Three weeks ago today each of us over 18 had one vote to cast in a simple decision making vote, whether to remain or leave the European Union. We all thought we knew what to expect. According to Michael Gove speaking on the Tuesday before the vote, if we elected to leave we would get our national sovereign democracy back on Friday 24th June. David Cameron meanwhile had promised on numerous occasions to see the term of his Government out and had committed to do so irrespective of how we chose to vote in the referendum.
Just under 3 weeks since Gove’s promised new dawn it is unclear if ‘we’ have gained anything. As we know we now have a new Prime Minister and all of the big ticket promises made by people like Gove, Johnson, Farage and Hoey have been disclosed as being entirely without substance. The broken promises by Vote Leave were declared by various members of their top team over the hours after the result was declared. We don’t need to wait for the £350M not to be spent on the NHS as we have been told it won’t. We don’t need to wait for announcements regarding the £4Bn a year which the EU used to return to us every year in grants to farmers etc., once we leave, none of that money is to be spent in the way in which it currently will be. Of course the cost of membership of the EU, some £13Bn will not be removed from our national budget, but what is unclear is how much not being part of the EU will cost us as David Davis and Boris Johnson set about extricating us from the EU and forming new relationships some of which will cost money to maintain, even if it is just the cost of our own bureaucracy to replace the EU structures we will leave behind.
Along with the changes to the Conservative Party structures which has been decided exclusively and unaccountably by the 330 Conservative MPs, we await the outcome of challenges on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership decided exclusively and unaccountably by 230 Labour MPs and UKIP are facing a leadership contest for leader and deputy leader. This follows the decision by Farage and Nuttall to resign. Coincidentally the Green Party are also in the process of changing their leadership as they do every 2 years. Three weeks is a long time in politics and perhaps more importantly in the life of our nation. It may be by the time that all of our parties have their Autumn conferences that things will have settled down into a rhythm that we can all recognise and even welcome. What we can be sure of is that whilst there is no suggestion that electors will be invited to give their view on the changes in the two largest parties, even though the current situation is not what either promised in their 2015 manifestos that the views of big business leaders and wealthy donors and powerful union leaders is very much being listened to. As a nation we voted, albeit by a modest margin to regain our democratic sovereignty and otherwise for business as usual. We appear to not have gained the first and definitely loss of the other. That all of these parties are making these changes without any recourse to those they claim to be accountable to, leaves me feeling that democracy as it operates in the UK no longer fits the challenges that it is having to deal with.