The EU Referendum, Article 50 and the pious fraud of UK democracy

On 23 June, after a hotly contested, surly, and at times violent campaign, the UK voted to Leave the EU. The vote was clear 52% of the votes, based on 72% turnout, voted to leave. When the Referendum was announced David Cameron promised to invoke Article 50, the article under the Lisbon Treaty, whereby a Member state initiates the exit procedure. However, something different happened, as David Cameron resigned, effective in October, without initiating Article 50.[1]

Cameron leaves the poisoned chalice to the next PM.

The next PM will have to initiate Article 50. For the next 3 months, the UK can digest the decision made on 23 June. Or will it? Here is where the pious fraud of UK democracy emerges. The people have no say in the decision to stay. If the next PM decides to delay it, the people have no say in that decision. They voted to leave, but they cannot enforce it.[2] Even if it the next PM is Boris Johnson, the highest profile Conservative Party Leave campaigner, he does not have to leave. He may argue that the Referendum needs be repeated to initiate Article 50. In other words, the “Please, I would like to cover my ass so that I do not destroy my political career or my party’s future” vote.

Referendum was to deal with Conservative Party split then about EU.

What should be apparent to the public is that the Referendum’s purpose was not to leave the EU. It was to serve two purposes before it would be about leaving the EU. First, it was to call the bluff of the Eurosceptic branch of the Conservative Party. The bluff failed as the public voted to leave. However, before the Eurosceptics can take charge, in October, they and the country face three months of uncertainty that will damage the UK’s economic and financial position. By the time they take charge, the UK’s financial and economic position will be weakened and the UK’s position to negotiate in Europe will be weakened.

Cameron has called leave’s bluff by delaying resignation by 3 months.

The second purpose was to bluff the EU. When David Cameron failure to obtain suitable “concessions” from the EU, he called the referendum to fight off the Eurosceptic challenge within his party. In effect, the Eurosceptic faction believed they could have received a better deal or they could have negotiated a better deal with the threat to leave. The EU has called that bluff as they want the UK to leave as soon as possible. Moreover, any delay in leaving only weakens, not strengthens, the UK’s negotiating position since any failure to invoke Article 50 shows that the UK cannot keep its word. In one stroke, the UK has weakened its negotiating position in the EU and it is has weakened the EU project *with no financial, economic, or social gain for itself*.[3]

Public have no say in the decision to not initiate Article 50.

No matter what happens, we find that democracy is a pious fraud. The popular sovereignty only exists if the government allows it. In that sense, the UK does not have a democracy. It has a democracy only to the extent that the government allows it.







[3] The vote had immediate financial impacts on global markets.


About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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