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View Poll Results: Should Britain leave the European Union?

Voters
60. You may not vote on this poll
  • YES!...Must Brexit!

    20 33.33%
  • NO!...We Must Remain!

    32 53.33%
  • I have no idea what I want, yet I will vote anyway!

    8 13.33%
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Thread: BREXIT --->

  1. #651
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: uk
    One of many problems with it, other significant ones being what the question would be and whether it's actually possible to organise one in the rather small amount of time available.

    That various people who want a particular outcome have spent a lot of money campaigning for one doesn't mean anyone else is especially keen on the idea or that they'd get the result they want.

  2. #652
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Medlar View Post
    Democracy demands good losers.
    Yes... But I'm not sure that's the situation here. What's incumbent upon losers in a Democracy is to gracefully get out of the way. Democracy also demands good winners - arguably quite a bit more important in most cases - and the people who championed Brexit in the first place can't make it palatable in its specifics.

  3. #653
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Land of the crazy
    I think this was totally predictable. Despite their public pronouncements, the EU and UK government have been quietly preparing for a Brexit to happen without a comprehensive deal, which made today's vote a low stakes affair where MPs could vote their conscience/make a stand.

    If May loses tomorrow's confidence vote, which seems to be the most likely outcome, anything could happen. There might be new elections that Labour wins and Brexit is off. Or the Conservative party might retain power with a more conservative leader who tries to negotiate a harder Brexit. Or you might end up with the soft Brexit that May worked for, but implemented through little mini-deals between the bureaucrats without ever coming to Parliament as a comprehensive package.

  4. #654
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    Quote Originally Posted by Medlar View Post
    The problem of a second referendum of course; where does it end? The best of 3 or 5. Democracy demands good losers.
    I think it needs good voters more.

  5. #655
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    If May loses tomorrow's confidence vote, which seems to be the most likely outcome, anything could happen. There might be new elections that Labour wins and Brexit is off. Or the Conservative party might retain power with a more conservative leader who tries to negotiate a harder Brexit. Or you might end up with the soft Brexit that May worked for, but implemented through little mini-deals between the bureaucrats without ever coming to Parliament as a comprehensive package.
    She won't lose the confidence vote.

  6. #656
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    So... No deal Brexit is a go, then?

  7. #657
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    Mexico will now pay for the wall between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

  8. #658
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    There might be new elections that Labour wins and Brexit is off.
    Labour has said it would respect the results of the referendum and seek a tariff-free customs union with the EU and some unspecified amount of access to the single market.

  9. #659
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Landahn
    Quote Originally Posted by Slasher View Post
    Mexico will now pay for the wall between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
    Quite frankly, this is probably the most coherent thing that has been said since this whole Brexit malarkey got started.

  10. #660
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Quote Originally Posted by Slasher View Post
    Mexico will now pay for the wall between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
    /Golf clap, smile and nod./
    This is the answer I came here for.

    As for the democracy math, how many referenda are enough, my intuition is this isn't a issue fit for taking to the public to begin with because it's so technical, involved, and contradiciton-ridden through and through. It takes people dedicated to public service working it out with reflection and debate over a long period. It's fit for legislative treatment. So the answer is 0 referenda are best. And the most legitimate way to get that is +1 -1 to get you back to the zero status quo, and then never touch the issue with a referendum again. When parliament figures out what it wants to do, then they have the democratic power to do it. So it's not like the issue isn't democratic. (Of course the fact that the cabinet / parliament can't square the circle after months of work is part of the reason why this should be left to them. It points to the real policy issues involved which vox populi magic doesn't just make disappear.)

    There's some grounds for it. There's a saying we have in US Constitutional law, the constitution (or you could say democracy & constitutional norms for the UK) isn't a suicide pact. It's one thing for a good loser to admit that his or her vision doesn't match the vision of the majority. That's fine. It's another thing when a majority enters the country into what turns out to be a suicide pact (even if unbeknownst to them). That's when some exception has to step in and do the right thing.

    There's other reasons. You could make a good argument the results of the first referendum weren't informed, even biased by incorrect messaging, and the results now would be much more informed now. But that doesn't entirely speak to the core of that point.

    Anyway, as an American I don't have a dog in the race. It will make the UK just seem that much more foreign to me (like the US is doing for that matter too). But I'll just be really depressed if there's a no-deal Brexit, the EU starts disintegrating, the US pulls out of NATO as Trump is dying to do and NATO disintegrates, Russia starts snatching up central Asian and Baltic states like there's no tomorrow, the open trading system represented by the WTO disintegrates and states start squabbling over tariffs, which leads to arms races, which leads to ridiculous and avoidable conflicts, which leads to serious human rights violations all over the damn place with impunity for the perpetrators and silence from countries that fancy to call themselves liberal democratic... It's all part of that theme.
    Last edited by demagogue; 16th Jan 2019 at 04:04.

  11. #661
    BANNED
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    Quote Originally Posted by Medlar View Post
    The problem of a second referendum of course; where does it end? The best of 3 or 5. Democracy demands good losers.
    Not this again.

    We have general elections again and again.

    The thing with democracy is you're allowed to reassess and vote on new info.

  12. #662
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Land of the crazy
    @demagogue - You're making an argument for authoritarianism.

    I think Brexit is exactly the sort of thing that's appropriate for a national referendum.

    They weren't voting on the technicalities of policy making, they were voting on what general direction the country should follow. On one hand, they could choose to remain a member state of a increasingly federal system that was slowly heading towards a United States of Europe. Or they could choose to break off and be independent from Europe. There are some basic tradeoffs for people to consider involving economic stability and prosperity, autonomy in policy making, freedom of movement, multiculturalism, etc. It was a simple question of where do we want to go as a country that doesn't require a legislative background to answer.

    Once that direction is decided, then it is up to bureaucrats to figure out the details of how to make it happen. The reason why they can't square the circle after months of work is because they are trying to square a circle! It's sort of a Brexit and sort of not a Brexit. May's government has been trying to pursue a middle of the road solution that least offends all the interested parties, and finding that balance point is hard. Besides, Brexit is a big fundamental change of direction and I think it's unreasonable to expect the details to be worked out in short order. There's been too much brinksmanship and posturing and use of unnecessary deadlines as a negotiating tactic.

  13. #663
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: uk
    The issue they're having is that they don't actually want to leave, they just want to be able to do the things that being a member prevents them from doing.

    On May's side of things it's stuff like compulsory membership of the ECHR, illegal mass surveillance of everyone all the time etc. and for Corbyn it's mass nationalisation of everything in sight without paying anyone for any of it.

    What ought to have been the subject of a referendum were all the treaties signed to get us to this point. Saying "well it's all very complicated you wouldn't understand" instead of taking the many opportunities to explain in detail what the planned direction of the EEC/EU was, why that was good for the UK and why the UK being a member was good for the EU is precisely why we are where we are.

  14. #664
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I don't agree with any Heywood's post - Brexit isn't a "general direction" (it's a specific mandate) and isn't a particularly good candidate for a referendum either way. But that's kind of besides the point. What I really want to say is that conflating representative government with authoritarianism to tar your opposition is a particularly low and galling argument to make, especially in this context.

  15. #665
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Land of the crazy
    When a government decides to ignore the will of the majority of the population on a major issue because they don't think the population is fit to decide, that's authoritarianism.

    demagogue's suggestion that the Constitution can be ignored when the democratic process produces the "wrong" answer, that's authoritarianism.

    TBH, I find his (oft stated) views on setting aside the will of the people in favor of rule by technocrats to be abhorrent.

    Edit: I think demagogue and I are probably pretty close to each other's positions when it comes to actual policy, but I think I have a very different view of the nature of government. The primary role of government is to collectivize decision making, not to rule for the benefit of society. I believe very strongly that people have an innate right to self determination and self government. These are two of the most basic and most important freedoms, and way more important than clean streets or economic prosperity. Of course, everybody wants clean streets and economic prosperity, but the ends don't justify the means. A well intentioned, benevolent dictator is still a dictator.

    I also disagree that people are too ignorant to be part of the decision making process. Perhaps some are, but their vote still counts as much as mine or yours (as it should), and it's our fault if we can't make our case.
    Last edited by heywood; 16th Jan 2019 at 19:49.

  16. #666
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Huh? 99.9% of democracy is representative decision-making. I didn't say decision by technocrats. I said decision by duly elected representatives of the people. That's how we do democracy in the US & UK. Yes their vote counts ... for their representative. People don't literally vote on bills on the floor of the parliament. My point was this kind of policy should have been decided like almost every other policy the government deals with, in parliament. So when they figure out by deliberation it can't be done that's the answer. It's also still perfectly democratic & respecting of the will of the people.

    Edit: It's also not controversial that many issues are decided by technocrats in ministries, things like food or drug safety, interest rates, etc, etc. People that think that's still authoritarian are the kind of people that think taxation is slavery and money and the military should be privatized; you'd be joining a fringe opinion if that's the point you want to make. The catch here is Brexit is mixing exactly issues like food safety (that are better fit for experts in relevant ministries) and constitutional issues like being bound to ECJ decisions (that are better fit for political decision-making). The case I was making is that leaving it to parliament is the best way to thread the needle here, all things considered. I don't think it should be decided by referendum (I think it'd be wrong for the same reason I think leaving food safety up to referenda is wrong), but I don't think it should be decided by the the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (technocrats) either since it's still a political decision that requires democratic legitimacy.

    Edit2: Also I didn't mean to suggest the referendum should just be ignored or overruled by fiat. I believe I said somewhere (and in any event meant in what I did say) that there should of course be a second referendum to get you back to the status quo of "this is the kind of thing only parliament should be dealing with". That's what the +1 -1 = 0 meant. I thought, just on advocacy grounds, it'd be better to frame another referendum as a "zeroing" referendum (handing it permanently back to parliament) rather than a "second" one, to give some response to Medlar's legit point (if 2 why not 3, 4, 5...?).* The decision can and should still be decided democratically, just via elected representatives.

    * For the record of course, in a point you see a lot, the Brexit vote was the 2nd referendum. If you only wanted one referendum on it, that happened in 1975 with the ECC accession, and there's a case that the changed circumstances (ECC->EU, etc) doesn't really justify handing it back to a referendum in 2016. (Or if did, the "changed circumstances" from 2016 to 2019 is even bigger than that and justifies another one even more so.) But "not having a 2nd take" after 1975 is part of the "zeroing" argument too. Yes, why have more than one? (My thinking is still Parliament should still have the power to make a decision on it though. I just don't think it's fit for a referendum, just a part of the reason being Medlar's own reasoning.)
    Last edited by demagogue; 17th Jan 2019 at 04:37.

  17. #667
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    One thing to consider is that this was a vote made based on a massive campaign of disinformation. Inventing EU myths has been something of a sport for the British press, and not just tabloids either, which the Leave campaign capitalised on. This left a lot of the voters with a very untrue picture of the issues based on decades of fantasies, like how somehow sovereignty was at stake or how Turkey was somehow going to join the EU and overflow the UK with hordes of brown people.

    As a result, there was (and is) a lot of misunderstanding what the EU actually is. Essentially, it's a union of sovereign nations, and it can never be more than that, or it will cease to be the EU. By design, it has no power other than what has been given to it in the treaties, and the vast majority of this power is aimed at making the single market work. Furthermore, the UK was never some powerless victim who had to cater to the EU. As one of the big three EU nations, it had extraordinary power to make and shape EU policy and to negotiate exemptions from basically anything they didn't like. The UK had opt-outs from the eurozone and the Schengen area, for example. Of course, if you belong to an international organisation, naturally you're going to have some obligations in exchange to being able to have your say and there are things that are fundamental to the EU, like the four freedoms*, but in most areas, the UK had the power to veto anything and everything (and it did do that a lot).

    * the four freedoms are also misunderstood a lot. For example, the freedom of movement doesn't mean you can just about live in any country. To stay anywhere for more than three months, you need to have a good reason for it (studying, working) or have a steady source of income and full healthcare coverage from your host country (which is how British pensioners have been able to live in Spain).
    Last edited by Starker; 17th Jan 2019 at 05:03.

  18. #668
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: uk
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Edit2: Also I didn't mean to suggest the referendum should just be ignored or overruled by fiat. I believe I said somewhere (and in any event meant in what I did say) that there should of course be a second referendum to get you back to the status quo of "this is the kind of thing only parliament should be dealing with". That's what the +1 -1 = 0 meant. I thought, just on advocacy grounds, it'd be better to frame another referendum as a "zeroing" referendum (handing it permanently back to parliament) rather than a "second" one, to give some response to Medlar's legit point (if 2 why not 3, 4, 5...?).* The decision can and should still be decided democratically, just via elected representatives.
    These are the elected representatives who voted to have the referendum in the first place, stood for reelection (in the vast majority) on a manifesto of enacting the result, voted to do that, and then voted against having another referendum on it?

  19. #669
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2003
    Location: On my bicycle \o/
    Quote Originally Posted by Medlar View Post
    The problem of a second referendum of course; where does it end? The best of 3 or 5
    Article 50 is time constrained.

  20. #670
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Holy fuck, it's Jay Pettittitt!

  21. #671
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Quote Originally Posted by caffeinatedzombeh View Post
    These are the elected representatives who voted to have the referendum in the first place, stood for reelection (in the vast majority) on a manifesto of enacting the result, voted to do that, and then voted against having another referendum on it?
    Yeah, understandably. No one could blame them for that, and if they came up with a plan and executed it, no one could really complain it didn't have a mandate. I guess I was brainstorming, given that they apparently can't do that, how they could get themselves out of the knot they've tied themselves into & how to sell it while not being blind to their real world constraints (their constituents' expectations, political capital, etc).

    In a way you're boiling it down to the core issue. Their hands are tied by the referendum to do the apparently impossible and they don't have the freedom to fail. The contribution of a second "zeroing" referendum would be to untie their hands and give them back the freedom to fail. But MPs voting like that don't even feel they have the freedom to untie their hands to be free to fail. They're both bound to fail and bound to stay on a sinking ship as "failure isn't an option". It's like having to squaring a circle. I'd be really depressed if it were my country. But hey the US is ruled by a literal Russian asset who I believe may well keep the entire federal government shut down indefinitely and wage a scorched earth campaign to try to save his ass. So at least we're two ships sinking together side by side in the night...
    Last edited by demagogue; 17th Jan 2019 at 22:37.

  22. #672
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I feel duty bound to post this, given my posts -- A Second Brexit Vote Could Worsen the Chaos Created by the First

    It makes two basic points, the first is that referenda aren't very democratic to begin with (which was kind of lurking in my point. Edit: I've studied & written about constitutionalism and democracy and care about democratic legitimacy; it was my respect for that and worry that the referendum had an anti-democratic darkside that made me worry about this in the first place), and second, what the title says, that a second referendum could do more damage to faith in democracy than good, but even aside from that, it's not clear how one could actually word the thing to be legitimate under the circumstances, or not leading to even more confusion and lack of guidance than now, or even a mandate for the least popular no-deal result, depending on the answer it comes back with, all of which I can respect the real problems they pose. Well it makes some good arguments, and it's interesting to read about just from a political science perspective. What a fantastically intractable mess though.


    Edit, NYTimes has an article limit, so I'll paste the text here:

    The Interpreter
    A Second Brexit Vote Could Worsen the Chaos Created by the First

    By Max Fisher and Amanda Taub

    Jan. 22, 2019



    LONDON — A second referendum on Britain leaving the European Union is considered likelier than ever.

    It’s not just because Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, has asked for a parliamentary vote on whether to hold one.

    Even many members of the ruling Conservative Party, possibly including Prime Minister Theresa May, seem to be following through on Brexit more out of a sense of democratic duty than actual conviction.

    Two and a half years ago, 52 percent of British voters, 17.4 million people, chose to leave the bloc. But public opinion has flipped, with a slight majority now saying they would prefer to remain.

    Still, for all the momentum for a second referendum, there are some

    reasons for Britons on any side of this issue to be cautious.
    Brexit supporters and opponents campaigning in London on Monday.CreditTolga Akmen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


    Referendums are not particularly democratic.

    The most basic form of democracy? Think again. There is widespread agreement among political scientists that referendums are messy, dangerous and not nearly as democratic as they seem.

    A second vote could actually undermine faith in British democracy.

    One reason political scientists are so skeptical of referendums is that leaders tend to turn to them as a sort of political theater. They give the appearance of democracy happening when those leaders are unable to get what they want through the regular legislative processes.

    “A referendum is not a form of direct democracy,” Nadia Urbinati, a Columbia University scholar of democracy, said. “A referendum is used when a representative system decides that it wants to have the support of the people.” And usually, it’s for something the government has already decided to do.

    That can backfire, though, as Prime Minister David Cameron learned in 2016 when he called for a Brexit vote. Mr. Cameron did so not because he was curious what voters thought, but because he believed they would vote to remain, shoring up his position within the Conservative Party, political analysts widely believe.

    If a second referendum results in a narrow majority for remaining in the European Union, then the nearly half of the country that still wants to leave could reasonably conclude that the political establishment ginned up a new vote to suppress the popular will that was expressed in 2016.

    But if the public once again votes to leave, then the people who wish to remain — and thought that a second referendum would deliver that — may doubt whether the outcome was truly democratic. After all, polls have shown for some time that a slight majority favors staying in the European Union.

    Either way, nearly half of the British electorate is likely to come away feeling as if a second referendum cheated them out of a voice, rather than granting them one.

    This could worsen one of the gravest problems facing British democracy, and Western democracy more broadly: plummeting faith in the political system, which has fractured political parties and paralyzed governments.

    A vote on what, exactly?

    And then there is the problem of what to put on the ballot.

    One option is a ballot asking voters to choose between the withdrawal deal Ms. May proposed that was rejected by Parliament — a so-called soft Brexit, with some ties to the European Union — and a no-deal Brexit, in which the country leaves the bloc with no arrangement for how to do so. That is favored by hard-line Conservatives.

    This would help settle which form of Brexit to take, but not whether to leave the bloc at all.

    Another possible ballot would present a choice between Ms. May’s deal or staying in the European Union. But this wouldn’t be very representative, excluding Brexit supporters who want a different deal than the one Ms. May struck.

    A true do-over, repeating the same question from 2016, if it returned the same result, would do almost nothing to resolve the current political deadlock, which is over what form of Brexit to have.

    Adding more options to the ballot could risk creating new forms of uncertainty.

    Imagine a 30-30-40 split between Ms. May’s deal, a no-deal Brexit or staying in the European Union. That would count as a win for remaining, even though 60 percent of the voters would have gone for leaving.

    Ballots that include multiple questions or allow voters to rank their preferred outcomes could be just as messy.

    And any ballot will have to be approved. With Parliament as divided and dysfunctional as it is at the moment, agreeing on something this fraught could be difficult.

    Even if lawmakers could agree on a ballot, boiling a complex policy question with dozens of possible answers down to a simple yes or no can create more confusion than clarity.

    “There is the tendency to see a plurality as single minded,” Professor Marsh said. In reality, he said, in a choice between yes and no, “there may still be very many who want something in between that.”

    That was one lesson of the 2016 referendum.

    Many of the voters who selected “leave” had very different — and mutually exclusive — ideas for how that would work. This helped feed chaos in Parliament, where there might be a slight majority for some fuzzy idea of Brexit, but no majority for any of the actual plans.

    A close vote could force the least popular result.

    To hear some “remain” supporters talk, you would think that their side is all but guaranteed to win a second referendum. But polls are still close enough that voters could narrowly affirm the 2016 decision to leave.

    If that happens, then it will become much more likely that Britain ends up with a no-deal Brexit.

    There would be less slack from an impatient European Union and less maneuvering space for humiliated Brexit soft-liners. With a stronger mandate to leave but no ready plan, Brexit hard-liners could push through a no-deal withdrawal.

    Analysts believe that a no-deal Brexit would most likely crater the British economy, causing significant suffering, particularly among the poor, whose social services have already been shredded. There could also be food and drug shortages.

    A no-deal Brexit is the least popular of any of the possible outcomes, polls generally suggest — and yet a second referendum could bring it about. An odd outcome, but a plausible one, for a process meant to enshrine popular will.

    A referendum may look appealing to certain constituencies, particularly those who want the hardest possible Brexit or those who want to keep Britain in the European Union.

    But whoever wins, it’s hard to argue that British democracy itself would come out ahead.
    Last edited by demagogue; 23rd Jan 2019 at 07:14.

  23. #673
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Coming from a country that regularly holds referenda, I have to say that I find that position... well, craven, to be honest. The faith in democracy is already shaken badly in the UK. The first referendum was a formal farce. A second referendum could outline the available options more clearly than was done the first time around. Would this demand a lot from the electorate? Perhaps, but if that is a reason to reject a possibility outright, what it tells me is that the country in question doesn't have what it takes to be a democracy.

    I'm not saying that their criticism of a second referendum is without merit, but these are points to be addressed and worked with, not strong reasons not to do it, because where the UK is at present isn't really better than where it could be as the result of a second referendum. At the very least, a second referendum done with intelligence and professionalism (which the first one wasn't in so many ways) could provide a clearer mandate to the government. It can be done. It is being done on a regular basis by other countries.

  24. #674
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Landahn
    I read a suggestion that the second referendum should be on whether Britain should join the EU on March 30th. That way, the country can leave the EU on March 29th (without a deal, if need be) and rejoin the day after.

    And even though I (still) live here for the time being, I would take some perverse pleasure if that meant Britain having to pay full rates, i.e. excluding their current discount.

  25. #675
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Quote Originally Posted by N'Al View Post
    That way, the country can leave the EU on March 29th (without a deal, if need be) and rejoin the day after.
    Unfortunately as lovely as that would be I doubt the UK would be able to just join the EU without going through the regular membership process.

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