Steve Bullock @GuitarMoog Immigrant, Musician, Sound Engineer, SNP, ex-negotiator for UK in EU. Brother of @JuliaKayPotts. Supporter of @FinalSayForAll. On Holiday. Back soon. Oct. 08, 2018 4 min read

A quick thread on the two points here: 1) a referendum on the Withdrawal Agreement & Political Declaration damages democracy, and 2) it would encourage a descent into populism. Both reasonable concerns. Both are, I think, wrong though, and for closely linked reasons. 1/

On 1) as @davidallengreen (who is against a ref on the deal for other reasons, some of which I disagree with) has pointed out many times, and pointed out again yesterday, a referendum can be democratic or irreversible, but not both. 2/  http://jackofkent.com/2018/10/why-remainers-should-allow-the-brexit-mandate-to-be-discharged/ 

And it would be a referendum. If the 52% are still the 52%, the UK would still leave the EU. If they are not the 52% anymore, but 48%, or 45%, or 35%, then the UK would otherwise be leaving the EU at a point at which the majority were against it doing so. 3/

Aside from the point that, if we're going to talk seriously about democracy we need to talk about the democratic credentials of a ref in which electoral law was broken & senior public figures looked right down the camera and lied, the 2016 vote was also essentially blind.4/

Parliament, rightly, is unlikely to accept a blind, fudged declaration on the future relationship because they would be giving their assent to something they have no idea of or control over, and would then face having to accept whatever is brought back or face a new cliff-edge.5/

This is precisely the situation the public now face. Experts and commentators can still only make best guesses as to what may be agreed in the next few days or weeks. Wild promises were made by both sides. Senior leave campaigners have changed their position dramatically. 6/

In addition, UKGov has failed to create consensus even, and this is important, among Leave supporting MPs as to what Brexit means Brexit means. 7/

If the worry is that confidence will be lost in democratic institutions, Im afraid the horse has already bolted on that one. The end of individual and collective ministerial responsibility, the constant attempts to bypass Parliament, EU27 and UK citz as bargaining chips...8/

...surpression of impact assessments (and ministers lying about them), ripping up constitutional conventions, ignoring devolved administrations, othering of groups of people, ignoring of advice and evidence, scapegoating and perpetuating a blame myth, 9/

...and gaslighting a population that it's all great, the EU's bluffing, and that no deal is better than a bad deal. Trust in our institutions has been wrecked by Brexit. 10/

Forcing people to accept Brexit, no matter the damage, and no matter how many have changed their minds is not democratic or likely to increase people's trust in the institutions and people that did that. 11/

The Government is like a parent catching a kid smoking, and forcing them to smoke 100 packs until they learn their bloody lesson. By then they're addicted and the damage is done. 12/

Now to 2) that it will facilitate a descent into populism, with "a full assault on every institution of political stability with added venom for foreigners." 13/

On institutions, see above. The reality is though that Brexit is itself a descent into populism with added venom for foreigners. 14/

The Leave campaign was fiercely populist and at times deeply xenophobic. It, and the government and senior Leavers' pronouncements since have emboldened casual and deeply nasty and threatening xenophobia and racism. 15/

It has been a central part of the narrative that immigration is a problem, and that Brexit provides a solution to. They, the foreigners, are the problem. UKGov has tried from the start to pass the blame for their own incompetence to the EU27 (foreigners again).

Open xenophobia and racism are acceptable in parts of UK society that they have not been acceptable in for some time. The subtle (and sometimes not subtle) fanning of that is entirely acceptable in much of the media. 17/

More of the same will not appease those who want this. Telling them that they won, and that the people they hate lost, will not make them give up. It'll make them think that they were right all along, and will tell others the same. 18/

The descent has started, and Brexit is a key part of it. 19/

And this takes us back again to democracy. Continuing on this path tells everyone that lies, deceit, populism, othering, scapegoating and belligerence works. Those that do that get what they want. That's how you win. Those that don't or won't are weak and deserve to lose. 20/

Democracy is not a simple majority in a single vote. It's a complex process deeply embedded in society, of which voting is the most visible part. It requires continuing consent and trust in people and institutions. 21/

Continuing with Brexit without even checking for consent says a clear no to this. It doesn't matter how you get it, how many lies are told o laws broken, or if people change their mind or if they're sold an absolute crock of shite. 22/

It says 50%+1 gives the majority carte blanche to do whatever it wants, to whoever it wants, in whatever way it wants. That's the descent we're already well on our way down, and it has to be stopped. More of the same, with added job-losses as well, will not stop it. 23/23

P.S., sorry, didn;t realise that would be so long when I started it.


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