As George Orwell astutely noted in 1984, one of the crucial steps in the transition from democracy to dictatorship (Theresa May would presumably call this the ‘implementation phase’) is the perversion of language. We have heard a lot of it since the Brexit referendum.
I read today that fewer than half even of Leave voters think Brexit will benefit them and their families, but 90 per cent still believe the referendum result should be ‘respected’. I agree with them, the result should be ‘respected’, but as George Orwell would no doubt remind us, ‘respect’ is not the same as ‘obey’. Generals often speak about ‘respecting’ the enemy, but that does not mean they obey them!
The referendum was advisory, not binding, at the insistence of the Parliament Brexiters say must be sovereign. So MPs are NOT bound by the result, but they should respect this enormous consultative exercise by debating and taking decisions, without further delay, on these questions:-
1. Was the referendum conducted fairly and is its result valid? If no, MPs must act at once to halt the withdrawal process and decide how to proceed. Should there be a new referendum? If so, how should it be conducted? Should it be binding or advisory? etc
2. If they consider the result of the 2016 referendum IS valid, MPs must examine what would be the effect on the prosperity, quality of life, security, integrity etc of the UK if we were to leave the EU, and, if they were to decide that it would be in our national interest to leave, then they must examine what post-Brexit state we should be aiming for – in or out of the Single Market and/or customs union, for example.
Yes. I know it’s a scandal that MPs have failed to do any of this during the 21 months since the referendum, but they need to do it NOW before they consign themselves to irrelevance. And if the government tries to block their efforts, they must bring it down.
*Will a woman always win an argument with a man? Here's a television vox pop I conducted in Coventry in 1974. http://www.macearchive.org/films/atv-today-12091974-vox-pop-arguing