Boris Johnson is pushing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit that has no popular mandate at all

Thousands upon thousands of people have protested against Brexit since the 2016 EU referendum.

In what topsy turvy world is a public vote to confirm a previous public vote undemocratic? That is the question posed by former Oxford economics professor Simon Wren-Lewis in his latest Mainly Macro blog.

Answering his own question, he states: “It is a world where Brexiters have control of most of the media, and where Brexiters and some of the people who voted for Brexit are desperate for some democratic justification for what has become an assault on pluralist democracy and evidence based policy.”

Clearly, Prof Wren-Lewis is a supporter of Labour’s plan for a confirmatory vote on any form of Brexit – which includes the possibility of remaining in the EU after all. People in Brecon and Radnorshire who have the chance to base their vote on that issue should seriously consider voting Labour if they haven’t already done so.

Prof Wren-Lewis continues [all boldings mine]: “If no one contradicts you when you say we must leave with no deal because of a narrow referendum win where no one on the winning side talked about leaving with no deal, you can convince yourself to enact the biggest act of self-harm in modern UK history on an unwilling majority.”

And there is no reason to leave at all: “What many Leavers would like you to believe is that this referendum requires the UK to leave the EU in some way or another. This is false. The referendum did not say that we must Leave the EU whatever the circumstances and whatever the cost or whatever leaving meant. None of those words were on the ballot paper, and they were not implicit either.

“The question was whether to Leave or Remain. As a result, not surprisingly people voted on the basis of what they thought Leave or Remain meant. So to see what people voted for, you need to look at what was discussed. In particular, the Leave vote will have been influenced by what the Leave side said. And almost without exception, no one on the Leave side mentioned Leaving without any deal at all. (Of course some Brexiters are now pretending they talked about it all the time – lying is second nature for these people.)

“Normally when someone says that a government has a mandate for a policy, it is because that policy was in the manifesto presented at the election. The Leave side did not have a manifesto, and that was a fatal flaw in Cameron’s referendum. In the absence of a manifesto we have to base any assessment of what any mandate was on what the Leave side said Brexit would entail. And almost without exception the Leave side said it would involve a trade deal with the EU of some sort.”

Ah, but Parliament failed to agree on a deal. Prof Wren-Lewis says such an outcome was implicit in the 2016 result: “Because the referendum did not specify what type of Brexit should be attempted, we have no a priori reason to believe that any particular option would command a majority. Indeed with such a close victory the presumption must be otherwise, and the polls show this to be the case. Parliament’s failure to agree a deal simply reflects the fact that there is no majority for any particular deal.

“It is true that the Remain side talked about No Deal as an extreme case in the list of possible forms of leaving the EU. But when looking at mandates, we look at what the winning side said, not the losing side. The Leave side spent a great deal of time ridiculing Remain predictions as Project Fear, and that included ridiculing the idea that we would not get a deal with the EU. Some on the Leave side said it would be the easiest deal in history.

The reason why No Deal is the only Brexit option left standing is that militant Brexiters have done everything they can to get us there. They voted down alternative options their government proposed. It is militant Brexiters, not a majority of the public, that think No Deal is the only true form of Brexit. When Brexiters claim that voters were really voting for No Deal they should be laughed at.”

And he states: “The idea that we must go through with Brexit even though there is no majority for any form of Brexit is nonsensical. It is an illusion created by a flawed advisory referendum narrowly won which politicians foolishly said at the time that they would implement. Luckily no politician is bound by the foolish promises that other politicians made.”

Remember that, next time Boris Johnson tries to suggest otherwise.

Source: mainly macro: There is no mandate for No Deal

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7 thoughts on “Boris Johnson is pushing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit that has no popular mandate at all

  1. Dan Delion

    The 1.3M majority of Leave over Remain is less than 2% of our 65.5M population and I’d dwarfed by both the 12M who abstained (many confused by Voteleave campaigners’ lies and deceit) and the 19M who are too young to vote.
    Brexiteers are determined to force-feed ALL of these 65.5M on chlorinated chicken sandwiches regardless of any consequences.
    In the light of many reconsiderations by referendum voters, how can this possibly be described as democracy?

    1. Zippi

      What is undemocratic is that 3 years after the Referendum and several months after we should have left the European Union, the result still hasn’t been honored; we still haven’t left, despite Parliament voting to trigger Article 50. What is interesting is that the £iberal Democrats, who wanted Proportional Representation, oppose the result, despite that fact that it is the truest form of democracy, in that every vote counted, unlike in our First Past The Post system.
      I would question your figures; you talk of our population, rather than eligible voters. In any vote, there will be those who are too young to participate, even if it is by a single day, that’s just the way that our system works. I missed my first General Election by 12 days and had to wait another 4 years. It is the democracy that we have. It isn’t perfect but it’s our system and we can’t change it to suit ourselves, every time that we get a result that we don’t like. In addition, if you choose not to vote, that is voting. You can’t abstain, then complain.
      As for the chorinated chicken; have you forgotten that we were all fed horse?

  2. Zippi

    I have to say that I, for one, am sick people telling us what people voted for. Unless you ask every person, you will have no idea why people voted a particular way. There are, in fact, many people who voted to leave without a deal. Also, when article 50 expired and there was still no deal; what did people expect? The extensions of Article 50 are in the gift on the E.U. We voted in good faith that the result, whatever it was, would be honored. Many people, on both sides, feel that to ask us to vote, again, before that result has been honored, is undemocratic. We all knew, before we voted, what the threshold was. We were told what leaving might mean, certainly, the worst case scenario yet by majority, that is what we voted for. I have asked this, many times and have yet to receive an answer; if the result had gone the other way, what concessions would, or could have been given to those who voted to leave?
    I’m not certain that Boris Johnson is pushing for no deal but he IS making it plain that he is serious about leaving. We’ve had 3 years to sort this and we still haven’t left. The E.U. has said that it won’t reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, knowing that thrice it has failed to get through Parliament. It is said that, doing the same thing, repeatedly and expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity. Something has to change. In any negotiation, one has to be prepared to walk away and mean it. Talking “no deal” off the table means, essentially, accepting any deal however Parliament seems not to want any deal or anything else, for that matter.
    £eaving without a deal is not my preference but having no negotiating position is not my preferred option, either. You always go into negotiations asking for more than you believe you will get, because there will, inevitably, be concessions made, on both sides, depending on the negotiators and how badly each side wants what the other has to offer.

  3. nmac064

    Without doubt the 2016 referendum was a gross abuse of the electoral process, in which a weak prime minister used the electorate in an attempt to settle an insoluble quarrel within the nasty Tory Party.

  4. Zippi

    There is a Parliamentary mandate, in that Article 50 was triggered, as voted for by majority, in the House Of Commons. Here is Paragraph 3 of Article 50 of the Treaty Of £isbon:
    3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into
    force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification
    referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the
    Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
    You will note that the extension is entirely in the gift of the E.U. Parliament has frittered away its negotiating time and leaving without a deal is not up to our Prime Minister, whomever it may be; all that the E.U. has to say is, “no.” Donald Tusk told us, “please, no dot waste this time” and what has Parliament done that is positive? All that I have heard is about cliques, plotting to prevent “no deal,” rather than finding solutions to the failure of Theresa May’s negotiated and unilaterally despised settlement. Preventing Boris Johnson pushing for “no deal” is all but useless, if the E.U. decides not to grant an extension, bearing in mind that we have already be granted 2. Did our M.P.s fail to read, or understand the text of Article 50, before (and since) they triggered it? £eaving without a deal was always a possibility, prevented only by agreeing a deal, or, in the short term, and extension, granted by the E.U. That’s certainly the impression that they gave, when they tried to stop Theresa May and force her to ask for an extension. What did they think would happen, if the E.U. had refused?

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