Friday, March 22, 2019

May election, Mrs May. Let the people have their say.

The House of Commons has not yet been allowed a free vote on variations of Brexit in order to achieve a consensus. Whether that would enable a Brexit deal that would satisfy the EU is a moot point, but it is to the shame of government that such an attempt has not been allowed. The current circumstance of a hung parliament would be expected to weaken the government but in not allowing a free vote on variations of Brexit it is actually displaying strength - maybe (final/last gasp?), stubborn strength - but it is having its way. It is ruling. 

What we are going through is an aspect of our elective dictatorship that Lord Hailsham in the 1970's pointed out is the nature of  much UK government.  Usually the phrase demonstrates that with a large majority a government can do what it wants given the party whipping system. In the current Brexit crisis the executive - i.e. PM Teresa May plus a few helpers - is very much in charge of negotiations despite not being able to achieve the outcome desired. Obviously it looks to be a 'skin of your teeth' hold on power now, but the years since the EU referendum has shown the domination of the negotiations by a very small core of the executive controlling the important issue. Parliament has not been able to challenge the negotiations, or find out what direction it has been going in to redirect  it before it reached the pass we are now in. Much time has been wasted and with it negotiating advantage possibly irretrievable lost.

An ideal way to test the latest opinion about the EU is for the Brexit dealings to be paused or stopped  and for the UK to join in the EU elections on May 23rd. This would reveal  public opinion through as many ways as the number of candidates standing.  There are 73 UK seats in the European Parliament and there would be a wide choice of manifestos available and preferences would show up in the proportional representation voting system. It would provide the latest snapshot of UK opinion and give detailed insights as to the shape the final Brexit deal should be - if Brexit is what the UK still wanted afterwards. It would get over the need for a second referendum which would take many more months to organise beyond May and brings its own problems such as: which question would it ask?

In the EU 2014 election turnout for the UK was 35.6%. For a UK 2019 EU election turnout would surely rocket.  The May EU election is a very convenient junction in the long Brexit road which would allow the government to stand back and let the people have their say. A clear, new UK mandate about the EU is within reach. 
Posted by Charles Bazlinton. Author The Free Lunch - Fairness with Freedom. 

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