The fight for the interpretation (or: After the Brexit speech on January 17th, 2017)
There is now a fight going on about what the British people wanted when they voted to leave the EU. The first rational thing to do in this case is to look at the referendum question. It was exactly this:
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
You could vote “Leave” or “Remain“. If you were elligible, that is. Which I am not, obviously, I only spent 8 years in this Country, have a permanent address here and have a Tax residence here.
But, this is the exact wording of the question. Everything else is window dressing and pointless decorations. What people thought they voted for is irrelevant. There was a clear question and a clear answer was expected. 52% of participants voted “Leave“. There is nothing unclear about that. Those who could be bothered and were eligible made their wishes known. That is absolutely clear. Leave, it is.
The citizens who wanted to stay in the EU (colloquially known as Remainers) now have a bunch of grievances. They are saying that mostly the old people voted leave (here and here), leaving the young generation to deal with the fallout. They say that the Leave Campaign lied about a bunch of stuff – for example about the famous £350M per week for the NHS – here and here. Or that the UK would be staying in the single market, etc. This is all beside the point. The people have answered a simple question. Why they they answer in a specific way, and how much they were lied to, is beside the point.
Do I think they are insane? Oh, yes! Yes, I think they are in the process of completely screwing up a whole nation and making England into a historical footnote about how to quickly ruin yourself. I think they have relegated themselves to an obscure little island, where there will soon be no social net, no equality, huge class segregation and where people will be left to die on the streets once they outlived their usefulness. Of course, my opinion is also completely irrelevant. There is no formal reason to object to the result of the referendum. And personal opinions do nothing for this debate. The answer is clear and the Remainers should not question it, or re-interpret what it means.
At the same time, this is true for the Leavers (those who voted to leave the EU, colloquially) and the UK government too! The government or the Leavers should stop telling me what people wanted, when they opted for “leave”. Like, for example, Mrs. May saying: “[…] That is why both sides in the referendum campaign made it clear that a vote to leave the EU would be a vote to leave the single market. […]”. There were no questions about immigration, there was no question about the single market, or about leaving the jurisdiction of the EU court of justice in the referendum. There is no way to extrapolate any of this from the referendum question. None! The people voted leave and the government was tasked about getting the best possible deal. They have no mandate to interpret what the vote actually means. It means exactly what it says on the tin. So far, Ms.May’s reach seems to be fairly limited. She and her stooges seem to be keen on leaving the single market, tanking the pound (Remember, before the referendum the GBP:EUR conversion was roughly 1.35. In January 2017 it is roughly 1.15), losing the financial passport (with financial services being the biggest British export and here), abolishing universal health care, and social services, threatening deportation (and here), and cutting the taxes for the industry. In short, England is well on the way of becoming a third rate banana republic, much like the US is currently striving to become (with nepotism and plans of military parades).
Therefore, the incompetence of the current conservative government and the labour opposition (that is doing fuck-all to stop this dismantling) should not be covered up by saying that this is what people want and everyone should shut up and get with the program. The interpretation of what people wanted seems to be well in line with the tories neo-liberal agenda, but there is no way to know from the referendum question what is it that people wanted. Oh, I hear you say, we should ask people now, what they want and find out what their priorities are. Also, I hear you ask, are you saying that Ms May and her bunch of oafs haven’t done this already? Well, they might have done it, but if they did, they are certainly not reporting it. Because this is what people want: 90% of the poll respondents want to remain in the single market. Polled individuals say they want increased fairness in the society, based on social justice and equality. So, no, the people do not want curbing immigration at any cost, they do not want the dismantling of the social net at any cost.
Simply put, the data does not support the claim that Mrs. May and her flunkies are doing what the people want. They are doing what they want, but not what the will of the people is. Either because they haven’t bothered to discover what people actually want, or (more likely) because they could not care less about what most of the population wants.