That a rather large number of Britons don’t understand this democracy experiment is obviously true given the number who keep insisting we shouldn’t leave the European Union. Well, OK, insisting that it’s all a mistake is obviously compatible with democracy – electing Jezza PM would be a mistake but it would be democratic after all. But that a large number wish to overturn something we’ve already had a referendum about, that is indeed to be missing the point of the experiment, of having the properly counted vote in the first place.
So it is with this petition:
A petition calling for Theresa May to cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50 has passed two million signatures. Parliament’s petitions committee tweeted that the rate of signatures was “the highest the site has ever had to deal with”, after the website crashed. EU leaders in Brussels have reached agreement on a plan to delay Brexit beyond 29 March. Downing Street said the prime minister “has said many times she will not countenance revoking Article 50”.
Theresa there is right. For we’ve a number of different ways of measuring what it is the people want. Democracy being that system whereby the people get what they want, good and hard.
We can, for example, have representative democracy, where we vote for people who go and do all the worrying for us. We can have opinion polls where we try to divine what people want. We can have petitions like this, as we do. But trumping all of those is when we have a specific vote on a specific issue – a referendum. Because that gives us the straight answer to that question of what actually is it that the people want?
We did this on Brexit and the expressed will of the plurality is that we Leave. No petition changes that.
Then there’s this other point of course:
By Friday, the petition, called “Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU,” had more than three million signatures, and the numbers continued to grow. But on Thursday, the Petitions Committee in Parliament apologized profusely and repeatedly after the website went down under the strain of the response to the popular initiative.
More than 3 million voted to leave. Here only 3 million are calling, by petition, to remain. They’re still 14 million votes short even if we pay attention to something as easily gamed as an online petition.