“It is dismaying that most of the binding law in Britain comes from the European Commission in Brussels.”
– George F. Will
To the right of this editorial lies a column by George F. Will who explains, as aptly as is possible, the mess that the U.K. and by proxy its prime minister Theresa May find themselves in, relative to Brexit.
The column is especially timely because today (Tuesday) the British Parliament will vote on whether to support the “May Compromise” that would move the country toward disentangling itself from the European Union and, as they are now commonly called, the “bullies from Brussels,” who seem to have a voracious appetite for inserting themselves in what were once thought to be the sovereignty of nation states.
Quoting Mr. Will, who in turn was quoting Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1988: “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels.”
It was that sentiment of nationalism that led yet another prime minister of the U.K., David Cameron, to attempt to shut up the Thatcherites once and for all on the issue of de-annexing England from the whole of Europe. Mr. Cameron made the biggest – and most ill-conceived – bet of his life. He engineered a referendum to “let the people decide,” and in June 2016, they decided.
By a vote of 52 to 48 percent, the plebiscite (a.k.a. the “people”) of the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. They didn’t vote to negotiate, they didn’t vote to dilly or to dally. They voted to leave.
Prime Minister May, however, was not among their ranks. Her sentiment and position was, in fact, to stay (or, in the parlance of the moment, she was a “remainer.”) Nevertheless, given the unfathomable topography of British politics, she found herself in the untenable position of first being against Brexit before she was duty-bound to support it.
That is the lose-lose position she now finds herself in.
At the Compass, the publisher/editor recently opined that the newspaper might have the wrong reporters covering the Brexit drama. Certainly they are knowledgeable and competent, but when the editor suggested that artist/marine biologist Guy Harvey might be a better choice, his remarks elicited nothing by blank stares in the newsroom.
Guy Harvey? Why Guy Harvey?
Simply because Guy Harvey happens be one of the world’s foremost experts on sharks, and Brexit has become a shark story more than merely a political melee. The blood is in the water, in this case the English Channel, and the sharks on both sides of the Brexit issue – from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to Conservative Boris Johnson – want Theresa May’s job. She may not know it yet, but regardless of how the vote goes in Parliament today, she’s finished.
All of this, of course, is (or should be) of great interest to all of us in Cayman. After all, we are in the passenger seat (as are all the British territories) with these ambitious incompetents at the wheel.
But even more so, Cayman at this moment appears enamored with an ever-expanding array of people’s petitions, referenda and a general, but misguided, belief in governance via anonymous blogs and cranky calls to radio talk shows.
Again, we pass the podium to columnist Will:
“The bedrock principle of representative government is that ‘the people’ do not decide issues, they decide who shall decide. And once a legislature sloughs off responsibility and resorts to a referendum on the dubious premise that the simple way to find out what people want is to ask them, it is difficult to avoid recurring episodes of plebiscitary democracy.”
We imagine Prime Ministers Cameron (former) and May (soon to be former) would weep if they were to read Mr. Will’s words in today’s column.