British voters in June 2016, more than three years ago, voted to leave rather than remain in the European Union. Turnout was huge; discussion was thorough, and dominated by the pro-“Remain” leaders of all parties and the pro-“Remain” BBC. Nonetheless, some 52% of British voters voted for leave — a larger number than have ever voted for any party in the nation’s history.
Yet, Britain hasn’t left yet, for reasons set out by Christopher Caldwell in the Claremont Review of Books. Johnson’s feckless predecessor, Theresa May, made unilateral concessions to EU negotiators, guided by pro-remain career civil servants. The Commons rejected her agreements three times by nearly 2-to-1. She effectively abandoned the alternative that Britain would leave without a deal, reverting to WTO trade rules.
Johnson has said he’ll negotiate with the EU but, absent an agreement, will leave on the Oct. 31 date which Parliament voted and revised the parliamentary schedule to facilitate that.
Remainers in Parliament and the press attacked his determination to carry out voters’ solemn verdict as “undemocratic.” Some called for a “unity” government, as if a position rejected by voters could forge unity. They routinely dismissed “Leave” voters as ignorant, bigoted, or manipulated by campaign trickery. The two lead editorials in the pro-“Remain” Economist incongruously lament voters’ cynicism and yet urge overturning voters’ Brexit verdict.