Yanis Varoufakis, an Economist and once Greek Minister of Finance writing for The New Statesman, opined that Britain’s need for a people’s debate far outweighs a need for a people’s vote (on Brexit), or of a revocation of Article 50.
Yanis purports that “crashing back into the EU” – via the revocation of Article 50 – would “undermine trust in democracy among many people in Britain.” Yet, what about the hurt Brexit has already injected upon the process of representative democracy? Many Parliamentarians see crashing out of the EU and, yes, indeed adhering to the 2016 referendum result, as a clear and present danger to the majority of their constituents; as Yanis actually believes himself: “Crashing out would inflict substantial economic hardship on the weakest in Britain.” However, they’re abdicating their responsibility as our representatives to make the necessary decisions on our behalf as, in no small part, they fear a “rise of the far-right.” These are the people that Yanis must be referring to when he writes of people not trusting in democracy. He’s speaking of those that would hold democracy captive to one decision made two years ago – with the threat of violence if their absolute will is not followed. If our representatives – whom we democratically voted to be in that position in a general election after the referendum – voted in a majority to revoke Article 50, it would be no less democratic than the referendum and would in fact better realise Britain’s constitution. And, if some felt the need to express violence because of a “distrust in democracy,” then, I’m sorry Yanis, but our representatives do not negotiate with terrorists. If these people who hold those political views do not agree with the MPs’ decision, then they can do what Britain has always done and express their assessments with a cross on a ballot during the next general election.
Yanis also writes that “If Brexit has an upside, it is that it has revealed the need for a “People’s Debate”, not only regarding the UK-EU relationship, but also the festering wounds that the British establishment has kept out of sight: the disenfranchisement of rural England, an archaic electoral system, the UK’s ailing economic model, and the Irish and Scottish questions,” and reasons that revoking Article 50, via either a referendum or through Parliament, would thwart such a debate. I concur with Yanis – there is a yearning for a discussion of these issues, yet I disagree with entangling such a debate with the Brexit question. Britain should not make the same mistake as during the last referendum of refracting issues regarding social mobility, opportunity and ultimately personal meaning onto the question of our relationship with the EU. Theses pressing issues must first be bifurcated for any sense of rationality to prevail.
Therefore, I would propose to Yanis a sequencing of events; firstly, either Parliament or the electorate must make defining and clear decision concerning Brexit (the leave campaign must get behind one option, not several), then, after such a decision has been reached, a general election should be sought; giving rise to a national debate concerning the future direction of Britain – without the EU question looming in the background, skewing the electorate into a undefinable mess. Nothing will be rationally thought through with Britain in economic decline and the SNP threatening Scottish independence.
Read Yanis’ article here