BREXHAUSTED though many of us are – and happy to get the trade deal over the finish line as we might be – hear this: those of us who genuinely believe in democracy and sovereignty cannot let all the work of the last few years go to waste, assume the battle is won and leave the rest to those who did their utmost to thwart the greatest exercise in democracy this country has ever seen.
Unlike referendums brushed aside across Europe in recent years, the 2016 vote actually broke through and won the day.
In the era of Covid and sweeping state power, it is now vital to keep the momentum going. This is not just about the Conservative Government (and before anyone gives them a pass, compare and contrast their handling of the current crisis with the governments of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan), but the whole apparatus of the British State and its multi-layered quangocracy. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – odd flare-up aside – demonstrate the real winner in this crisis has been effective governance, not draconian measures the British State keeps falling back upon.
Lest we forget, it was elements of this sluggish British State (which only at the eleventh-hour appears to be doing anything serious about travellers arriving into the UK) which aided and abetted the Remainer cause in Parliament, and which has been egging the Government on towards more draconian measures in the current crisis. There was no point in extricating the UK from an undemocratic European Union only to swap it for an unresponsive and untransparent elite at home – other than us now being able to sort it out – another reason we must not walk off the battlefield.
Whether in the form of greater initiative power for change (as exists in Switzerland) or the creation of a more accountable decentralised administration, the British State and political system are clearly ripe for reform. It can be done. Brexit proved that people power works – and now we have the accountability of the lawmakers to do it. Not the violent gung-ho kind we have seen across US cities over the last eight months, but the calm rational response which characterised the Brexit movement.
The European Union was a perfect cover for the British State and Government – as it is for political establishments across Europe – often insulating them from criticism. They could point to the shadowy world of Brussels as the real centre of power, the price paid for peace and stability in Europe. More than a battle over immigration, at its heart Brexit was a battle between those who believe decision-making should be closer to the people and those who would push it out of sight.
The subsequent return of powers through Brexit now makes reform of the British State and political system imperative. As such, the Brexit battle is far from done.
Big Tech is now in the mix as well, with the outgoing US President the latest to fall foul of whatever whims and fancies Silicon Valley elites decide upon. Yes, these are independent companies and perhaps they don’t have to guarantee freedom of speech. But given their near-monopolies, surely the imminent lawless action test as laid down by the Supreme Court should have been the test applied to President Trump, whatever one may think of him. That test may yet be met but it doesn’t appear to have been met yet.
Brexiteers who fought for democracy and sovereignty cannot now sit back and take for granted that it will be smooth sailing from here. Lest we forget, it was Parliament which attempted to thwart the will of the power and, despite the plaudits, we are likely to soon appreciate the trade deal struck with Brussels is far more mediocre than the widespread backslapping would have us believe.
A Luta Continua. The struggle continues.