Published by The Telegraph on 08/07/16
“Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of Article 50?”
Not quite as catchy, is it?
Still, that didn’t stop a group of pro-democracy campaigners from protesting outside the gates of Mishcon De Reya, the London law firm which intends to take legal action against the UK government if it invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without holding a vote in parliament.
Mishcon De Reya claims to represent a group of anonymous claimants made up of business leaders and academics. Of course, it’s rather fitting that Mishcon De Reya’s clients chose to remain anonymous. After all, we shouldn’t be too surprised that an anonymous group of business leaders wants to do everything possible to stop us from severing ties with the most anonymous of all groups: those unelected bureaucrats in Brussels who can never be held accountable.
The most surprising aspect of the pro-democracy protest was that there are not more like it up and down the country. Here we have a legal firm attempting to use the courts to subvert the democratic mandate of the British people. Our political system is being encroached upon by a bunch of lawyers who believe their will is morally superior to that of the UK populace. Where are the barricades?
Mishcon De Reya’s actions only reinforce the conviction of Leave voters that the state of democracy is in crisis. The EU referendum represented a mass exercise in democracy fought over months. In the weeks leading up to the vote, the UK experienced a level of political engagement not seen in years. Its result must not be thwarted by a sneaky law-firm using convoluted legal processes to undermine the aspirations of the 52 per cent of the electorate who voted Leave.
Immediately after the referendum result came through, vitriol was levied towards the political capabilities of those who voted Leave. Now, however, Mishcon De Reya’s proposed action insidiously suggests that neither Remain nor Leave voters should have a role to play in deciding their country’s future. Its attempt to rely on the legitimacy of Parliament to thwart the outcome of the referendum is an attempt to evade the moral duty of government to act on the decision of the electorate.
The law firm’s proposed challenge to the will of the people expresses disdainful disregard for the citizens who voted in the referendum. We are constantly reminded to label the UK as “a tolerant, liberal and democratic society”. But how can we proclaim this with a straight face when our very own demos faces subversion?
Democratic process is not something decided behind the closed doors of a legal chamber, but in the polling station. People in their millions voted on 23 June. The message sent out by Mishcon De Reya is that we shouldn’t have bothered to leave our front doors, let alone the European Union.
17.5 million UK citizens voted to leave the EU – the largest mandate in British political history. If Mishcon De Reya think the British people are going to sit back and let their voice be silenced, they had better be ready for us to shout.
We need to invoke Article 50 NOW.