Since the 2016 European Union referendum, hardline Remainers have refused to respect the result, calling for the vote to be ignored and for a “People’s Vote” to be held, with the ability to reverse the result and instead Remain in the EU. They have frequently pointed to polling showing Remain with a slender lead, claiming that Remain would win a second referendum (even though Remain led in the polls the day before the 2016 vote). Most Remainers, although worryingly not all, assure us that if Leave were to win again they would happily respect the result. Their assertion that the UK is now a “Remain country” is to ignore the results from the UK’s most recent elections. The UK has had five “People’s Votes” in the past five years, and Brexiters have won all of them. The mandate to Leave the EU stems from all of these victories.
The first of the Brexiter victories came in the 2014 European Parliament elections. UKIP, led by Nigel Farage, emerged as the largest party in six of the UK’s twelve electoral regions, taking 27% of the nationwide popular vote. The party won 24 seats in the European Parliament, and became the first party other than Labour or Conservative to win a nationwide election since the 1906 General Election.
Following the EU elections, there were a couple of high profile defections from the Conservatives to UKIP, namely Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell. For Westminster votes, UKIP also continued to poll at around 15% nationally, forcing the Conservatives to take a more eurosceptic approach going into the 2015 General Election. In a bid to lure some of these voters into supporting the Conservatives, and to prevent any more defections, David Cameron campaigned on a eurosceptic basis and promised to hold an In/Out referendum on EU membership should he win a majority.
Opinion polling going into the election had Labour and the Conservatives each on 34%, meaning a hung Parliament seemed certain. However the Conservatives won a surprise victory, taking 37% of the national vote and 330 seats, a working majority of 12. Pollsters had underestimated the Conservative vote, and Brexiters had won their referendum on the European Union in a second “People’s Vote”.
David Cameron’s pledge ensured the Conservatives passed the European Union Referendum Act with the support of all parties except the SNP by the end of 2015. On 23rd June 2016 the people of the UK voted on whether to Remain a member of the European Union or Leave, and voted decisively to Leave.
Brexiters had won the third People’s Vote, and David Cameron resigned. Theresa May took over as leader of the Conservative Party and as Prime Minister, and triggered Article 50 on 29th March 2017.
By April 2017, the Conservatives had opened up a poll lead of 20%, and Theresa May announced there would be a snap General Election, despite her promising not to call one. The Conservatives published a manifesto promising that the EU referendum vote would be honoured, and that the UK would be leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market, but would seek a “deep and special partnership” with the EU. The Labour Party also said it would also leave the Single Market and Customs Union, but promised to retain the benefits of being in them by ditching the Conservative’s strategy and come up with a new set of negotiating priorities. The Liberal Democrats and Green Party both campaigned to leave the EU but remain in the Customs Union and Single Market.
The results of the 2017 General Election were striking. Labour and the Conservatives both increased their vote share, polling their highest combined vote share since 1970. Labour polled 40% for the first time since 2001, and the Conservatives polled 42.4%, their highest vote share since 1983. Although the Conservatives lost their overall majority, an arrangement with the DUP allowed them to form a small working majority after the election. All in all, 82% of the public had voted for parties promising to deliver Brexit by leaving the Customs Union and Single Market. Conversely, the parties campaigning for a softer Brexit (or to abandon Brexit entirely) saw their vote share fall, with the Greens, Liberal Democrats and Green Party all hemorrhaging votes. The fourth “People’s Vote” had given yet another clear instruction to Leave.
The Conservatives were ultimately not able to deliver a Withdrawal Agreement which could pass through the House of Commons, and repeatedly extended the process to avoid leaving without one. The UK was therefore forced to take part in the European Parliament elections in 2019. Brexit dominated the elections, with many seeing it as a second referendum on the issue.
The result of this 5th “People’s Vote” in five years was another resounding victory for Leave voters, and a howl of rage against the mainstream parties who had failed to implement the 2016 referendum. The Conservatives, who had failed to deliver Brexit, slipped to fifth place (behind the Green Party), polling only 9%. Labour, with their ambiguous Brexit position, did only marginally better, polling 13.6%. Voters from both main parties drifted towards a new Brexit Party formed by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, which won the election by a landslide – an astounding achievement considering the party was only 3 months old at the time of polling.
Parties who in the past supported a “softer” Brexit and changed their position to Remain also saw an increase in fortunes, with the Liberal Democrats and Green Party also stealing voted from Labour and the Conservatives. However the Brexit Party was head and shoulders above the rest – gaining almost two million votes more than any other party, and winning 29 seats in the European Parliament (40% of the seats available), more than the second and third placed Liberal Democrats and Labour combined.
When undemocratic Remainers say that they do not respect the 2016 vote to Leave the EU and instead want to hold a “People’s Vote”, they are not rejecting the mandate of just one vote, they are rejecting five separate instances of popular Eurosceptic expression. Remainer victories in any of the previous five “People’s Votes” since 2014 could’ve seriously scuppered the Brexit process, defeated the Leave vote, or even prevented a referendum from occurring in the first place.
Their continued failure is due to one persistent fact – the UK is, and has been for some time, a Eurosceptic country in favour of leaving the EU.
This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog: https://joelrwrites.wordpress.com/2019/08/12/weve-already-had-five-peoples-votes-and-brexiters-won-all-of-them/