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Democracy In The Time Of Brexit

17/07/2017 12:03 BST | Updated 17/07/2017 12:03 BST
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There are few things as important to our society, and our nation, as democracy. That is right and proper, because a country whose people are unable to periodically choose their leaders and - importantly - hold them to account beckons dictatorship, and dictatorship leads to conflict, oppression and isolation.

What we tend to forget, though, in our thrall for the process of democracy, is that the whole purpose of democracy is to have a fair, just, legitimate government which governs in the best interests of its people.

The whole point of democracy is protecting and advancing the best interests of the people.

Without this, democracy is a paper exercise, not unlike that which we continue to witness in countries which are avowedly democratic but very much authoritarian in reality, such as Russia, Zimbabwe and now Turkey.

Democracy is also a process, not a single event. It is not a tick-box exercise. Democracy needs to happen continually. If it doesn't, it dies.

We had a General Election in this country last month.

Despite this, there are still those who pretend that it didn't happen. For them, democracy ended on 24 June 2016. For them, a flawed and contradictory referendum result is the only thing that should guide our country into an increasingly uncertain and dangerous future. Our destiny as a nation, sealed that one fateful day.

The sheer complexity and the political and economic damage of pursuing Brexit is already abundantly, and increasingly, clear.

More strikingly, though, and possibly even more importantly, Brexit is utterly incoherent.

This is not a question of tactics, or negotiations. Brexit itself, as government policy, is inherently incoherent.

Not even Brexit's most ardent supporters can or have ever been able to provide a good reason for Brexit, other than invoking the "will of the people" in the extremely selective way described above.

Don't think, don't ask - just do. Sounds rather authoritarian to me. Not very democratic at all.

It is mirrored by, and mirrors in turn, the approach to government by one Donald Trump, whose vision, policies and behaviour are similarly erratic and incoherent, aside from perhaps having as their main goal the personal aggrandisement of himself and his family. Let us call this "Trumpism".

Neither Brexit norTrumpism are genuine ideologies, much less real plans of action. They are a fantasy - a demagogic ego-trip which maintains that "because I will it so, it must and will be thus."

In reality, Brexit has nothing to do with democracy, and everything to do with a self-centred, insular view of the world.

Brexit says that because we voted to make Britain Great Again, we will be great again. Because we say we can strike much better trade deals on our own, we will do so. Because we don't want to have to respect the European Court of Justice, or pay the EU the money which we committed to paying years ago, we don't have to.

We don't have to do anything we don't want to, and we can have everything we want, just by willing it so. It takes Nietzsche to a whole new level.

Yet this is now government policy. More - it is the government policy.

But tearing up the rule books and pretending that you can do whatever you like, so long as you're keeping enough of the right people sweet, is no way for a government to function, let alone respect the "will" of the people, or pursue their best interests.

It is crazy nonsense. There is only one place where crazy nonsense leads on the world stage, and it sure isn't in the best interests of anyone, much less the British people.

The Great Repeal Bill is crazy nonsense built on a premise - Brexit - of crazy nonsense. It cannot be endorsed in any shape or form by anyone who genuinely believes in democracy.

Just this week, the British government quietly agreed to paying the EU's "extortionate" divorce bill. Evidence that when the music stops, and crunch time comes around, and we have nothing to show for all the bluster and grandstanding, a few quips by Boris Johnson aren't going to save either his bacon or ours.

Leave voters can't fault politicians for trying their best to "make a success of Brexit." The fact is that it never could be, and now is the time to start coming clean with the British people.

Brexit has thrust the UK into a fateful moment in its history, and we are finding out just how unprepared we are. But here we are, facing a huge test of this country's maturity as a democratic nation. And right now, we are failing big time.