Also published on Democracy Chronicles
It is 3 ½ years since Britons voted for an exit and still the British Parliament has not been able to deliver what the voters decided. It was not part of the vote to clarify HOW it would be done, if it would be a hard or soft Brexit, for example, only THAT it would, or would not, be done. It is the task of the political system to take care of HOW as well as THAT it happens, and it has failed at both.
The main reason for this, from what we hear in news broadcast after news broadcast from all over the world, is a boundlessly painful process where adults in the room behave like selfish kids. The members of the House of Commons, including the Speaker, have created something that can be likened to a parliamentary coup that gives them the opportunity, on a daily basis, to put forward new proposals and then vote them down. We see a parliament in which everyone is given the chance to set terms and block them at will, depending on their special interests. We see a government that is unable to rule, and an opposition that defies it at every turn. We see parliamentarians without any respect whatsoever for the voters’ decision and instead, many politicians and much of the media lay the blame for the Brexit mess on the electorate who, they say, voted the “wrong way” and created it.
Anti-Brexit supporters are seeking a new referendum, even though the problem is obviously down to Parliament and the politicians. What would a new referendum achieve besides a second chance for the Remainers and for the secret dream of the whole European establishment that, covertly, they may be able to get their way. Furthermore, seventy percent of the British public do not think a second referendum would be any help as the country is still as divided on the issue of leaving the EU as in 2016, although the marginal majority are now the Remainers. Everyone understands that a new referendum cannot be called every time there is a marginal change in public opinion.
All factions have agreed on a new general election, but only on their own terms. Currently scheduled for the 12th of December, if it gets off the ground, it is nothing but a cry for help and not a decision made out of consideration for the voters. The British Parliament has simply hacked its way out of the Brexit mess; a mess that may well continue forever after the election if the same parliamentarians reclaim their seats.
In my most secret fantasies, I see an international political decontamination brigade that, out of nowhere, blasts a hole in the wall of the House of Commons, and flushes it clean with high-pressure washers. And afterwards, Democracy’s own security forces install a new parliament which acts on behalf of the voters, and the decision administrators, the MPs, are subordinate to the decisions and not the other way around.
There are those alongside me who harbour dark thoughts, apparently. According to surveys conducted by Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh, British voters, whether for or against Brexit, think that “the risk of MEPs being subjected to violence” is “a risk worth taking”.
Great Britain, it’s time to let go of the EU now. In unbalanced relationships, you come to a point where it hurts more to stay put than to leave. It is better to release the tension, to part and from this find a new foundation from which to work. Right now, the whole of Europe is getting daily doses of learning that our democracy and parliamentary systems no longer deliver. The fact that extreme political alternatives are popping up in the wake of this is a consequence for which none of those who defend the development gutlessly should blame any other “extremist force”.
At the moment, British politicians are blocking the work of the EU and all of Europe. You actually have to get a move on!
At the same time, it is regrettable that the UK should leave the EU because I believe that all international forces, not least the UK, are needed to counter the greatest threats to humanity; the climate, the finance industry, right extremist forces and a diminished confidence in democracy. The latter keeps growing every hour that goes by. The political fatigue in the UK will, if it has not already done so, reach the same levels as, for example, in Greece after the 2015 election or as in today’s protesting Chile and other parts of South America. A new democratic regime and deeper involvement of voters, a bottom-up-democracy with a chance to have greater influence in politics and to participate in social and economic issues are the only things that can rebuild people’s respect for politics and parliamentarians. We would have needed Great Britain to push for this in the EU. Instead, they are becoming a cautionary example.