As we edge ever closer to the day and hour of Brexit on Friday March 29th at 11pm, it would appear that tensions between certain elements in both the Remain and Leave camps are ratcheting up to new levels. This can be seen in ever heated exchanges between people from the two sides in Parliament Square and on College Green when Parliament is sitting and also the wannabe ‘hard man’ strutting of a small self appointed group of ‘yellow vests’ in and around Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Westminster at the weekends. Also hitting new highs are the levels of posturing, pontificating, cynical manipulation, distortions of the truth, delusion and sheer incompetence coming from the government and Parliament.
We’ve heard a lot from Remainers about the narrow margin of victory for Leave in the 2016 EU Referendum. Alongside this have been comments in poor taste from some Remainers about the number of elderly Leave voters who have passed away since 2016 and how this could impact the vote in favour of Remain in the now highly unlikely event of a second referendum on EU membership. From the Leavers, we’ve heard endless mentions of ‘the will of the people’ and ‘respecting the vote’ and fears of betrayal if Brexit is somehow frustrated. With the clock rapidly ticking down to March 29th and the EU not budging on the Withdrawal Agreement they’ve offered to Theresa May, somehow we think those fears of ‘betrayal’ may be slightly overstated as we get ever closer to crashing out without a deal.
Let’s wind back to the referendum in 2016. Based on a confirmed electorate of 46,500,001, turnout at the referendum was 72.2 percent. Granted that’s a bit higher than recent general elections but, it still leaves us with just over one in four of the electorate deciding not to cast a vote for either Remain or Leave. In the noise of the ever intensifying row about how Brexit is going to be delivered we don’t seem to hear a lot about the non-voters in the referendum do we?
Let’s try and redress that. As we’ve mentioned a few times previously, the Remain campaign was pretty lacklustre, based on the fear of what would happen to the UK when it left the EU. Granted, with the threat of the chaos of no deal getting ever closer by the day, some of those fears are proving to be justified. However, trying to win with a campaign based on fear and with little or no positivity is going to be a tough call which is why Remain fell short. There’s also the fact that despite a carefully manicured image, all is far from well within the EU. The way the EU elites screwed Greece when they were going through their debt crisis showed them up for the neo-liberal cartel that they really are.
As for Leave, the campaign went as far as ‘we have to leave the EU’ but offered no coherent plan or even a range of options that would achieve that objective. We’d just like to say that if a number of well thought out, honest options for leaving the EU had been put to the electorate, the margin for Leave could well have been higher. What we had was the equivalent of something scrawled on the back of a fag packet after a few too many ales in the local boozer.
So, faced with the above options, it’s no surprise that one in four of the electorate concluded that the most honest and principled thing they could do was to abstain from voting. There are elements in both the Remain and Leave camps who can’t seem to acknowledge the thoughts and feelings of the one in four of those eligible to vote who looked at the options on offer, thought ‘a pox on both your houses’ and decided not to cast a vote either way. Probably because doing so would make them have to confront the shortcomings of their respective campaign pitches.
So, let’s hear it for the one in four who saw through both campaigns and rightly concluded that neither of them had anything to offer. As far as we’re concerned, they made the correct decision in not getting involved in a referendum that was called for the cynical purpose of trying to sort out the Europe question in the Tory party once and for all. Well, that was an epic fail wasn’t it?! As the Brexit farce intensifies, the abstainers can hold their heads high knowing they weren’t taken in and conned by either Remain or Leave.