The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Inquire Media
On the 23rd June 2016, the British public declared its wish to withdraw from the European Union and its manifold treaties and agreements. The establishment's worst nightmare was realised: the silent majority found its voice, echoing so provocatively around the halls of Westminster. Since then, however, leave voters have been thoroughly mocked, patronised and all but entirely betrayed.
In the years prior, David Cameron used the promise of a referendum as a political tool in an attempt to end divisions within the Conservative party. But he succeeded only in spreading that fissure from the depths of party politics to households across Britain. The referendum, he thought, would be an open-and-shut affair, a matter of elementary economics. Certainly nothing so complex as a debate striking at the heart of our most intimate concerns.
To misjudge the depth of the matter so spectacularly, and to insult the conscience of the British people—that was Cameron's folly. The vote was about economics, but also much more besides. It was about sovereignty, identity, community, self-determination and the protection of English common law. These drove the Brexit vote; and their significance was overlooked by the shallow economics-first approach of the remain camp.
But the disrespect did not end there. Upon losing the vote, Cameron abandoned his post, and in stepped Theresa May. May’s subsequent withdrawal agreement can only be described as an affront to Britain's dignity. Its terms tether Britain to Europe in a state of permanent subservience. Invigorated by the servile terms of May’s ‘deal’, the remain majority in Parliament set about to obstruct every possible exit from the European bloc. Post-Brexit options steadily dwindled to an autocratic duo: full-blown membership or humiliating vassalage.
Parliament’s message is unambiguous: all roads lead to Brussels.
In the aftermath, there is only one thing that we can agree on: the referendum was posed as a meaningful choice. Regardless of your politics, the vote was taken to be consequential in shaping the destiny of the United Kingdom. Remain and maintain the status-quo or leave and roll the dice on Britain’s future: these were the distinct choices offered to the electorate.
But these choices have been reduced to insignificance by Parliament’s actions. In defaulting on the promise of free choice and obstructing Brexit, Parliament has turned into an enemy in the eyes of the people, and damaged its integrity. Where once people saw the ability to determine their nation’s fate, they now see only the illusion of democracy.
The referendum was, as remainers have said, only advisory. There need be no more illusory choices, demeaning 'deals’ or disrespect. The Brexit circus can be halted whenever the political class sees fit; Parliament is, after all, the sovereign entity. It can choose to reject the will of the people; it can choose to revoke Article 50; it can choose to dignify the electorate with a proper betrayal.
Yet the political class struggles on out of fear for its own survival. The traditions and procedures that guide Parliament will survive Brexit, and the British people, with their peculiar way of life, with them. But what might not survive, if the British people were given a proper betrayal, is the current status-quo. It is that, and not the people’s intimate concerns, which Parliament will fight to protect.