British 'globalism' challenges its democratic heritage

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to do what has become next to impossible in the United Kingdom: enact the will of the British voting public.

Shocked that a politician is actually following the voting will of the people?  His opponents are leaving no stone unturned in trying to defeat him and destroy the Conservative Party through their delusional anti-Brexit strategy.

Instead, Brexit opponents are putting their faith in an oblique institution, the European Union (E.U.), against the majority of the British people who voted to leave.  By doing whatever they can to avoid leaving, the anti-Brexit voices are disregarding and perhaps undermining the historic commitment to representative government.  Ironically, all the parties as English citizens pledged to support the referendum vote result before it was announced in June 23, 2016.  But those commitments faded quickly.  Remember, the referendum passed by 51.9% to 48.1% to remain.  The margin was substantial, with leaving the EU garnering more than 1,000,000 votes over remaining.

Two issues that dominated throughout the "leave" campaign were the sovereignty of the U.K. nation and the history of the British people.  No English citizens want to live under the rules and laws set by Brussels bureaucrats and European party officials.  Think of how Americans would feel if we allowed Brussels to decide our laws and justice.  And Britain never really bought into a continental European system of arrangements to give Germany and France discretion over Britain's more market-oriented economic regulations.  Britain even pushed back when the E.U. demanded they subordinate the British pound to the E.U. currency, the euro. 

For almost two years, the world has watched British politicians trying to ignore the citizens' decision to leave.  This is what we all dislike about politics and why support is waning for government as an institution.  There are constant calls by those who wish to "remain" to negotiate a withdrawal with the E.U.  But the E.U. never had an incentive to let the United Kingdom leave.  In fact, with several other countries thinking about also leaving the E.U., E.U. officials must extract as much angst and pain as possible from the English.  Those in Parliament who think more negotiations with the E.U. will solve the problem are not serious people.  The next thing we can expect by those opposing leaving is that the Brexit result was determined by Russian election interference. 

One thing that continues to trouble me as an outside observer is why Conservative Party members of Parliament continue to defend the failed policies of the E.U.  P.M. Johnson can still move Britain in the right direction by taking actions to force the E.U. to be transparent and accountable.  Excess, insider privileges, and unaudited programs would stir many in British society to conclude that the E.U. is over the top, wasteful, and counterproductive as a pretend global institution.  It has become a centralized authority that wants to make all the decisions for its member-country constituents.

Boris Johnson needs to stick with his commitment to leave the E.U. to reflect the popular will.  He must demand national elections so democratic voices can be heard.  I have no doubt that Brexit will prevail.  The United Kingdom must let the people decide if Johnson should remain as prime minister based on keeping his word to all the citizens.  Such a move will save the Conservative Party from a forthcoming electoral disaster and remind a small handful of elitists who think they know better than the voters and, therefore, represent the future of Britain that they don't.

Dr. David Rehr is professor and director of the Center for Business Civic Engagement at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.  Find out more about the programs of the Center at

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