In a speech today, Tony Blair urged Britain to think again about Brexit. He encouraged pro-EU Britons to “rise up” to express their support for the European Union and to fight for the country’s membership.
No sooner had he opened his mouth than a chorus of pro-Brexit commentators demanded that he shut it again. Boris Johnson said that by suggesting that Britain should think again, Blair was “insulting British voters.” He continued: “I urge the British people to rise up and turn off the TV next time Tony Blair comes on with his condescending campaign.”
But such foaming objections to Blair’s speech, and the claim that it was somehow against the wishes of the electorate and therefore anti-democratic, is nonsense. The idea that Brexit now cannot be criticised or objected to ignores an essential characteristic of the open democratic society, which can be summed up in one word—flux.
It is in the nature of a democracy to be in a constant state of change. The economy is constantly shifting. People’s opinions are constantly on the move. The make-up of the population is always morphing. Society is becoming older, more diverse. Companies are created while others close. Governments stand and fall. Tax receipts, car sales, high street footfall, smoking habits, social values—all are constantly changing.