Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Brexit legacy

My last few posts have chimed quite well with a number of remainers. I think we are moving past the stale adversarial stage and seeing people start to engage in the wider discussion of what Brexit should look like. It's largely academic since the government has no intention of listening to anybody and the decision making is now out of our hands.

Given the ferocity of my attacks on Theresa May it has prompted a number of people why I even voted to leave and why set ourselves up for all this pain? It's really quite simple. If you object to Theresa May making sweeping unilateral decisions without public or parliamentary consent then you must by the same logic object to the EU.

Politics is mainly about the accumulation and retention of power. This is something the EU is adept at and ever more decisions are being taken further away from the people and placed in the hands of largely anonymous political technicians who are unreachable let alone accountable.

We object to our own politicians abusing power and are quite vocal about it mainly because our media culture is centred in London and Westminster-centric. Little attention is given to shenanigans in Brussels, Strasbourg and Geneva. Our media doesn't care and by the manifest ignorance of how the EU works, our politicians aren't interested either. We have system on autopilot with very little scrutiny. That is why we need the power back where we can see it. 

When we have a system of governance that relies on the concept of out of sight, out of mind; it can do what it pleases - and it more often than not, it does. Worse still much of what it does happens under the radar but is implemented by national governments meaning our attention is deflected and responsibility is shirked. 

Having surrendered a great deal of power over decision making over significant areas of policy, our collective knowledge of it has atrophied whereby we lack the necessary intellectual equipment to properly scrutinise it and we drift down the road of being heavily dependent on technocrats - who are just as prone to human folly as anyone else.

Consequently we have a complex tapestry of governance which no single person understands and even those working within it have a distorted view of what happens and where. Shortening the chain of accountability is really the purpose of Brexit.

In order to restore that visibility and accountability we have a long road ahead of us a and it does come with a price tag. Brexit alone solves nothing because all we have done is passed the torch from a largely invisible power to one in Downing Street. This blog has always maintained that Brexit is only half the job and we need to go the rest of the way to ensure that we have a democracy.

Brexit more than anything demonstrates why our democracy is malfunctioning. Theresa May has committed us to a particular path and there is very little to stop her. Like Iraq, the government is committed to a path with religious fervour on a questionable mandate based on incomplete and largely fraudulent information. Isn't it time we brought that to an end?

Theresa May said in her speech "when future generations look back at this time, they will judge us not only by the decision that we made, but by what we made of that decision". That's about the only thing she is right about. There was always going to be a price to pay to take back our democracy. It was for us to choose how much we are willing to pay. May has ensured that we will pay more than we ever needed to.

That though will be her downfall. They may applaud her this week but she will go down as the woman who bodged Brexit, turning an opportunity into a calamity. The legacy though, I hope, is that we will have killed two birds with one stone. We will have taken back powers that should never have been surrendered while also demonstrating beyond argument that Westminster, a model from yesteryear, must be consigned to the dustbin of history.

There is no reason why we should have these people making our choices for us and little to be gained by trusting them. If the eventual legacy of Brexit means lasting constitutional reform then the lost decade May is about to deliver will be worth it - even if she makes sure we pay over the odds. 

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