Brexit Secretary, David Davis, MP, said he definitely wanted a second referendum on the question of Britain’s membership of the European Union.
“I am squarely in favour of such a referendum,” he said.
He added, “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”
“In democratic nations,” said Mr Davis, “we hold regular meaningful elections where voters can stick with what they have or wipe the slate clean.”
So, according to Mr Davis, it should be possible to reverse the electorate’s decision on the European Union. That’s what democracy is all about.
But that was back in 2012, when Mr Davis was calling for a second referendum after he didn’t like the result of the first one in 1975, in which Britain decisively voted to remain a member of the European Community.
Now that Britain has had another referendum, in which the electorate very narrowly voted to leave the European Union, Mr Davis is not keen to allow anyone a chance to change their minds again.
He said last month, “The referendum result must be respected and delivered. There must be no attempt to remain in the EU, no attempt to rejoin by the backdoor and no second referendum.”
So, it seems that Mr Davis’s idea of democracy is that it’s ok to change your mind so long as it’s in favour of leaving the European Union.
Many people are changing their minds about Brexit, but Mr Davis has ruled out a second referendum to allow democracy to ‘change its mind’.
Back in 2012 Mr Davis gave a speech called, ‘Europe: It’s time to decide’. He was strongly critical of the European Union project claiming that an unelected European Commission was responsible for the laws of the EU. “That is fundamentally undemocratic,” he said.
But he appeared to have little understanding of how the EU functions. The European Commission has no power to pass laws. Only the directly elected European Parliament, in concert with the Council of Ministers, comprising the ministers of democratically elected governments of EU member states, can pass EU laws.
The EU Commission is directly responsible to the European Parliament which elects the Commission President, has a say in the choice of Commissioners, and has the democratic power to dismiss the entire Commission.
Mr Davis also claimed that the EU’s foundational principles and acquis could not be changed, and that was essentially undemocratic. It was in relation to this that Mr Davis made his comment, “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”
But that’s not correct either. The EU is a democracy, and can be anything that all its members unanimously agree it can be. If that was not the case, there would not have been so many EU treaty changes – all of which were debated and passed by our Parliament in Westminster.
It seems, however, that Mr Davis misunderstands much about the EU and the way it functions.
During this year’s EU referendum campaign, he claimed that Britain would be able to negotiate individual trade deals with each of the EU’s member states. He said then, “Post Brexit a UK-German deal would include free access for their cars and industrial goods, in exchange for a deal on everything else.”
He added, “Similar deals would be reached with other key EU nations. France would want to protect £3 billion of food and wine exports. Italy, its £1 billion fashion exports. Poland its £3 billion manufacturing exports.”
He appeared to be completely unaware that one of the main basic features of the European Union is that EU countries cannot negotiate individual trade deals and instead do so as a bloc of all its members.
Then, after Mr Davis was appointed to be the new Brexit Secretary, he boasted that Britain would be able to secure free trade areas “10 times the size” of the European Union. Liberal Democrat MEP, Catherine Bearder, had to point out that this would be 1.5 times bigger than the planet’s entire economy.
She commented, “Unless David Davis has secretly discovered new planets we can trade with, there’s no way his figure could actually be reached.”
Hopefully, as the Brexit Secretary, Mr Davis will learn more about how the EU really functions. Maybe he’ll then change his mind about Brexit. After all, isn’t the purpose of democracy to allow people to change their minds?
But Mr Davis has flatly ruled out any opportunity for democracy to change its mind about Brexit. He said that there must be no second referendum, and he stated last week that although Parliament could vote on the final Brexit deal, it would not be allowed to vote on rejecting Brexit altogether.
That does not square with the earlier assertion by Mr Davis that if a democracy cannot change its mind "it ceases to be a democracy."
For that, Mr Davis is today awarded 5 stars out of 5 for displaying double standards. *****
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#Brexit Secretary @DavidDavisMP awarded 5 stars for double standards. Please share our report: https://t.co/Vc88tczeMy pic.twitter.com/G3EXyrcwcH— Reasons2Remain (@Reasons2Remain) 11 December 2016