For all those waiting with bated breath for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, the much anticipated Brexit has been delayed yet again. It seems that, despite the clear will of the British voters to leave the EU, neither UK nor EU leaders want to see that happening. But they can’t quite figure out how to frustrate the will of the majority without being rightly accused of being undemocratic, so we continue to see the can kicked down the road. Will the UK ever leave the EU, or will people be so tired of the constant delays that their will to leave will finally be eroded?
One of the great hopes when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister was that he would finally have the power to get the UK out of the EU. But Johnson was immediately beset by defections within his own party that made it nearly impossible for him to maneuver, and his aims were frustrated. As a result he was forced to go to the EU to ask for an extension, which the EU granted. Now instead of a Halloween Brexit, we’re looking at Brexit coming at the end of January. Any guesses as to whether it will actually take place?
This continued delaying on the part of the UK and the EU is typical of the way things are done in Europe. Plebiscites that advance the EU agenda and strengthen the Union are touted as being the will of the people, and cannot be undone. Results that go against the Union’s wishes are attacked as aberrations, which are then undone by subsequent elections.
We saw that with the Netherlands and France back in 2005, as voters rejected referenda that would have seen new EU treaties put in place. Faced with that rejection, the EU went back to the drawing board with the Lisbon Treaty, an amendment rather than a whole new agreement. Freed from having to vote on it again, national governments bypassed the electorate to ratify the new treaty.
With a UK election coming up next month, will the new government try to find some new way to ignore the Brexit vote, call for a second referendum, or otherwise try to get out of leaving the EU? That seems to be what the British elites are looking for, but for now they’re just buying time while they craft an argument for why they should be allowed to reject clear electoral results. Just as with many things that governments do, the UK government will likely end up getting what it wants while the British people will likely lose out.