Brexit campaigners won by dividing, not uniting, the British working class. Peter Hallward teaches philosophy at Kingston University, and is the author of a forthcoming book entitled The Will of the People and the Struggle for Popular Sovereignty.This essay first appeared in Jacobin.
There’s been a lot of talk, the last few days, about the need to respect “the sovereign will of the British people.” A simple question was asked, a simple answer was recorded.
Like the main party leaders on both sides of the referendum, most commentators on the Left seem to agree with Owen Jones, that whatever happens there can be no argument for “reversing the expressed democratic will of the British people — what is done is done.”
The people have spoken. Don’t the basic principles of democracy require that our government now simply do what we’ve told it to do?
First published in Libération. Translated by David Broder.
Far be it from me to minimise the dramatic consequences the UK’s vote will have for the British as well as for Europe. But I am struck by the way in which the French and foreign newspaper headlines present us how things are "After Brexit…" With very few exceptions all of them seem to take it for given that a divorce has indeed taken place. In reality, while we are certainly entering into a turbulent period, the outcome is not at all clear.