Brexit and the Junocracy
Brexit fans claim be democrats when they rail against the slightest obstacle placed in the path of leaving the EU. They are not democrats – they are Junocrats. Junocracy is the belief that, following the disgusting referendum campaign this year – a campaign that earned Britain (itself a polity in a state of terminal fragmentation) the deserved contempt of the entire world, the month of June 2016 produced an electoral result which has a truth claim beyond any other political truth claim.
Junocracy claims that June 23 2016 IS Britain (or whatever is left of it), now and forever.
No matter that the whole concept of the referendum was an absurd “cart before the horse” affair in which people were being asked to vote for a bare statement without any idea of how such a statement was to be implemented in practice.
No matter that the “Leave” campaign was based on the most egregious and transparent of lies – lies which only got louder as they were calmly and repeatedly refuted – the £350000000 a week lie, the European army lie, and the Turkey joining the EU (and then moving its entire population to Swindon) lie.
No matter that 17 million voters still represents a minority of eligible voters and less than a third of the humans living in the UK.
No matter that polls now show a majority in favour of wanting to stay in the EU.
No matter that given the age profile of voters, numbers of predominantly leave voters are (in the natural course of events) dying each day while numbers of predominantly remain supporters are (in the natural course of events) appearing as eighteen year old voters on the register each day.
No, for Junologists, the 51.9% vote in favour of leaving the EU recorded on June 23 2016 represents the most sacred and inviolable expression of the collective will of the British people that ever was or ever will be. This 51.9% on a day in June now is the very definition of a thing called “The British People” and anyone who dissents no longer deserves to be considered as a viable UK citizen.
Theresa May, herself a Remainer, has sacrificed all sense of personal integrity in favour of an overriding need to assert her leadership by outflanking Tory Europhobes. She has managed to simulaneously reduce yet inflate 48.1% of the June voters into a 1% style sinister elite with sinister and disproportionate powers. This is despite the fact that Junocrats now form the government and control nearly all of the popular press.
Even Remainers are now Junologists – or dare not directly challenge Junocratic orthodoxy. Both Gordon Brown and Hilary Benn both declared a couple of days ago that it would be wrong to use parliament to challenge the referendum result and that “we are definitely leaving the EU”.
The woman who spearheaded the legal challenge to the Government’s claim that it could use crown prerogative powers to invoke article 50 without parliament’s approval is herself now the target of death threats. Slowing down Brexit with more discussion, or admitting the sovereignty of parliament are in violation of strict Junocratic principles.
Democrats, real democrats, are something other than majoritarian enforcers. Democracy is (when it works) a discursive ongoing process. The Junocrats, however, who as I say control both the government and the popular press, are convinced that further deliberation represents an attack by some sinister and powerful elite to subvert the sacred authority of Junocracy when “we” voted to leave the EU.
Many people who voted Remain are looking for nothing more than an expression of grief. They feel impoverished and diminished ever since June, when they were bereaved of their European citizenship. But Junocrats are intolerant not merely of debate regarding the shape of Brexit – insisting that the bare wording of the referendum question commits everyone in the UK to the unquestioning acceptance of the harshest and most complete interpretation of separation from the EU – but also of any expression of sadness or regret. Even pointing out the cost (economic, political, aesthetic, and emotional) of Brexit is an offence to the holy month of June.
To theorise the Junocratic attitude to Europhile grief will, I think, require the assistance of Sophocles and Judith Butler.