Friday, January 18, 2019

They broke the Brexit

Don't buy this house without a thorough inspection! Via

Conservative MP Bin Afolami from Hitchin and Harpenden, North Herts, a Remainer constituency, who voted to Remain but supports the prime minister now, sort of, on NPR yesterday morning, offering his view in the current chaos, which is that the Norway solution is still in some way available, and that he rejects the idea of a People's Vote that would give the population an opportunity to do a retake, though he's opposed to referenda in general—at one point in the fall he was arguing that you couldn't do a retake because the 2016 referendum wasn't legally binding:
the nexus between the triggering of article 50 and the referendum is weaker than if the referendum had been legally binding. Does that not weaken the case for the referendum result to be overturned or for article 50 to be rescinded, because Parliament is making an even more independent judgment than would otherwise have been the case?
Anyway I was struck by his more elaborated reasons for not doing it, in the NPR interview:
And I don't believe, if you - if you go down the route of having referendums - and I personally don't think they're a very good idea. But once you've gone through that, to then say, well, you know, we've tried it for a couple of years, it's all been a bit difficult; let's do it again, is something that is profoundly difficult for a lot of people, the majority of whom voted to leave.
They will say, we voted to leave. We gave the - our politicians a simple instruction, to get that done, and you've manifestly failed to do so. What that does to trust, not just in politicians themselves, but also to our political system, that if you vote for something very clearly, that you at least get that, I think that's very difficult.
"We made an awful mistake, so we mustn't do anything to try to fix it, because that would just make people cynical."

Keep in mind that that majority (52-48) no longer exists; as of today, the British public is telling a YouGov poll they'd vote to Remain in a new referendum, 56-44 (48-38 if you count the don't knows and wouldn't votes), that's the highest since the original vote. Most people in the UK would prefer that second referendum (47-36), too, though there's a party split: 69% of Labour voters want the re-vote and 83% of Liberal Democrats, but only 30% of Conservatives.

So Afolami (if you feel you should know, his father is Nigerian, an NHS physician, and his mother English, and he got his Conservative training at Eton and Oxford, and he's 32), who only just won his own seat for the first time in the 2017 general election, after the Brexit referendum, could be talking about a sense of real votes in his own constituency. But I don't know, we're told his constituency voted to Remain in the first place (we don't have results by parliamentary constituency, but the larger election district, North Hertfordshire, voted 54.6 to 45.4 to Remain), and obviously fewer Remainers have changed their minds than Leavers in the ensuing couple of years (11% and 7% respectively), so I don't think so.

I guess I think the whole thing isn't about the voters at all, really, but party. Afolami has been recruited as a Conservative who can afford to be an idiot and back up the prime minister in public, because he's young and doesn't look even a little bit like Colonel Blimp and has a very reliably Conservative electorate. So he's defending the indefensible and one day they'll give him a ministry.

I think a second referendum is justified because the first one was so poisoned with lies

Via The Independent. Point 5, the pro-Remain falsehood introduced for bothsiderist purposes, is false because in fact two thirds of UK manufacturing jobs are only partially dependent on European demand. The other five are false because they are actually false (the other pro-Remain falsehood is no. 3, but I'm pretty sure it turned out to be true, because the newspaper's body copy never explains it but always brings up something else instead).
Old David Milliband of the former New Labour showed up on NPR today before I posted this to make basically the same argument: that this pig-in-a-poke character of the original referendum made it illegitimate and justified a second referendum. What the Brexit people voted for was something they were never going to get (though Milliband thinks a more bearable version could have been achieved if the Conservatives and May in particular weren't so incompetent); it's like, he said, deciding to buy a house and withdrawing from the deal after the inspection of the place shows it's not worth the price—you don't have to go through with the sale if find you've been deceived.

The other thing I wanted to say is that it's occurred to me there's a deep disingenuity in arguments about how international cooperation agreements like the European Union threaten national sovereignty. What it really threatens is the power of the national government, which already doesn't listen to voters particularly one way or the other. I figure, to be honest, this is why Jeremy Corbyn is planning to stick with the Brexit policy if he becomes prime minister after a general election, even though 70% of his Labour party favors Remaining, just as much as Theresa May.

The EU needs democratization badly, but one of the reasons it needs to keep existing is to counter the anti-democratic fancies of more local politicians, just as the US needs the federal government to protect citizens from the corruption of state capitals.

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