Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Remaining has its own dangers

Mrs May has lost her vote. We are back to a possible delay, leaving without a deal or not leaving at all. What grates in all of this is that the Brexiters could have made damn sure we left the EU by voting for the deal. Instead they are playing double or quits which could end up with us not leaving. That will will spell the end of politics and the end of democracy. This is more than just about the consequences of parliament ignoring a vote. It's about what the EU is and what it is likely to become in the near future.

Remaining in the EU essentially means that more powers will be handed over. Any new local or national laws will have to be submitted to Brussels for approval. If those laws are not in line with the ambitions of the commission and do not fall within the provisions set out by corporate lobbyists then the answer will be no. As pointless as local politics is already, this will spell the end of local democracy.

But then when it comes to the larger questions of foreign policy and trade policy, that too will end up entirely in the hands of Brussels. This is the real vassal state stuff. From there our politics can only degrade as they revert to the usual bread and circuses and retail politics. They will quickly draw a line under Brexit and get back to debating banning plastic straws.

At that point, you and me will have to find something else to do entirely because politics will be little more than a hobby indulgence. We can discuss things and even conclude things but if the people do not have power and cannot meaningfully influence the laws we live under then politics becomes a waste of time. The economic and social model will be set in stone and there is then no point voting for any party representing a different set of ideas. At this point, parliament is there just to gift wrap decisions made in Brussels.

Whether or not this sees a populist surge remains to be seen, but the system has ways and means to prevent it having a meaningful influence. We've already seen how that works and how upstart movements tend to self-destruct. And what of those who simply do not subscribe to the populist ideas of the hard right? We go back having no say at all.

If we remain in the EU, both Brussels and Westminster get what they want - a demoralised, disengaged population to boss around. You are free so long as you stay within the parameters of politics deemed acceptable to them, and anything else will simply be kettled up as extremism. From politics you can have anything you want so long as they agree with it.

This would suit a lot of people down to the ground. The imminent threat to the economy would be over and we could enjoy a few more years of inconsequential and safe politics, free to graze and earn a wage month to month, and things would soon settle down to the usual routine. The media could return to its comfort zone and politicians could go back to preening and virtue signalling. We go back to ignoring the structural defects in both our politics and our economy.

There's a lot to be said for this. I could live out the remainder of my life in relative comfort without a care in the world, knowing that every nanosecond invested in politics is waste of time. There are any number of ways I can occupy my time instead. I can join the masses is leaving the politics to politicians. That, I suppose, would make for a fine life for most.

There is, though, a price. Brexit has shone a torch on just how debased our politics and media has become. We have seen how the politico-media establishment is totally ignorant of EU affairs and how EU diktats become law without them ever understanding their purpose and origin. Remaining in the EU puts us permanently at their mercy. Little by little our politics is robbed of its potency, vitality and gravitas until the voice of authority has no legitimacy at all. That has deadly implications for the rule of law.

Should we remain I don't anticipate mass marches on London. There's nobody bankrolling the coaches. We'll see a few thousand disgruntled yellow vest types but the majority will simply conclude that democracy is dead. From there, with the social contract ripped up, politics becomes adversarial, not between ideas but between the people and their rulers. Disobedience because a moral obligation. As rule rule, Brits don't riot. They plot. Politicians will hae set in motion a countdown to a face off where the normal rules simply won't apply.

The only time I voted prior to 2015 was when I stood as a paper candidate in 2001. It was the very least I could do to vote for myself. Since then, though, there has been nothing to vote for. There have been no options on the ballot paper that reflect my values and ambitions. The referendum was the first vote I have cast that genuinely meant something to me. If Westminster is now saying that even that vote had no meaning, then voting itself has no meaning. Message received loud and clear. For that there are consequences they will not like. It won't be too long before they regret how they voted this evening.

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