John Tasioulas and Jonathan Wolf at the TLS:
Does the ferocity of the Brexit debate reveal different conceptions of the nature and value of democracy? Brexiteers proudly talk as if the 2016 vote was a rare paradigm of real democracy – “the largest democratic exercise in our history” – while Remainers respond that majority voting by the electorate is only a small part of our democratic system. In a representative democracy, our elected representatives can and should scrutinize the result of an “advisory” referendum as they scrutinize anything else. So why should a referendum result be “respected” if the democratically elected politicians were to decide that, all things considered, it is not in the country’s best interests? On the other hand, Brexiteers will respond that if parliament can overturn the result, what was the point of the referendum in the first place?
It might seem, then, that the Brexit debate is a debate about democracy itself: what it is, why it is valuable, and how it should work.