Leavers often accuse Remainers of being undemocratic as we have started to campaign for Rejoining the EU. One of the counter arguments to that accusation and perhaps the one that I most often hear is that democracy is an ongoing process and we have every right to campaign to Rejoin.
Whilst I agree with this argument, there is a serious flaw in using that argument, which is why I rarely, if ever, use it myself – It gives democratic legitimacy to the 2016 result.
The 2016 referendum was anything but democratic, indeed a few weeks ago I wrote a substantial response to the Governments rejection of our petition for a public inquiry into the referendum detailing exactly why Brexit has no legitimacy, but why was the vote in 2016 itself not democratic?
The story starts with Cambridge Analytica who stole data from Facebook which resulted in the Information Commissioner’s Office fining Facebook half a million pounds – the maximum amount allowed in pre GDPR days.
This data was then used by the Leave Campaign to psychologically manipulate voters and target them with misleading and false advertisements. The deceit and dishonesty of the Leave Campaign is perhaps best summarised by Professor Michael Dougan who described the Leave Campaign as “dishonesty on an industrial scale” and “one of the most dishonest campaigns this country has ever seen”.
In addition to this dishonesty and the illegal actions of Cambridge Analytica, the Leave Campaign itself broke the law. The Leave Campaign was fined £50,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for sending millions of text messages without consent and £120,000 for other offences relating to unlawful use of data. The Leave Campaign was also fined £61,000 by the Electoral Commission for breaching electoral law.
Democracy does not include wholescale deceit and dishonesty designed to mislead people into voting in a particular way or driving a coach and horses through both electoral law and data protection laws as the Leave Campaign has done.
We need to stop the use of any argument that legitimises the 2016 result.
It was not legitimate. It was not democratic.
Brexit is not legitimate. Brexit is not democratic.