Is British democracy anything other than a legal fiction right now.

Including the EU referendum there have been 3 nation wide elections since 2016.

1) The initial decision to leave the EU.

2) a general election where the overwhelming majority of seats were won by parties that had manifesto pledges to honour the referendum result.

3) EU elections where the overwhelming majority of seats were won by parties that had manifesto pledges to honour the referendum result.

Yet the UK is still part of the EU and parliament is continuing to delay/stop Britain leaving the EU.

It also looks highly likely that parliament will also block another general election which could resolve things, likely because they fear pro Brexit parties would again win at the ballot box.

So right now MPs are in explicit opposition to the electorate in regards to the fundamental way the country will be governed for the foreseeable future.

Is the UK, and other EU members, now post democracy ?

  • I doubt if any of existing western democracies have such option as "direct democracy" - with referendums and so on. "Referendums are the weapons of dictators!" - don't you remember? – user2501323 Sep 5 at 12:54
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    In addition to the referendum there have been two other elections. – user1450877 Sep 5 at 13:02
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    In point 2, you missed out that the majority of votes went to parties that ruled out no deal. And in the EU elections the Remain axis of LibDem/Green/SNP again had more votes than single issue Brexit party. What Labour's stance was at the time is admittedly unclear. – Jontia Sep 5 at 13:08
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    And at the bottom ' because they fear pro Brexit parties would again win at the ballot box' is innacurate. The anti-no-deal parties fear that Boris would delay the election called under the Fixed Term Parliament act until after 31 October giving no deal by default if the legislation moving through parliament at the moment is not completed. As in this question; politics.stackexchange.com/questions/44285/… – Jontia Sep 5 at 13:11
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    Another sad piece of news for you: referendums in the UK are not legally binding by default. There were some exceptions (which didn't include the Brexit one); see politics.stackexchange.com/questions/40057/…. So blame the current impasse on Parliamentary supremacy, if anything. – Fizz Sep 5 at 13:35

The problem is that "leaving the EU" is a vague term. Neither in the referendum nor in the elections was "leaving the EU" made precise enough. Some people advocated a no-deal Brexit, some people advocated a customs union and most people seem to have supported some kind of unspecified deal. There is no single solution that can gain majority, neither in the parliament, nor in the general public (according to the polls).

If there had been a majority support for a specific Brexit solution, and it hadn't been implemented for such a long time, you would have a point that democracy in the UK is a fiction. But this is not the case.

The most undemocratic thing I can see here is the unwillingness of Brexit supporters to organise a referendum, in which the public could vote for or against every specific Brexit variant that is possible to implement (note that it would be something very different than repeating the 2016 Brexit referendum). But I wouldn't go as far as to say that it makes the democracy in the UK a fiction.

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    The government published a paper before the EU Referendum, as they were legally required to do so, in order to inform the public what a vote to leave meant in real terms. It explicitly says that in the event a deal cannot be negotiated then the relationship will be based on WTO terms. So the premise that people didn't know what voting to leave EU meant is false gov.uk/government/publications/… – user1450877 Sep 5 at 12:49
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    @user1450877 "In the event that a deal cannot be negotiated" However the Leave campaign riddiculed this position as project fear. No Warnings about No Deal So the premise that people thought they were voting for no deal is false. – Jontia Sep 5 at 13:19
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    @user1450877 Please read the document you've linked to. Page 6: "It would take up to a decade or more to negotiate a new agreement with the EU and to replace our existing trade deals with other countries [...] if we could not reach agreement with the EU on a new arrangement, our trading arrangements would revert to WTO rules." So if you voted leave, you should expect the government to continue negotiations with the EU for "a decade or more", and shouldn't expect reverting to WTO terms before the negotiations end. So far only three years have passed, so what's your problem? – michau Sep 5 at 13:23
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    @user1450877 The document you cite mentions the problem of the Irish border but doesn't explicitly indicate that a hard Brexit would breach the Good Friday Agreement. And still after three years Brexiteers haven't offered any concrete solution about it. Arguably this single fact points to a lack of infomation about the consequences of a hard Brexit among voters. – Erwan Sep 5 at 13:29
  • In 2016, the UK had a population of 65,648,000 of whom 46,500,001 were eligible to vote in the referendum. 33,577,342 did that ( a turn out of 72.21%) ant the votes cast were: Leave 17,410,742 and Remain 16,141,241. What this means is that the UK was (and still is) deeply divided on EU membership. There was a small majority for an unspecified method of leaving the EU – Dave Gremlin Sep 6 at 13:45

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