Reflections on Brexit 4 — The Lies and General Attitude of Remoaners
This is a follow-up to my recent articles on the subject of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. (For the benefit of non-British readers, Remoaners is a term we use to describe people who voted Remain, and who now cannot stop whinging and complaining because they didn’t get what they wanted.)
Since the referendum on June 23rd 2016 the Remain side has behaved very badly, telling lies and issuing various insults. The most significant “lie” is that the Leave side lied to the electorate, the implication being that if we had been told the “truth”, we would have voted Remain. We should therefore have a second referendum, so that the “correct” decision can be implemented.
The most quoted “lie” was the one on the side of the Brexit campaign bus, that leaving the EU would free up £350 million a week for the National Health Service. Without wishing to offend those who believed this and therefore voted Leave, this was not very sensible thinking. The Leave campaign was not a political party; it would not hold office following the referendum, and would not be responsible for implementing the nation’s economic policy. It is possible to argue about the actual figure, but the only sensible interpretation would have been that this amount would have been available to the sitting government to spend how it chose, some or all of which could have been for the NHS. So this “lie” should never have been believed. This “lie”, however, pales into insignificance compared with the lies told by the Remain side. Some heavyweight figures were enlisted to argue for the Remain case: Barack Obama, Christine Lagarde (Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund), Mark Carney (Governor of the Bank of England). There were predictions of financial meltdown/apocalypse, the most significant of which was that, if Britain voted Leave, an immediate emergency budget would be required! This was all part of something called by Leavers “project fear”. Despite these predictions/threats, which they were fully aware of, the people still decided to vote Leave. Immediately after the result was declared, an announcement was made that there was no need for this emergency budget! So what was that if not an enormous lie? The predicted financial apocalypse also did not materialise.
This is not exactly a lie, but we are told that the European Union has guaranteed peace in Europe, for example: “Without their (the visionary leaders’) energy and motivation we would not be living in the sphere of peace and stability that we take for granted” (1). It is true that in Europe we are living in an era of peace and stability, but can anyone suggest one war that would have been fought in Europe since 1945 if the EU did not exist?
Remainers now say that negotiating withdrawal is so complicated that, if we had known this in advance, we would probably have been more likely to vote Remain. This may be true for some people, but we should always have known that it was going to be difficult; it was obvious that the EU, given that they always ignore democratic votes (as explained in a previous article), were always going to fight. The way of avoiding this problem would have been to give the people a right to vote about joining in the first place; then we might never have been in the current situation.
Another dodgy Remainer argument is that we should have a second referendum on the eventual deal, the choice being to accept the deal, or remain in the EU. This is obviously a tactic designed to overturn the original referendum, therefore undemocratic. This tactic mimics the behaviour of the EU which, when defeated, calls for the vote to be repeated, so as to give the people a chance to “correct” their mistake. The EU distrusts and is contemptuous of the people; it is not surprising that the feeling is mutual.
We have already voted to leave. If there is to be a further referendum, the choice would have to be, accept the deal, or leave with no deal. If the other option were contemplated, it would give the EU the incentive to give us the worst deal possible.
Another Remainer strategy to reverse the decision is to say that the electorate did not know what type of Brexit (hard or soft) we were voting for, the question on the paper being a simple yes/no. This is also said to justify a second referendum on the deal. Anyone who was following the debate in the media should not have been confused, however, since several politicians said that voting to leave the EU would imply a hard Brexit (leaving the Single Market and Customs Union).
Let’s have a look now at the insults:
- The idea was put around by the losing Remainers that the Leave voters were too stupid to understand the issues, and that referendums shouldn’t happen, because some decisions are far too important to be trusted to the people, and should be left to experts. The word “Populist” has in recent times become widely used. I thought it meant “of the people”, so nothing wrong with that. However, it now seems to mean something more pejorative, something like “of the people, therefore stupid”.
- The second insult was that Leave voters were on the whole old (with the implication that they were conservative and reactionary), that they would die relatively soon, and were therefore ruining the lives of the young who voted to remain.
- The third insult was that Leave voters were racist and/or nationalist bigots.
These three insults were combined in an extraordinary quote from the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, who said at the party’s Spring conference that Brexit was driven by the “white nostalgia” of the elderly, a longing for “a world where passports were blue, faces were white and the map was coloured imperial pink”.
In the past I have had a lot of time for Cable, a very decent man, and his opinions, but this is condescending, patronising and arrogant. I am not in favour of trading insults, since it is hard to see how that can be helpful, but I’ll imagine an insult that Leavers might come up with in response: Remainers have contempt for the electorate, have no interest in democracy and national sovereignty, and are therefore like sheep who are willing to fall in line with anything this authoritarian organisation wants. They have been brainwashed by the EU, and are too stupid to have noticed this, and have relied on the votes of naïve, over-idealistic young people; perhaps older people have more sense.
He and fellow Remainers would be outraged if Leavers started talking like this; everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Are they suggesting that young peoples’ votes should count double? It would therefore make sense to look at these issues more sensibly, instead of trading insults. The result of the referendum was close, but we live in a democracy, and have opted, for better or worse, for a first-past-the-post system as recently as a referendum in 2011. So the Remoaners, quite simply, should just get over it. We don’t have a second General Election if the result is close, unless one of the party leaders feels the need. The voters for the losing side just have to get on with their lives. Remainers should do the same.
It would be foolish to deny that some of the Leave voters were motivated by racism and nationalism. This is regrettable, and I am personally uncomfortable that I had to vote alongside them, and possibly needed their votes in order to win. Such sentiments, however, also have a more positive side; these are called patriotism and love of one’s country, which are usually held in high esteem.