So we found out officially today that the Leave campaign broke the law. It has been fined and its crimes – specifically colluding with another campaign – and the founder of BeLeave alongside the Agent for Vote Leave have rightly been referred to the Police for investigation.
We have been hearing for several years now about the importance of Parliamentary sovereignty and Britain being able to “make its own rules” (despite any trade agreement with the EU meaning that we will have to be rule-takers, and the Great Repeal Act enshrining all of their laws into ours).
The reaction in Parliament and on social media from those who backed Leave has been quite the sight. They’re crying foul, suggesting that the Cameron administration should be held equally accountable for a leaflet which also gave Leave its say. It’s almost as though they’re suggesting that Cameron actually broke any rules, or that their own voters are dense enough not to be able to read an entire booklet.
They also have been suggesting that exactly the same tactics were employed by Remain and that the Electoral Commission – the independent body responsible for looking after our democratic laws – are in some way bent.
In essence, they are blaming everyone but their own campaign.
What this breaking of the law has shown is that the Leave campaign couldn’t even properly run its own books. We are apparently supposed to trust the proponents of these people with the future of our country. Personally, I can’t square that.
But here’s the rub: Sovereignty and the rule of law go hand-in-hand. If Leave campaigners and voters truly believe in what they wanted, then they must accept that their campaign undermined the very principles of democracy. Democracy – or, more precisely, overspending, possible Russian interference and Cambridge Analytica – is what they hide behind when they say that the referendum result was clear and fair.
We now know that it was neither.
Parliamentarians tonight defending the actions of Leave or trying to deflect their own campaign’s disgraceful acts onto the Remain campaign are not fond of democracy or the rule of law. They’re fond of getting their way.
Where does this lead? With the Government sweeping by on Labour votes and having lost one vote in the Commons tonight on medicines, is it time that we finally admit that, at the end of all of this mess, we give the people the final say?
That would be the ultimate acid test as to whether Brexiteers really do believe in fair and free democracy.