour winning a general election and putting their deal to the public. If you think that the debate is uncivilised and ill-tempered now, just wait to see what it will be like if we are forced to argue the merits of leaving the European Union all over again while our Prime Minister stays neutral in his regular interviews with Press TV and Russia Today.

For the ultra-Brexiters disappointed with the deal, there is a similarly hard truth to accept: the referendum result was close, and it wasn’t won by campaigns arguing that we crash out without a deal. There is no mandate for the imaginary “clean” Brexit, and the Remainers are right about that. If we want to avoid our politics becoming stuck in the vicious and predictable trenches in which it is currently hunkered, the next few years must reflect the closeness of the referendum result and the need to unify the country.

The sharpness, the meanness of the last few years has seen the import into British politics of some of the worst traits of American politics: it too often seems like each side feels entitled not just to their own opinions, but also to their own set of facts. For us to get back to constructive, civilised, dare I say it British political debate, there must be compromise. Ten years ago the Brexiters would have cut their left hands off for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, and in victory they should display not just magnanimity but good sense: something between total Brexit and no Brexit accords with the outcome of the referendum, and demanding more than a compromise might well see the pendulum swing back the other way.

Perhaps the only unifying outcome open to the UK now is to be dissatisfied with a Brexit that disappoints both sides. In all honesty, there were never that many rampant Europhiles who praised the merits of the European Union while we were in it, and while we might all end up feeling even more unhappy on our own as we did as part of the EU, could it really be worse than extending and entrenching our current divisions? Just as Remainers play up what a disaster Brexit will be (and who knows, given the Government won’t give us a tTeasury impact assessment, which doesn’t seem like a very good sign), so Brexiters shouldn’t be overly distressed by something that falls short of total and utter victory. Is it time for both sides to give a little? Not out of impatience or frustration, but in recognition that neither side holds all the answers, and neither team has all the best arguments?

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WATCH: Lib Dems could be “political home for pro-European liberal Conservatives”, says Davey

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WATCH: Gyimah – He would vote remain but ‘if I was Prime Minister, I wouldn’t actively campaign’ for it

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Johnson’s prosecution is just the latest push in a long campaign of Remainer lawfare

The decision by a judge to make Boris Johnson appear in court, in order to face a private prosecution brought over his use of the £350m-a-week figure during the Brexit referendum, is absurd. This scarcely needs stating again.

Various dimensions of the specific case have come under close and critical scrutiny. This post at Barrister Blog (written before the judge’s decision) branded the prosecution an “ill-conceived publicity stunt”.

The author also dismantles the ‘superficially plausible’ idea that Johnson’s statements, even if lies, meet the threshold for misconduct in public office, “serious criminal offence carrying an unlimited fine and potentially life imprisonment.” This view is shared by Francis Hoar, a barrister specialising in constitutional and electoral law, who branded the judgment not only ‘dangerous’ but ‘execrable’. He is confident the case will not see court.

All of this is before you get to Guido Fawkes’ revelations about Marcus Ball, the man behind the prosecution, is lying about his campaign. Or this morning’s story in the Daily Telegraph about how he has spent more than £50,000 of the cash from his fundraiser on such things as a luxury flat for himself.

But the case has a deeper significance, one touched on by historian Robert Saunders (who professes to ‘abhor’ Johnson) in his own Twitter tirade against the case. Dragging the courts into politics to the extent implied by this prosecution risks both stifling free political debate and accelerating a looming confrontation between Parliament and the judiciary over the latter’s constitutional role.

As he argues, politics is unlike other regulated fields because the regulatory function, such as it is, is supposed to be exercised by the electorate. Setting another body up in judgement over politicians, especially politicians on the stump, risks severely tilting the balance of power towards whichever body of opinion controls the levers of that body.

We can already see the iniquity of lawfare in the ongoing fallout over the Electoral Commission’s handling of the 2016 vote. Pro-Remain lawyers are bringing private prosecutions against the regulator left, right, and centre, forcing it to revisit judgements favourable to the Leave side and having no little success in getting them overturned.

By contrast, there is no pro-Brexit body bringing similar prosecutions against rulings favourable to Remain groups. This means that even though there are no grounds for supposing that those rulings are any more soundly based than the pro-Leave rulings – and some seem decidedly dodgy – they are left to stand. The de facto result is that the two sides are subject to different regulatory regimes, one decidedly more rigorous than the other.

(And all of this is before we even touch on what the judicialisation of politics has done to the United States!)

Hopefully a wiser judge will throw out the prosecution against Johnson. But the story highlights again how important it is that the Government gets to grips with British electoral law – and that Brexiteers face up to the scale of the lawfare being waged against them, and fight back.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

WATCH: “It is a shame” that Remain parties are splitting the vote, Swinson concedes

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Adonis encouraged his fans to hate Brexiteers. And now they hate him.

Mark Francois is standing in the European Elections. In a shock decision, he has put out a statement explaining that his position is now that the UK ought to Remain in the EU.

Since the news broke, he has been accused by his former allies of selling out, of betraying his principles and making a mockery of all his previous campaigning.

He seems taken aback by this criticism, and is protesting that actually his view is exactly what it was before. Understandably, nobody seems to buy it.

It’s an implausible thing to happen, and even more ludicrous to imagine that someone performing such a switch would be surprised at the backlash. And yet, of course, it has happened – albeit in the opposite direction.

Of that cringeworthy class of influential men who have been driven to an unappealing and extreme fury by Brexit – AC Grayling, Gavin Esler at al – Andrew Adonis has distinguished himself by the depths to which he has been willing to stoop.

His denunciations and proclamations since the referendum have routinely gone so far as to intensely embarrass other Remainers.

Holding hard to the principle that extremism in pursuit of Eurofederalism is no vice, he has compared Brexit to the Spanish Inquisition and the Japanese capture of Singapore, and threatened to purge civil servants from Whitehall for the sin of doing their jobs in preparing to leave the EU.

As intended, this has made him a cult figure among the pro-EU hardliners who are his target audience, just as it has made him a laughing stock for many other people. To his fans, he is the epitome of a no-compromise, no-surrender, Remain-at-all-costs campaigner. Even his own party has been the target of utter contempt for, in his view, being “complicit” in Brexit.

It does rather trash his brand, therefore, that he has decided to stand for Labour and released a statement apparently backing the Spanish Inquisition.

“Labour has always been clear that it respects the result of the referendum…,” the Brexiteer-Finder-General wrote, “Labour has put forward a sensible alternative plan that would ensure a close economic relationship with the EU after Brexit.” If you were still wavering, never fear: “A vote for Labour is a vote for so much more than just Brexit.”

So much more, but evidently in his view a vote for Brexit nonetheless. Leavers perusing Labour’s confused policy might doubt that, but it appears that on his own terms Adonis must now purge himself from public life for supporting the thing he spent the last three years saying he opposed with every fibre of his being.

It’s such a strange thing to say that if it was a video I would have been looking out for a fake tic, or his fingers tapping out H-E-L-P-K-I-D-N-A-P-P-ED in morse code.

Adonis isn’t the first person to subjugate their beliefs to the insistence of Team Corbyn and he won’t be the last, but he is one of the most stark examples. Jeremy gets what he wants, and it seems that what he wants is obedience in all things.

The benefit to Labour’s leadership is limited but tangible – a battle won in the eternal civil war in which Remainers seek to woo Corbynites away from their Leader. They seem to care more about this than about their actual performance in the Euro elections, and therefore don’t mind too much that the issue might drive some ardently Remain voters to the Greens or Lib Dems.

The benefit to Adonis, however, is hard to see. His standing has plummeted in the eyes of his former fans, and he is now the target of outright ire and disdain from various prominent figures in the Continuity Remain world. Other Remain parties are using him as proof that Labour can’t be trusted to oppose Brexit, with all the bile he once used against Brexiteers himself.

Maybe he feels that he can recant later on, and thereby return to the fold with more influence as an MEP, but he has burned his bridges and it’s unlikely they will trust him again.

He taught his followers to be utterly intolerant of any backsliding or compromise, and told them that Brexit and Brexiteers must to hated at all costs. He now finds himself the victim of that very contempt which he so energetically encouraged.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com