‘The people’s vote’: doomed from the start?

The 23rd of June 2016 was an earthquake that shook British politics. The seemingly uncontainable force of neo-liberal globalization had been halted by the revolt of the working classes. The Brexit vote was a devastating blow to the political elite and a result which they did not see coming. I myself, a reluctant Remain supporter at the time, saw the imminent downfall of the Remain campaign the moment the Rolls Royce brigade of Tony Blair and George Osborne began to patronizingly regurgitate aggressive warnings of leaving. What these arrogant politicians did not understand was the fact that this vote was just as much about them as it was about their friends in Brussels. For many, Brexit was people’s way of rebelling against austerity, the attacks on public services, and years of falling living standards.

To add fuel to the fire, the mass migration of cheap Eastern European labour into a depressed, deregulated, and de-skilled British labour market was being hailed by the very elite profiting from it as “progressive internationalism”. Those who called out the injustice were labeled as “racist” despite EU immigration being predominantly white and those worst affected by it being disproportionately black and Caribbean British citizens. Despite the EU’s “united in diversity” slogan and promotion of multiculturalism, all 28 European commissioners are white and only 3 out of 751 MEPs are black.

It came to no surprise then that the British elite refused to accept the referendum’s result. Ever since the result was announced, there have been numerous calls for reruns of the vote presumably until the Remain side win. As of April this year, however, the demand for a second referendum has gained momentum due to the founding of the ‘People’s Vote’ launched by Centrist MPs Chuka Ummuna and Anna Soubry. The latter has become an unusual hero on the left despite consistently voting for austerity measures and the raising of tuition fees.

On paper, the idea of the British people having a say in the type of Brexit they desire is a nice thought. Practically it is just not feasible. The Brexit negotiations are the hardest this country has encountered since the Second World War. The promise of a second referendum would leave Britain vulnerable to a bad deal from the EU with the knowledge that it could push Brits to vote remain.

Furthermore, it seems that the ‘People’s Vote’ movement is yet to learn from its mistakes from two years ago. The campaign has received huge funding from numerous multibillionaires such as George Soros. These foreign corporate globalists are the exact people whom most Brexiteers loathed. The website and social media are littered with rich liberal celebrities repeating their scripted dogmatic speeches on why their celebrity status makes them better informed on the matter.

The desperation of the Remain camp really showed when allegations that the Russians had meddled in the referendum were brought up. This was the same excuse used by the Clinton camp after their embarrassing defeat to Donald Trump. Whether there is any substance to these allegations, is the Remain bloc condescending enough to believe that a few advertisements on Facebook were enough to sway the vote? Over 17 million votes with a turnout of over 72% was the strongest democratic mandate in Britain’s history after all.

It is high time the Remain side stopped playing the victims of “racism” or “cheating” and begin to analyze the consequences that neo-liberal economics has had on this country. What seems to have been forgotten is the fact that the most enthusiastic Brexiteers were those of the blue Labour movement. They are the British working class who had witnessed their country’s industry crumble under authoritarian European globalization whilst public services were squeezed through the austerity diktat served by the EU’s technocrats in Lisbon 2009.

Even if the result were to be miraculously reversed, Labour shadow cabinet member Barry Gardiner believes the ruling class would face the “largest surge in far-right strength ever seen in Britain.” I hope, therefore, that the British people (who have not done so already) begin to get behind Brexit and work towards obtaining a good deal rather than weakening our negotiating hand and causing more social unrest.

Julien Yvon

(Image credit: Simon Dawson for Reuters)