Every Conversation With A Brexiteer Ever

Well, perhaps not ever… but this seems to be the summary of many:

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: But the referendum was only ever advertised as advisory, it was never legally binding for the government to enact. So it really should be given parliamentary approval in a free vote. Particularly, the terms agreed upon after 2 years of Article 50 negotiations should be ratified through our representative democracy.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: But perhaps it’s dangerous to just enact something without proper expert consideration, especially now that multiple Vote Leave promises have been rescinded and it’s become clear that the population may have been (read: definitely were) mislead. The political and economic landscape has changed significantly since June, so you can’t say a decision taken by non-experts in one situation should be, by default and without consideration, applicable to a much different different situation at a later date.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!brexit_recession

Remainer: But it was a very small win for Leave. The margin was a few percent, almost on par with a margin of error. Given the number of people expressing regret over their vote – a proportion that polls suggest would be high enough to swing the referendum in a different direction if it were done today – is it wise to plough on without further due consideration? Can we not take into account further opinion polls taken after a reflection on the impacts to the value of our currency, the economic impact, or the fact that many Vote Leave promises turned out to be complete fabrications?

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Okay, but we have a constitution based around representative democracy. We elect people to make decisions on our behalf based on the fact they can take the time and do enough research to make an informed decision, whereas the general public can’t afford the time. In line with both the country’s precedent-based constitution, parliament should have a final say in both leaving the EU and accepting post-EU terms. They should take popular opinion under advisement ( as this was advertised as, and as they’ve always done) without accepting the narrow referendum result as a mandate for sweeping, unilateral change.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Thing is, many aspects of democracy require supermajorities to enact rather than 50% +1. Things like amending the US constitution, for example. That’s precisely to stop bad decisions being made on the back of popularism and to ensure broad, representative consensus rather than making sweeping changes when there’s a clear split and the margin is tight. It’s also why arguments about the counterfactual case of ‘Remain’ winning by a small margin don’t hold up – because you don’t need to get a supermajority or a large margin in favour of the status quo to keep with the status quo, because there would still be no strong mandate for change. This is also the essence of basic conservatism, incidentally, as well as part of mainstream political thought about democracy since the term was invented.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Part of the democratic process is that you can’t just accept things blindly, even when popular – as you have to have safeguards against a tyranny of the majority, where the rights of minorities can be removed or oppressed just because a majority says so. If some groups will be more negatively affected by a decision than others, then not everyone is equal when it comes to a simple ballot. Something that sounds good to a large number of people but will probably not affect them might be absolutely devastating to a small number of people who will never have their voice heard in a popular vote. This should be taken into account when taking the voting results into consideration as this forms the basis of a representative, egalitarian and equal society – again, the basis of democracy and mainstream political theories of justice.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Democracy doesn’t begin and end at voting. It starts at representation, and ends with beneficial decisions made through consensus – with voting as a means, not an end. It’s an involved process that continues beyond just voting when and where they tell you. There are countless opportunities to petition, or get involved in decision making. It doesn’t stop, it continues. That’s the actual point of democracy if we want it to mean something positive and beneficial rather than just hanging on the idea that it’s a popularity contest and the majority rules. Leaving it at “vote, and the majority rules!” is a really stunted view of democracy, one which really limits its ability to do the most good for the most number of people – particularly so when the question asked of the populace at large is a simple binary but the real-world options and their ramifications are numerous, complex, and nuanced.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Fine, fine… but… how? How are we going to implement this? The vote was a binary choice of in/out. There was no concrete plan suggested at all – especially by the people pushing the ‘Leave’ option. We’ve literally been left alone to figure this out. Sure, we can do it… but there are no details. What are the details? What do you actually want?

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Fuck it, I can’t be bothered with this shit anymore.


Addendum: The high court rules that parliament should vote on leaving the EU. Good. This isn’t about preventing Article 50 being invoked, it’s about making sure it’s done with our actual sovereignty intact, through the due process of our representative parliamentary democracy. It’s about making sure that the more complex and nuanced options available in reality, and not on an idealised voting slip, are explored democratically. If you’ve bleated on for a year or so about us leaving the European Union in order to restore our “sovereignty”, and then supported the government unilaterally and autocratically passing a law without parliamentary approval, then you are – plain and simply – a hypocrite. If you still can’t wrap your head around this, read here, and keep reading until you understand.

Addendum 2: If any of the above sounds like “bullshit” or “whining” to you, or you still think “but democracy is about voting”, I suggestion you begin with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s article on democracy. Rather interestingly, it doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about voting, because – louder for the people at the back – democracy doesn’t begin and end at a vote.


35 thoughts on “Every Conversation With A Brexiteer Ever

  1. the main problem with the fourth reich (EU) is Labour sold it to us (and I absolutely voted FOR it) under false pretense, we never agreed to allow full control of our laws to EU, that was never part of the deal sold to us, blair and brown sneaked it under the carpet then once we where in, kaboom, tough, you cant vote against EU treaty now as that’s what you actually voted for without being told straight.

    I blame labour liars for all of this mess.

      • Do you remember your grandad telling you about that time he was captured by the Nazi’s and he had to escape, left on his own no food, half dead, 4 months to get back to UK and then went back for some more ? do you remember him telling you of the friends and family he lost in the great war hundreds of them, where he chased the axis of evil around europe without any thought of his own well being and only for the greater good of peace in the world ?

        • My Dad fought in WW2. He’s still alive. He’ll tell you the war finished 70 years ago and he’ll tell you he voted to remain the EU because we need to live in the present not 1940 and we’re far better working together.

          • It was very interesting to see polls (where they’d bothered to break it down so far rather than lumping anyone 65+ together) that there was a statistical upswing toward Remain once people were old enough to actually remember the war.

        • Can I point out that out of all the soldiers I’ve ever spoken to, that not one of them actually care that much about the greater good of peace in the world? It makes sense, really. World peace would put them out of a job, and me as well.

  2. It was the same voting system that got us into the EEC in 1973. EEC meant European Economic Community. It is now called the EU or European Union. They have drastically changed the EEC since 1973. The 1973 vote was accepted for over 40 years. Remoaners can have another vote on the EU if it is there, in 40 years time.

    • It’s true that the political landscape has changed since the 1970s. It’ll undoubtedly change by the 2050s, too. You may also want to pass that information on to the other commenter who seems to think the Second World War is relevant to this.

      But as I view referenda as a failure of representative democracy rather than a vital component or a demonstration of it, I can’t see the relevance.

  3. Strange how, for Brexiteers, the mantra about having to accept a referendum vote never seemed to apply to the previous EU referendum.

  4. This is mostly used on business, but there are quite a few countries that consider it necessary for anything important. “Simple Majority” isn’t very useful in matters of large import, except to split the voters more sharply.

    Supermajority Provision

    A supermajority provision is most often utilized in cases of mergers and acquisitions. For instance, when a target company is thinking about completing a merger, there typically needs to be a favorable supermajority vote in order for the merger to pass.

    Oftentimes, a supermajority is two-thirds of the vote; however, it may vary from case to case.

    In large businesses, all (or most) shareholders need to be onboard with decisions that can drastically change the course of the firm.

    With a simple majority vote, too many shareholders may potentially be disappointed with a vote result. A supermajority vote prevents this from occurring.

  5. The tyranny of the majority. Wow, what a line. I’m sure that if the majority had been in favour of remain you would be using a different word, like wish or desire instead of tyranny. Have you thought that when you put 28 self serving governments together voting this could have a negative effect on one. Maybe the Brexiteers just dont believe in ‘all for one and one for all’. Maybe they would like their elected representatives to make a decision on their behalf without having 27 other self serving countries dictate the terms, because that is what the EU wants to be, a dictatorship and we the Brexiteers don’t want to be a part of it. I really hope that the remainers will have the decency to apologise in the years to come when they realise they were wrong.

  6. Who wants to be part of an organisation run by the Pigs from Animal Farm? The Eu cannot even publish a set of accounts! It is misspending money, so why should GB continue to be a cash cow for the organisation. Continued mebership means that we willl end up living in George Orwell’s 1984. The EU aas an organisation is a buste flush. Whilst I would be happy to be part of a free tradin bloc i am not interested in becoming a minion of an EU superstate that does not give a damn about the people who live in it! I love Europe but not the EU.

  7. Leaver: It was a vote; you have to accept it.

    Remainer: Yes, but you got the wrong result. Quite a lot of voters didn’t like it so we should re-run it until you get the right answer.

    PS I voted Remain, and I meant it, but I’m tired of people saying it wasn’t fair or it didn’t count.

  8. Why, if you believe in democracy would you want to remain in something which has clearly stated it is NOT a democracy? Where 1 country can veto the will of ALL the other countries even when it would save money and time, im thinking of France’s veto of the amendment to no longer move the whole kit and cabbodle to Strasbourg every month for 4 days…what about the European army someone made a speech about a couple of weeks ago but in the run up to the referendum was touted as nonsense…it’s not all about foreigners coming over here taking our jobs!! I believe in immigration but still think we need to match our needs with the people who want to come, I don’t think we should leave Britain to settle in a new country without the means to support ourselves either. If there aren’t the right jobs or enough homes it won’t work for the people who come and then we all suffer. It may be pc to say we should wedge the doors open for EVERYONE but it’s not reasonable or logical, it’s time we addressed the issues properly without being shouted down for expressing our concerns. Refugees are a different issue and the very first thing that needs to happen is we stop interfering in other countries and cultures, stop creating the reason the people flee their countries, mind our own business, if all the people leave nothing will change, they have to be allowed to evolve as nations without us being the know it all parent who can’t stand to see mistakes happen…just like we didn’t like being told what to do by the Romans many years ago why would you think modern nations would like us telling them how to run their lives, instead we should support their OWN desires for their nations and allow them to make mistakes they’ll grow from like an enlightened parent. I hope I’ve not ruined the oft held opinion of what a leave voter is like…

    • Firstly, thanks for being the exception to the post – you’re the first I’ve seen.

      But… on the EU veto. The power of veto is exactly in line with the model of democracy talked about above. It prevents a majority decision negatively affecting an entire country if it’s not in their best interests. That prevents a majority acting selfishly. It also goes both ways – the UK has the power of veto, too, and has used it. You can argue that it’s been abused, that’s fine, but 1) those are usually the exceptions, and more often than not vetoes are used for good reason 2) whenever there’s a system in place, it would be open to abuse. Domestically, for instance, we have time-limits on parliamentary debates (Commons, not Lords, though) and that’s open to abuse in the form of filibustering that can be used to time-out debates and legislation.

      You can’t filibuster the EU parliament, and its members are elected by proportional representation as opposed to FPTP, making it – by a number of measures – more democratic than our own country. In fact, if we go ahead with Article 50 and provide formal notice to leave the EU as an executive decision rather than through a parliamentary vote, it would be the single biggest slap in the face to British democracy yet taken.

      • The EU is replacing the veto with qualified majority voting next year, so that kind of destroys your argument. Remainers can sneer all they want at that retort, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.

        • It also destroys the original accusation that the EU is anti-democratic because of the power of veto.

          You also should note that it says “qualified majority”, not “simple majority”, which is a significantly more consensus-based and representative form of voting.

        • Can you cite that claim, please?

          Not an expert, but my understanding is that the EU council uses two voting systems – qualified majority voting for most issues, but unanimity voting for matters which the member states consider to be sensitive. Unanimity voting means any member state disagrees, they veto.

          In 2014 new rules were introduced for what constitutes a qualified majority, but left an option for member states to request to use the previous set of rules on certain votes for a limited time. That time limit runs out in 2017, so after next year the new rules will apply to all votes where qualified majority is sought.

          Unanimity voting continues unchanged, so veto rights are not affected.


  9. Not even close to ever.. but long story short.. why is there a need for a discussion? That’s the signs of a sore loser you know. (I’m not a brexiteer btw, not even brittish, just enjoying the show between you guys it’s nice to see grown ups act like complete babies)

    It’s like: “we lost, but we don’t want to lose.. here are reasons why we shouldn’t have lost!” … but you still lost


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