At least the Lib Dems are being honest

Remoaners need to stop feigning outrage at the Revoke pledge.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater
Deputy Editor

Topics Brexit Politics UK

In the past 24 hours, the British chattering classes seem to have woken up to the fact that the Liberal Democrats are not actually in favour of democracy. What a clever, perceptive bunch they are.

This comes in response to the news from the Lib Dem party conference that if – and this is a huge if – Jo Swinson’s party wins a majority at the next election it will revoke Article 50. That is, it would cancel Brexit by fiat.

This is never going to happen, of course. The Lib Dems currently have a mighty 18 MPs, a third of whom are defectors from other parties. In the likely event that they fail to score another 300+ seats, the Lib Dems will continue to call for a second referendum, as they have done more or less since the first one.

Still, the policy has succeeded at least in flaunting to pure-bred Remainers that this is the political home for them, and reminding the rest of us what a hilariously misnamed outfit the Liberal Democrats is. The Lib Dems and others have always said a ‘People’s Vote’ was the ‘democratic’ way to stop Brexit – but this has always been, to use their favourite swear word, bollocks.

Another vote on EU membership further down the line, a good while after we’ve actually left, would be perfectly democratic. But we haven’t left yet. Yes, democracies can change their minds. But it’s a funny kind of democracy in which public votes are only ever implemented if the elite agrees with them.

So most of us didn’t need this Revoke announcement to work out that the Lib Dems are not big fans of democracy. But apparently many in the political and media sphere are not so quick on the uptake.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who is pushing for a variation on Theresa May’s ‘Brexit’ deal, slammed the Revoke policy as ‘undemocratic’. ‘How can any Lib Dem politician look their constituents in the eye’ and ‘refer to themselves as a “democrat”?’, he thunders in the Guardian, seemingly unaware that that ship sailed long ago.

Similarly, anti-extremism campaigner Brendan Cox tweets that it is ‘totally legitimate to push for a second referendum’, but revoking Article 50 ‘cannot be justified’. This was also the line of attack when Swinson was grilled on the Today programme this morning – that a second Brexit referendum is one thing, but revoke is quite another.

This is right, to a degree. Revocation would certainly be a more audacious denial of the 17.4million who voted Brexit. But a second referendum isn’t ‘legitimate’: again, we haven’t left yet, plus those pushing for it have made it clear that it would be rigged against Leave – providing a choice between Remain and a May-style Remain By Another Name.

When it comes down to it, much of this discussion about the ‘legitimate’ way to stop Brexit is really a discussion about the most easily spun way to stop Brexit. The problem with Revoke is that it leaves no one in any doubt. This is about optics, not principle.

Just look at some of the people feigning outrage at the Lib Dem announcement. Remoaner Corbynista Paul Mason called it an ‘insult’ to Leave voters. That’s the same Paul Mason who has spent a good chunk of the past few years insulting Leave voters, insisting that Brexit is a ‘project of the racist and xenophobic right’.

Then there’s Green MP Caroline Lucas, who says ‘you can’t pretend the result didn’t happen’ and that in backing Revoke the ‘Lib Dems are doing just that’. Not only is Lucas a prominent backer of a second referendum, she also recently admitted that she would ignore the result of a second referendum if the result was Leave again, echoing comments made by Swinson just days earlier.

These people are either buying their own bullshit or lying. I’m not sure which is worse. Either way, we can’t let them get away with this. The petulant extremes of the Lib Dems shouldn’t be used to whitewash the anti-democratic antics of everyone else on the elite-Remain side.

At least the Lib Dems are being honest. Their newfound Remoaner critics certainly are not.

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

Picture by: Getty.

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19th September 2019 at 1:31 pm

Surely, if they campaign on a platform to revoke article 50, and win a majority, they then have the democratic mandate to do exactly that?


18th September 2019 at 11:22 pm

The LibDems’ policy of revoking Article 50 is a hell of a lot more honest than JRM’s sly disaster capitalist policy of tanking the British economy in order to make large amounts of money betting against the falling pound (and the subsequent buy out of British society and economy by multinational conglomerates). It is all about the money for Thatcherite spivs like JRM and Farage.

A Game

17th September 2019 at 6:19 pm

I think some Remainers might have gotten a fright watching Verhofstadt’s zealous hectoring about Empire. Finally, he might have sparked the question, “What is it exactly we have been wanting to be a part of so much we are willing to tear our country apart to achieve?”
Watching Vicky Pollard’s “Posh” cousin at work in interviews, it hit me why she gets everything wrong. I think there is something of the sociopath (not the serial killer variety, so relax) about her. Everything is a game, they learn by rote, usually unflappable, of course, zero probablem with lying, hides as thick as rhinos, but the fundamental flaw of no soul. No empathy. How she reacts to being questioned, I think she thinks she’s doing a poker face, or unflappable policitian act, but it doesn’t sit right. The choices are all wrong. Its a trap the socios tend to fall into. They don’t do shades of grey so well. And to have the shabby EU stooge lauding over her party’s conference… serious error of judgement. The kind sociopaths make. Some dodgy rhetoric about the country’s interest… that will gloss over, as described, ditching Brexit by fiat.
That she’s crossed happily to the meglomaniacal stage of envisioning herself as the next PM… well… and happy to go to any extreme if she thinks it will make that achievable.

Ven Oods

17th September 2019 at 11:17 am

“These people are either buying their own bullshit or lying.”
They’re politicians. I’m plumping for the latter option.

Marvin Jones

17th September 2019 at 2:55 pm

Their hand bags and brains are full to the brim with the first half, so now they have to resort to lying.

John Millson

17th September 2019 at 8:22 am

What a miserable situation. Any notions of common-sense compromise are being trampled. Just hoping Johnson gets something; the DUP see sense; many Labour MPs get behind it and the ERG toe the line.
Absolutely sick and tired of the puritans on the two sides. Swinson & Farage – what a repulsive, happy couple.

Michael Lynch

16th September 2019 at 8:44 pm

Honest! Are you kidding, Tom? They are the most dishonest of them all. They jumped into bed with the Tories and then turned their back on their manifesto. They paid for that dearly and they’ll pay for this too once their usefulness to the hard core Remainers has gone. Swinson is as much an air head as Clegg and Cable.

James Knight

16th September 2019 at 5:34 pm

The Lib Dems are like the friend who comes out as gay. He didn’t know he was gay but the rest of us just assumed he was. Lib Dems were always Demophobes, most of us guessed that but now they are out of the closet, shamelessly flaunting their true political identity for the first time. How much time they wasted pretending to be in favour of demcoracy, devolution and constitutional reform. Not any more, they want to stop all three. But at least they are now Out and Proud! Once the Hippo accepts that he is a Hippo and will never be anything else, how much happier he is!

We should encourage more closeted demophobes to come out of the closet. It will save the rest of us the bother of “outing” them.

Jim Lawrie

16th September 2019 at 4:57 pm

They have decided that the loss of their working class support in The West Country can be offset by winning over Labour and Conservative Metropolitan votes and seats.

Any mention of supporting or representing the Brexit supporting working class is now anathema to Labour, LibDem and the Greens. Their fear of social embarrassment in their Westminster bubble overrides all other considerations. It’s as if they are preparing for an election in which only Remainers are allowed to vote.

L Strange

16th September 2019 at 11:56 pm

I think an election where only Remainers can vote would be right up their alley. Don’t give them ideas.

Jerry Owen

17th September 2019 at 9:51 am

L Strange
You’re being to fair .. surely a ballot paper with one box only to choose !

Geoff Cox

16th September 2019 at 4:46 pm

Well at least the quoted comments from politicians in other Parties would seem to be a nail in the coffin of the grand government of remainers.

Dominic Straiton

16th September 2019 at 4:31 pm

“Go back to your constituencies and prepare to take Britain back to 1642.”


18th September 2019 at 11:22 pm

I can’t be bothered to fight for either side in the Brexit debate. I hope to move to Ireland, a more civilised country by far.

Jane 70

16th September 2019 at 4:00 pm

So, is this latest eruption of manufactured outrage by the Remain camp a genuine display of terminal cognitive dissonance disorder- brought about by their intemperate use of double speak-or is it simply lies, spin and pious posturing?

Swinson ‘s previous request for an in out referendum result has been unearthed by Guido:

Jim Lawrie

16th September 2019 at 3:59 pm

Ffs Tom. Did you really have to use a photo with that slimebag Umunna in it?

Alan Watson

16th September 2019 at 6:21 pm

A typical empty-headed and traitorous MP.

A Game

17th September 2019 at 6:20 pm

And by all accounts, perfect for the Lib Dems. He’s found a natural home.

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