Imagine, just for one brief moment, that the outcome of the referendum on June 23rd had been the other way round – same percentages, but with Remain winning. Does anyone believe, for one moment, that those who believe that the UK should leave the EU would have simply shrugged their shoulders, accepted defeat, and moved on? Or that UKIP would have dissolved itself (through a formal process rather than the chaos with which they currently seem to be achieving the same end), and Euro peace would have broken out in the Conservative Party? It’s a nice thought, but it’s well divorced from reality, isn’t it?
But, effectively, acceptance that a one-off decision is final and irrevocable is what the actual winners now expect of the losing side; they expect others to display an approach and attitude which they would never have displayed themselves. ‘The people have spoken’, they declare, and everyone who disagrees must now shut up and throw themselves with enthusiasm into achieving what the majority decided.
That would be bad enough if it were only coming from the extremists in the Leave camp; but it isn’t. Even the UK Prime Minister is saying much the same thing, despite having claimed in advance that this outcome was the wrong one for the UK – and not just saying it, but going out of her way to try and close off any options for reversing the decision. Even worse are the headlines in some of the tabloids; intolerance of dissent on this issue is rapidly becoming the accepted norm, even to the extent of pillorying judges for the ‘crime’ of upholding the constitutional position that domestic UK law cannot be changed other than by act of parliament, which is, in essence, all that they actually decided.
It increasingly feels as though they’re trying to take us back into some sort of ‘golden age’ where people knew their place and believed what they were told to believe; a time when Britannia ruled the waves and the sun never set. Restoring that overseas ‘glory’ is, fortunately, well beyond their capability (even if they don’t yet all realise that), but domestically, we’re seeing what amounts to a form of bullying of anyone with an alternative view, as a means of achieving that end. But the way to tackle bullies isn’t by giving in to them.