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Tue Jan 15, 2019, 03:36 PM

Brexit: How could today's vote result have been avoided?

I posted this elsewhere on DU earlier, but here's an important take from a Welsh politician on Twitter (and if May had had the wisdom to take this tack over two years ago, things could have gone quite differently, even for an ardent Remainer like me). An early draft of May's major pre-vote speech from a day ago claimed that previous UK referendum results had been accepted, whereas her and her party's votes in Parliament had doggedly opposed them, to the extent that Scottish devolution was originally rejected on a technicality until a second referendum, and opposition to Welsh devolution was actually a plank in a Conservative election manifesto.

Unexpectedly, the 1997 referendum on Welsh devolution is back in the news.

Setting aside Theresa May's misremembering/rank hypocrisy [delete according to taste] concerning her own and her own party's position, the lesson of Wales 1997 is actually about 'loser's consent' 1/

Welsh devolutionists (led by Ron Davies) fully realised that there was a real legitimacy question resulting from the very narrow referendum result. They worried about it, thought about and got people like myself to brief them about it in pretty lurid terms 2/

And to the extent that these things are possible, they deliberately set about trying to generate 'loser's consent' for the result.

* By involving opponents of devolution in discussions about the internal processes that would be adopted in the new National Assembly 3/
* By being unusually cross-party in their approach during the parliamentary passage of what became the 1998 Government of Wales Act (kudos here to the Wales Office team of Ron Davies, @PeterHain and Win Griffiths)

4/
In other words, they realised that the referendum result was only a fragile mandate on which to build a new constitutional dispensation for Wales. That mandate had to be shored up. Undergirded. Supported.

5/
And the only way to do that was to be cross-party and to do what they could to reach out to and address the concerns of their opponents.

It helped, of course, that this approach 'went with the grain' of that particular ministerial team. There were also willing interlocutors

6/
But the fundamental point was that they realised that the narrowness of the referendum result meant that they simply had to make every effort to build consent among those who had been opposed as well as those who just hadn't bothered to participate in the vote.

Whole Twitter thread here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1084721238809997313.html

Instead, any attempts (e.g. by the Scottish Government) at offering constructive input into the negotiation process were rejected, and Remainers were labeled "Bremoaners" and traitors or worse.

So here we are. Is it finally time to start talking, or just abandon the whole project as the predictable disaster it obviously is?

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Reply Brexit: How could today's vote result have been avoided? (Original post)
Denzil_DC Jan 2019 OP
Voltaire2 Jan 2019 #1
Denzil_DC Jan 2019 #2
geardaddy Jan 2019 #3
Denzil_DC Jan 2019 #5
T_i_B Jan 2019 #4

Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2019, 03:40 PM

1. I for one am happy that the vote failed.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 15, 2019, 03:46 PM

2. It's a start.

The fact we're even talking about "a start" more than two and a half years after the referendum is, to be blunt, fucking ridiculous!

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Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2019, 04:23 PM

3. Jones isn't a politician

or are you referring to Davies?

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Response to geardaddy (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 15, 2019, 06:11 PM

5. Yeah, Richard Wyn Jones is technically an academic,

but he's obviously been closely involved in backroom deals as an advisor in the past, so I used "politician" as shorthand in introducing him for this OP.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2019, 05:01 PM

4. So many mistakes have been made that it's difficult to know where to start

The government refused to tell the public the difficult truths about the process to leave the EU, which allowed the hardline Brexshitter charlatans like Jacob Rees-Mogg to run rings around them and box them into a corner.

Theresa May set hopelessly impractical red lines for the negotiation.

Article 50 was triggered without preparation or due diligence. The Chequers plan may have been a lame duck of a proposal, but it should have been produced before triggering Article 50, not towards the end of the process. This is probably the part that angers me the most about all this, and there is a LOT to be angry about.

A snap election was called, which backfired on the government due to the Conservative election campaign being dreadful. This made the government reliant on the DUP, who make the likes of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage look rational in comparison. The involvement of the DUP is an ongoing obstacle to the Irish border issue being resolved, which is one of the major parts of this that people on this side of the Irish sea really don't grasp.

Britain was a deeply divided naton following the referendum. Instead of seeking to heal the wounds the government has exacerbated the problem by going out of it's way to silence and demonise dissenting "remoaner" voices, and appease the hardliners. Worst of all this is the way that experts and people such as expat groups who could have provided a constructive approach have been sidelined. Feeding the hardliners delusions has ensured that it has become impossible to pass a withdrawal agreement. It has also hugely entrenched the divisions in this country.

A good opposition party holding the government to account would have spurred the government to take a better approach to all this, but Labour under Corbyn have failed to do this for fear of losing the OAP vote in Northern England. Labour's pronouncements on the subject have in fact at times been every bit as tribal and delusional as the sort of rubbish being spouted by Tory hardliners.

In summary, a "least worst" EU withdrawal could have been agreed if the government had done a good job of preparing and taking stock of the facts. But we have the worst government since the days of George III and politicians acting in ways that would result in dismissal in any other profession. Bad politicians putting their own selfish desires above the needs of the country have created a major constitutional crisis, which is also heading towards a major economic and social crisis for this country.

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