Firstly, I should state my interest. I voted Remain. I guess I could be classed as a Pro-European. But that does not mean I simply want Britain to Remain in the EU at all costs. It also doesn’t mean I can’t empathise with those who don’t see our future within the EU. I just felt I should state that at the start so that no one reading this can accuse me of dishonesty or writing with a hidden agenda. I voted Remain and if given the chance I would vote Remain again. But I am hoping I don’t have to without either constitutional and electoral reform first. Or at least for us to be on that path.
Why don’t we just hold another referendum in the next 6 months?
This is possibly the aim of about half of the electorate, or maybe just less than half but they may still get their way simply because some who genuinely want and feel that the UK should leave the EU but are now either too tired of the process, too scared of the possible damage to their lives and the country or are simply confused and no longer trust the information they see or hear. A 52/48 first referendum could easily switch to a 48/52. And many feel that is enough. A lot of people are horrified that even after three years of the process the best they can hope for is 60/40, and this would be seen as a success, but how could it be?
The reality is, in terms of the reasons many voted to leave in the first place, none of those issues have been dealt with, or addressed. Positions have simply become entrenched and mistrust is the order of the day. A swift 2nd referendum on whatever deal passes parliament vs Remain will inevitably leave half the country feeling cheated and all their views and fears justified. It would mean growing bitterness that may last for a generation. It would mean that all future decisions made at European level would never be considered by half the population on merit alone. But also, if May’s deal is past at the last hour and we leave when half the country feel they are now the majority and their views have been ignored. They may feel, with some justification, that they are better informed, more egalitarian and a safer pair of hands. But whatever the truth in that, being better informed does not make your vote more valuable and a failure to understand this points to a flaw in our society.
Why does our system need wholesale change?
Our political and governing systems are designed to be confrontational and create winners and losers at ever step. Our history has created this and where in the past it created war, in the 21st century it creates a bizarre spectacle. Social media platforms are the new war fields and jousting in Parliament is broadcast on a 24hr loop. Today Friday 29th March 2019, our Prime Minister will play poker with a weak hand, prepared win by a straight-faced bluff. And on Monday, Parliament will continue with their game of musical chairs. Ok, I must admit, I’m gripped and horrified at the same time.
What lessons can we learn from the past?
Successive Westminster governments forgot about, or worse, didn’t care about a large section of our society for too long. The same has happened in the US and in many other countries across the world. When this happens opportunists will always step in to offer the disaffected a voice, and who can blame them for listening to someone who is finally listening to them.
Only with constitutional reform, strengthened local government, council, regional and national, and a focus on investing in every part of the UK, and electoral reform to give everyone a say in how our country is run, do we stand a chance of turning things around.
In what order?
I believe a long extension will be applied for and granted. Proportional Representation must then be insisted on by the people. And then, only when there is true representation in Parliament can a 2nd referendum take place. Can this be done in 2 years. Unlikely yes, possible yes. I’ve not heard any better suggestions so far.
A long extension does of course mean UK participation in European Elections in May. Our representatives will be as divided as our population, but at least they will be more representative than the Westminster MPs. It will throw European politics and the future of Europe back on British national agenda. And they will realise Europe is almost as divided as the UK. This may be comforting to many Britons.
What is happening in Europe, and how can it be prevented?
Europe is once again dividing. The new division is Unionists versus Isolationists. Macron saying Patriotism is good and Nationalism is bad is meaningless when most believe them to be the same. Redefining words to suit your agenda will not win. Presenting a quasi-federal republic calling itself a United States of Europe with an overarching Federal government will not persuade.
The only way we can avoid this is to present true Federalism as option for all. Where Independent countries can maintain their independence at national level while working together with their European neighbours on areas of common interest at Federal level. A true European Federation of nations can only be created when it is understood and asked for by the citizens.
What is my ambition?
Simply to make people aware that Federalism is a viable option for both the UK and Europe. And one that can unite us all for a better future.
Stuart Clark is currently, board member and Nominations officer for the Federalist Party
He was leader of the UK section of the European Federalist Party 2013-2016. He is active with Alliance Europa, and also the Federal Union in UK. As well as promoting Federalism, Stuart also campaigns for constitutional reform and electoral reform. He stood for Council Election in Lambeth in 2018.
Stuart works for a global ticketing company and is based in London and Cornwall.
Stuart Clark, Editor, UK