Opinion

Brexit or Bust

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Posted: Apr 09, 2019 12:30 PM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.
Brexit or Bust

On Wednesday, EU grandees will decide whether or not to grant Britain another extension on Brexit. If a delay in the deadline for Brexit is not forthcoming, Britain will leave the EU on Friday without a deal, portending something like a clean break between the U.K. and the European Union — in other words, precisely the outcome that the British people voted for way back in 2016. Fulfilling the will of the voters, however, is the last thing the British and European establishment wants.

For this reason, British Prime Minister Theresa May and a host of EU bigwigs are maneuvering to achieve a “flextension” that would give British members of Parliament up to a year (and who knows — maybe two, or three, or four) to come up with a version of Brexit that carries majority support among Britain's political class. The problem, as ever, is that, while support for Brexit is strong among voters, politicians want nothing more than to weasel out of Brexit and to maintain the internationalist status quo. So far, they've done exactly that.

EU apologists continue to insist that the original referendum was tainted, because Brexit supporters were “misled,” or they were swept up in nasty xenophobic passions and were thus acting on emotion rather than reason. The problem, of course, is that the same caviling objections could be raised about any and all democratic elections that have taken place throughout history. The truth, of course, is that the Brexit referendum, while imperfect, would never have been picked apart had it produced the result the establishment desired and expected: a clear majority in favor of remaining in the EU. Instead, the ballot paper posed a simple, direct question to the British people — shall we remain in the European Union, or shall we leave it? — and they (to their eternal shame, as far as the elites are concerned) had the temerity to answer it wrongly. How dare they?

The sad truth is that Parliament has proven itself utterly incapable of translating the will of the voters on Brexit into legislation and policy. In fact, Parliament has proven more adept at obstructionism and playing for time than it has at governance. The best sort of Brexit that Britons will ever get from their MPs is a squishy-soft customs union arrangement that will continue to bind the U.K. to most EU policies, while taking away Britons' ability to help form those policies. This is hardly what most Brexit supporters had in mind.

And yet...the democratic rights of the British people, trampled by their own leadership class, may yet by rescued and restored. How might this happen?

To grant Britain another extension in the deadline for Brexit, all 28 EU member countries must agree unanimously to a new timetable. Getting 28 headstrong nations to agree to a single course of action is a challenge in the best of times, and these are emphatically not the best of times. The EU is struggling to steer a straight course while buffeted by the crosswinds of Brexit, not to mention other serious challenges. 

It is possible that EU member states will fail to reach consensus on the sort of extension, if any, that Britain deserves. If that happens, then the current Brexit deadline of Friday, April 12th would stand. Britain would be forced to pass Theresa May's flawed Brexit plan double-quick, or it would “crash out” of the EU at the end of this week with a no-deal Brexit. In that case, all the machinations to stonewall Brexit would have come to naught, and the will of British voters would have been upheld by Parliament and the EU — albeit by accident.

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Let us hope that comes to pass. Let us hope that at least one EU member state has the courage and the integrity to say “no” to this shameful, duplicitous farce that aims to frustrate British democracy and ignore the voters in favor of the status quo. 

All it would take is one EU state saying “Enough is enough,” or “Elections have consequences,” to save Britain from itself, and to breathe new life into the democratic values and traditions of the West, which are currently hanging by a thread. 

Otherwise, Britons, Europeans, and Americans will ask themselves for years to come: why should I vote, when a vote cast against the interests of the powers-that-be is a wasted effort?