Brexit: The Tectonic Plates

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Sanjay G. Reddy over at his website:

UK voters who favoured remaining may be aggrieved by what they view as a poor choice in a flawed process, by the majority of voters who might have individually or collectively acted differently on another day — if they had more time to reflect, or if more had turned out, for instance. However, those who favoured leaving might also have viewed the aspects of Europe to which they objected as being the product of poor choices in a flawed process, by citizens too deferential to institutions and to bureaucracies and given too few democratic rights. In both cases, a more subtle view of democracy, recognizing the claims of parts of the whole, and giving them fuller realization in terms of process and outcomes, was needed. For example, under the circumstances the referendum vote might have been avoided by giving the UK fuller concessions including a temporary exception from the free mobility requirement of the EU while Eastern European wages caught up sufficiently to diminish flows, but this was not acceptable to the grandees of Europe, especially as Eastern European integration had been a political as well as economic project. (It is interesting that those who view this commitment as ‘fundamental’ do not take the same view when it comes to international mobility more generally). On the other side, the referendum mechanism provided insufficient recognition of the vital interests involved, especially as they were perceived by territorial minorities such as the Scots and non-territorial minorities with vital interests, such as the young. This is a specific and unusually stark version of a more general democratic conundrum.

Of course, the need for such choices is never fated. Political decisions, such as that of the Conservatives to address the challenge from UKIP by dignifying its narrative, and the failure of Labour to provide a robust progressive case for remaining, ushered in the impossible.

More here.