Great Britain, that bastion of democratic ideals and principles, the home of Locke and Smith, the birthplace of Paine and incubator for much of Burke’s canon, stands on the edge of an abyss. If Parliament fails to uphold the democratic will of the British people, the island runs the risk of plummeting towards the bottom of a cavern that will spell disaster. This disaster is such that this Irishman feels the need to warn the British of the dangers that lie ahead.
Yes, the referendum was won by a mere 4% but General Elections are rarely won by more. I agree the wording of the referendum, both the question and the possible responses, was vague but when is language ever precise, that is to say, accounts for each and every possible interpretation? Indeed some members of the electorate would revise their answers if given the chance but when would they not? For this reason, the result must be seen as a very approximate measure of Great Britain’s opinion on European Union membership on that day in June 2016. And on that day, the island voted to leave.
Perhaps if the referendum were held again, the opposite response would be sent to Parliament, even so, that is pure speculation and therefore not sufficient for a democracy built on Locke’s empiricism. Parliament cannot use alternate realities if it is to survive in this one. An attempt to do so would create conditions eerily similar to those on the eve of the English Civil War and, as a resident in a country with a fragile peace, I suggest physical conflict is avoided at all costs.
Ben Johnson said of Shakespeare, “Not of an age, but for all time”, Britain must say the same for its democracy for what example would the cradle of modern democracy disowning its greatest idea set for the rest of the world? Those who cherish democratic principles cannot, in good faith, look to the crudeness of Trump’s America for inspiration so we must look to the next nearest fulfilment of the democratic idea - Great Britain.
Westminster is therefore a flame, albeit a disappointing one considering it has failed to melt the current impasse, which ought to remain alight, at least until America returns to some semblance of democracy. Ignoring the referendum result will suck the remaining oxygen out of Parliament and, if my suspicions are correct, will turn the building into Solzhenitsyn’s gulag. The little heat that remains will quickly morph into cold as Parliament trudges into terra incognita and all that will remain will be for the most extreme Brexiteers to seal the doors up.
If the aforesaid political activists fail to board up the building, perhaps I, along with other disgruntled classical liberals may be forced to do so as a parliament that fails to listen to the will of the people is not a parliament. As the root of parliament is parliamentum naturally meaning an assembly or consultation, I propose calling a parliament that ignores the will of the people fraudulent.
However, the consequences of this metamorphosis of parliament into something new and therefore unknown will be much starker than that offered by any form of Brexit. Westminster seems unable to make up its mind about anything thus it will be loath to decide on any potential constitution. Of course, the British public will have to vote on any proposed codified constitution and judging by the nation’s near collapse over a single issue, it is fear to assume that the ruckus which would ensue over a debate on an entire legal document will bring it to breaking point.