So many times people have asked me the same question when talking about Brexit, ‘Do you not respect the referendum?’ My position is clear when it comes to whether we should leave the union or not though it is severely challenged by such a question. Yes, I respect it as a referendum though I think it was fatally flawed but do I accept the result? No I don’t.
Is this not a contradiction? No I don’t think so. As we know, the referendum of 2016 was advisory through all major parties agreed to abide by the result and so it was that it kicked off the longest period of political infighting that I have been aware of in my lifetime. Even the election in 2017 didn’t resolve the issue, indeed it made things a whole lot worse, or better depending upon your standpoint.
OK, so the referendum was advisory but the elections were mandatory. The people who voted in 2016 elected MPs in 2017 who are still sitting in the Houses of Parliament, doing the job that they were elected to do. If they don’t feel that the deal on offer from the EU is in the best interests of their constituents then they will vote against it. If they don’t feel that a no-deal departure is in the best interests of their constituents then they will vote against that as well and so they have.
In my mind the election result of 2017 takes precedence over the referendum of 2016 (I was going to say trumps but perhaps best not).
Ironically most of the people who ask me that question are from one political persuasion and take every opportunity to undermine the election of local politicians of another colour. This is democracy. If I don’t like what is happening I can complain and hope to vote someone else in at the next turn. Perhaps I should ask them, ‘Do you not respect the election?
At least I now have a retort to their question. ‘Yes I respect the referendum but I also respect the election which superseded it.’