The casual authoritarianism of Remoaners

Jo Swinson and Caroline Lucas have said they would reject a second pro-Leave referendum result.

Tom Slater
Topics Brexit Politics UK

In 1945, Clement Attlee said referendums were ‘the instrument of Nazism and fascism’. In 1975, Margaret Thatcher, nodding to Attlee, said referendums are a ‘device of dictators and demagogues’.

These quotes have been dug out time and again since the EU referendum, by Remainers horrified by the result. They slot Attlee’s and Thatcher’s remarks into their own warped view that democracy equals fascism. People are so dumb and wicked, goes the thinking, that we’re just waiting to elect genocidal maniacs. Referendums are not democratic exercises because it is all too easy for demagogues to mislead the sheeple.

But if anyone has been trying to use nominally ‘democratic’ processes to authoritarian ends recently, who has been trying to use the language of democracy against democracy, it is the Remainer elite. And in recent days, two of the political leaders of the Remain outlook, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, let slip their authoritarian intentions.

Swinson and Lucas are among those calling for a second referendum on Brexit. But when pushed by separate BBC interviewers as to whether they would accept the result of another referendum if the country voted Leave again, they both said no. On BBC News yesterday, Swinson said ‘No’, adding that ‘I’m going to do what I was sent here to do’. On Politics Live today, Lucas was at least more direct: ‘Um, no I probably wouldn’t.’

These admissions explode the argument the so-called People’s Vote campaign is still trying to make with a straight face. That is that while the electorate voted for Brexit, we didn’t vote for any particular Brexit deal. We should therefore have a right to vote on the terms, and if we now want to change our minds – that’s fine too!

Clearly, this was always bollocks. A second referendum is not about us having a final say – it is a means to an anti-democratic end, and the result would also be ignored if it went the ‘wrong’ way.

Given the anti-democratic bile that has been been spewed from Remoaners these past three years, Swinson’s and Lucas’s slips are hardly shocking. But we need to make clear what they are saying here. They are saying they are only willing to accept the outcome of democratic votes if they win them. This is the attitude of autocrats, happy to hold an election but only if one party is on the ballot. They are willing to use the ballot box to bolster their position, but just as willing to reject the result if they lose.

It’s amazing how inured we have become to these kind of authoritarian Remoaner arguments. Remember when Donald Trump refused to say whether he would accept the result of the 2016 US election if he lost? Liberals lost their shit – and rightly so, for once. But when essentially the same attitude is voiced by two leading Remainers, it is deemed by commentators to be eminently sensible – the leadership Britain needs!

For all the pearl-clutching over Boris Johnson’s history of spicy statements, what Swinson and Lucas have said in the past 24 hours is far worse than anything our new PM ever dashed out on a deadline. And this casual authoritarianism has become worryingly mainstream among the chattering classes.

Tom Slater is deputy editor at spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Pictures by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Marvin Jones

29th July 2019 at 11:40 am

So this is what is meant by collective asinine thinking. They want to remain in Europe, they want another referendum, but they intend to ignore the result if it goes against their illiterate wishes, and believe the total crap that has been dealt out since 2016.

Mark Lambert

28th July 2019 at 8:49 pm

Better, I suppose would be “I’d be miffed, but I’d accept it”

But it isn’t that. It reeks of banging on and on and on to try to overturn a democratic vote(s).

But the hysteria about Boris and his writing output goes on. Jo Swinson in an article used “Letterbox” once again (a million times now?) but also came out with something which made me laugh out loud. Apparently Boris, back during the London Olympics referred to the bizarre sight of beach volleyball being played on Horseguard’s Parade.
Boris wrote, referring to the players as “semi-naked women glistening like wet otters” (presumably he had the sense to not use “beavers”).

This has outraged Jo, when all I saw was fun. She also referred to the beach volleyball players as “elite sportswomen”. “Elite”?

Some of this is great fun.

Marvin Jones

31st July 2019 at 2:50 pm

Now! who was it that began to invent a brain for this lot, but gave up after five minutes?

Martin Bishop

25th July 2019 at 9:49 pm

Casual authoritarianism is rampant in politics, from people ignoring results of referedums to those deciding when people are allowed to have them.

Amelia Cantor

25th July 2019 at 9:58 am

Children always complain when grown-ups “interfere” when the children are doing something stupid and dangerous.

Brexiteers are the children playing with matches and razor-blades.

Jo Swinson and Caroline Lucas are the responsible adults who want the children to stop now before they hurt themselves.

It’s too late, of course. And with the BoJo buffoon in No 10, the children are about to be taught a very sharp but far from short lesson. If you want a place in the vibrant intersectional future, you’ll have to rely on your merits, not on white privilege or male privilege. What a horrifying prospect!

harry briggs

26th July 2019 at 6:59 pm


Simon Morgan

27th July 2019 at 5:08 am

Okay, lets’ scratch Amelia and see what we find underneath the skin, eh?


On second thoughts, put the skin right back – it’s too nauseating!!


29th July 2019 at 12:39 pm

Amelia, are you able to have a proper, decent conversation without spurting out Leftie zombie language which of course is rendered meaningless by zombies like you?”Vibrant intersectional”
How incredibly robotic you zombies always sound.

Phill Holland

24th July 2019 at 7:18 pm

You may have a point, but using childish terms such as remoaner weakens your thinly veiled attempt at writing a balanced article. Using such name calling techniques cons readers into believing and reading whatever they like about such a vague label against an imagined enemy, with an implied narrative that really explains nothing; it’s manipulative at best and lazy journalism.

Those on the right wing are easy to read, as they project their intent so easily on the “enemy” and accuse them of everything they aspire too; we currently live in opposite land and not one action of the populist movement has been democratic, grasping at straws when they think the external narrative matches their inner monologue and deepest desires, whilst the rhetoric and motivations projected towards the public have been deceitful and manipulative, ignoring these traits as if it’s OK to behave like that and build a stable country foundation upon.

Still, I’m sure you’ll fall up the ranks and running the Daily Mail eventually, pulling the strings of politics getting what you want and screwing everybody else when they thought you stood up for them. Kudos to your future writing career.

Jerry Owen

24th July 2019 at 8:36 pm

Marvellous bit of whataboutery !

Neil McCaughan

24th July 2019 at 8:38 pm

What an unsophisticated post. Like so many of your sort, you are deeply uncomfortable with plain speaking.

Remoaner is the accepted term for a remain supporter who cannot accept the outcome of our biggest ever democratic exercise, but continues to whine about the security of the sandwich supply, super-gonorrhoea, the Rooshians, and all of the other fatuous, trivial issues that so preoccupy low-information, lower middle class, metropolitan types. To be distinguished from remainers, most of whom accept the democratic decision.

Lucas and Swinson are remoaners, or, if you prefer, remaintards.

Jonathan Marshall

25th July 2019 at 9:27 pm

Very good point. Can you even begin to imagine the howls of outrage from the likes of Swinson and Lucas if Remain had won the referendum and Leavers were trying their utmost to overturn the result?

harry briggs

26th July 2019 at 7:00 pm

You must be a Psychologist, or maybe a remoaner?

Cathal Barry

31st July 2019 at 12:32 am

↑↑ Remoaner alert ↑↑

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