Can they really revoke Article 50 peaceably? A newly-formed policy by the rising Liberal Democrats has raised a few eyebrows.
In September, the party’s members voted to endorse a policy which would revoke Article 50 without a public vote on the matter. This means that under a Liberal Democrat government, Brexit would be cancelled after three and a half years of division and uncertainty. The liberal party will include this policy in their manifesto ahead of next month’s general election — something which could sway hardcore pro-Remainers to their party.
After defections from an ex-Conservative, Labour, and The Independent Group for Change to Jo Swinson’s party, the Liberal Democrats currently have 19 MPs sitting in the House of Commons. But the number is arguably out of proportion to the impact that the party has had on British politics over the past couple of years.
The party has been seen as the voice of the 48 per cent of people who voted to remain in the European Union in 2016. Are they democratic? Are they undemocratic? One thing is for sure: they will do everything they possibly can to stop Brexit.
When I found out that this motion to advocate revoking Article 50 had been passed, it made me wonder: how can a democratic party possibly overturn the result of the EU referendum without considering another public vote?
A lot of people across the country even see the possibility of a second referendum as undemocratic. Imagine the reaction if the Liberal Democrats get into government and follow through with their manifesto promise. There would be a very mixed reaction, to say the least.
Revoke is the only rational way forward. Only the Liberal Democrats will guarantee to revoke Article 50. Please vote for your Liberal Democrat candidate. https://t.co/9a0Mr0J9U4
— The Many First – Revoke A50 #FBPE #EUCitizen (@dgallagher000) November 1, 2019
— Postal Vote Is Easy #GTTO #JC4PM (@Calumets) November 3, 2019
I can understand why party members voted to pass this motion. If they think that any form of Brexit is going to be disadvantageous for the United Kingdom, why risk putting it to a second vote? There’s no guarantee that the Remain campaign would win if there’s a second referendum, far from it. As well as this, if the Liberal Democrats were to get into government, they will have been democratically elected.
However, I do fear that reversing the result of the most important referendum in our lifetime would be politically dangerous. Members of Parliament have already received abuse online for their handling of Brexit. This tension and abuse would only escalate if Article 50 were to be revoked.
There’s no doubt that there would also be protests from pro-leave supporters. Would these protests be peaceful? I really doubt it. Although this is no insult to Brexiteers. The political and social tensions that this Brexit divide has caused could overspill if the result of this historic public vote were to be ignored.
You could argue that different opinions make the United Kingdom the great democracy that it is. The policy could be seen as a heroic move to stop a possibly damaging withdrawal from the European Union; a policy that cares about young peoples’ futures and their right to move freely within the other 27 EU member states. Alternatively, this could be viewed as an undemocratic move that ignores 17.4 million people who voted to ‘take back control’ of the United Kingdom.
The loss of trust in democracy is the main downfall of this policy that could potentially be implemented after December’s election. If they supported a ‘Peoples’ Vote’, which was their official position before September’s motion was passed, this would have been a lot more palatable.
Together with the Brexit Party, the Lib Dems could go a long way to destroying the two-tier party system that has been in Westminster for decades. The Conservatives and Labour are no longer certain to be the two biggest parties anymore, and that’s what makes this upcoming general election so fascinating. This, coupled with the fact that this election is so heavily focused on one issue, could produce some extraordinary results.
Whether you agree with the Liberal Democrats’ position on Brexit or not, you can’t shy away from the fact that they have made their voices heard not only in Westminster, but on all the major social media platforms as well — where it matters most. After suffering huge losses of seats back in 2015 and Nick Clegg’s subsequent resignation, this December’s snap election could be the making of Swinson’s party.