It’s hardly rare for The Daily Mail to print something controversial. With sensationalist headlines so frequently stoking hatred and division, so openly xenophobic and opposed to even basic human decency, it’s perhaps easy for subtler and more subliminal messages to slip through the cracks unnoticed.
A very British Brexit?
One such example would be Dan Hodges, writing for The Mail on Sunday, who seemed to suggest that Brexit should be the realisation of policies pioneered by the British National Party (BNP):
In 2009 a million people voted for the BNP. ‘Are you listening to us?’ they said. In 2015 four million voted for Ukip. ‘Are you listening to us now?’ they said. In June, 17 million voted for Brexit. ‘OK, are you listening to us now?’ they asked.
There is not a lot of room for misinterpretation in that statement. In Hodges’ mind, a vote for Brexit was effectively an extension of a vote for the BNP. He refers to both groups of voters collectively as ‘us’, believing them of one ethos.
Worse still, he suggests acceptance of anything less than a ‘Hard Brexit’ would be justified in sparking a “revolution”. And a “nasty” one at that:
One can’t help but wonder what that revolution might look like? Lynching of foreigners?
Hodges argues that MPs who wish to ‘slow down’, and not rush into triggering Article 50 before carefully assessing what it actually means, are akin to children playing up – sticking “their fingers in their ears”. Essentially, that those in positions of responsibility for enacting huge geopolitical changes should set aside their own reason or sense of caution, and instead be cajoled by an angry mob. ‘Mob-rule’ is not typically conceived to be a good thing. It specifically describes a situation whereby principles of fairness and morality are lost to contagious and vengeful populism, often motivated by ignorance.
That is not what democracy is. And certainly not what it should be in a world where levels of political consciousness and education are nowhere near as high as they should be. Democracy is a way of ensuring people’s views and desires are represented, with safeguards in place to protect the populace and mankind as a whole – sometimes even from themselves. I’d like to think if the UK held a referendum tomorrow on whether we should start a war with Russia, for example, and it somehow insanely came back in favour by only a whisker, there would still be politicians willing to step in and veto the decision at all costs.
Besides, when the UK actually does vote down government proposals, such as fracking, they ignore us anyway. You can’t help but question whether Brexit was what Theresa May really wanted all along.
False evidence usually means a mistrial
But what I really can’t get my head round is that Dan Hodges claims to have “argued passionately” against Brexit. Judging from his attitudes in this article, it’s like going from being a vegan to a butcher.
In his very first paragraph, Hodges makes a bold claim:
Seriously, what will it take to make our politicians finally understand? Strikes? Civil disobedience? A very British coup? Four months ago the British people did precisely what they were asked to do. They listened to the competing Brexit voices. They weighed up the arguments. And then they went to the polls – 33 million of them – and they delivered their verdict.
Bandying about the figure of 33 million hardly takes account of the 16 million who didn’t vote for Brexit. A percentile mandate isn’t somehow made stronger by including all those who voted against it too.
Not to mention, since the fateful morning of June 24, it has gradually come out that many of those “Brexit voices” were spouting grotesque inaccuracies. Many of the supposed arguments in favour of exiting the European Union were virtually made up, like whopping great slogans plastered on the side of buses, promising £350m to the NHS. Instead, it seems the plan is actually to strip away half of NHS staffing over the next ten years, rooting out the ‘unwanted foreigners’. Perhaps even those hard-working foreigners who’ve potentially spent decades in our country, caring for the British populace.
It is inaccurate to describe arguments as having been “weighed up” when they’ve since proved to be false. If the matter was to be decided by a court of law, and pivotal evidence informing a verdict was found to be fraudulent, there’d be no question. The case would require a retrial. No court could ever be seen to enforce a legally binding decision based upon false evidence. But pose that argument regarding the promises made of Brexit, you’re liable to be smeared as ‘unpatriotic’, a ‘remoaner’, and/or told to ‘get with the programme’.
Nonetheless, it’s clear some UK residents are beginning to question the wisdom of their vote on 23 June, as pertinent details come to light. It certainly seems unlikely more people would vote for Brexit again, now some of the terribly gloomy repercussions are becoming evident. Dogged insistence that the result should be enforced regardless of current consensus, or emerging economic repercussions, does not seem sensible. Not everyone who voted for Brexit was motivated solely by a desire to see foreigners rounded up, identified by their employers, and possibly deported. In fact, I dare say a good many are pretty horrified by the forecast now on the horizon: a far-right Conservative government that even a UKIP MEP recently deemed as extreme.
A very British coup
Hodges suggests a deliberate coup might be necessary, if the relevant politicians do not enact his own personal interpretation of Brexit Britain. But many feel a coup has already taken place in the UK. The referendum of 23 June addressed the UK’s future within the EU. It categorically did not bestow legitimacy upon a far-right wing of the Conservative Party, who have since seized the reins of government by default. In fact, not a single British citizen has yet been allowed a vote on what party or politicians should be governing post-Brexit Britain, other than those within the Conservative Party itself.
From what we have seen of May’s leadership so far, she doesn’t seem particularly inclined to allow anyone else a say in her vision of post-Brexit Britain. Not even her own MPs. “Don’t worry your little heads about it. I’ll take it from here”. That could easily be May’s catchphrase.
But it is Hodges’ call to arms that I found most disturbing. The Daily Mail is paving the way and virtually inviting civil strife, if anything other than the terms of a one-way, BNP-influenced ‘Hard Brexit’ are enforced. No room for compromise or mediation. No negotiation, no consideration for those who might be adversely affected and, least of all, a re-evaluation. Just immediate severance, whatever the cost.
Otherwise, there might well be a ‘revolution’. And it will be entirely the fault of ‘remoaners’.
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