The notion of a second referendum to reverse the ill-thought out decision of the voting public is as authoritarian as it is anti-democratic. In a rare display of democracy at work, Cameron, albeit for the wrong reasons, offered autonomy to the people of the U.K. The people voted against remaining in the EU. Political commentators of all shades (in the Remain camp) have reacted with horror and dismay that, left to their own devices, the great unwashed have succeeded in wreaking havoc upon the already endangered British economy. The people were tricked, so the argument goes, into believing the lies and spin of the demagogues, (Boris, Farage et al) and as a result have mistakenly opted for an exit from the vast trade and commercial networks of the single market. During the campaigning we were told that the cost of food would rise, small businesses would suffer, jobs would be lost etc.
Yet who can help but notice that the post-Brexit doomsayers in the press are not concentrating on the lives of ordinary individuals, businesses, or trades, or indeed the increased cost of living for the population as a whole, rather the focus has been on the potential devastation of the stock market, and the damage done to city financiers owing to their potential lack of access to the EU’s financial markets.
This raises the question; who suffers most from a Brexit? Is it the unemployed factory worker in the North of England? The overburdened middle-income taxpayer in the South? Or the financial services industry bosses who may struggle to lure international investors to a depleted stock market? The city is already bellowing its demand for exceptional status, it wants privileged access to the EU to continue business as usual in one of the world’s largest financial markets.
The public did not vote out of the EU simply to wave migrants from its shores, or out of some foolish hope of making Britain great again. British people voted out of sheer frustration and perhaps also an inchoate feeling of helplessness and rage that the control of their lives has, over decades, been transferred into the hands of a minority group of wealthy investors, both at home and abroad.
Yes we can perceive the EU not as a broadly democratic institution that seeks to protect and promote the well-being and prosperity of its disparate national populations, but as a multinational banker’s market whose specific aim is to multiply the wealth of a narrow band of capitalist autocrats, thus a perversion of the principle of democracy.
A truly democratic and united Europe – and one to aim for still – is a union that could, in theory, work to protect and enhance the lives of the millions of citizens living within her borders. Some aspects of existing EU law already incorporate this aim. But if the right (or left) wing factions in Europe succeed in dismantling the great experiment, then that hope is lost, perhaps forevermore.