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Friday 1 July 2016, Rossa Minogue

Brexit: the battle for democracy starts here

Podcast: listen to this week's public event in London.

Seventeen million people voted to leave the EU last Thursday, an historically important democratic moment. Yet there are already attempts to thwart or row back from this decision. Many have signed a petition urging a second referendum so that voters can give the ‘right answer’; others threaten the vote with lawyers and bureaucratic challenges. There is contempt for voters who effectively revolted against an establishment that told them they should vote Remain. There seems to be a special brand of bigotry aimed at white working-class voters, with talk of ‘sewers’, and sections of the electorate being castigated for their ignorance and xenophobia. Others seek to stir up a distasteful generational revolt, prompting some younger Remain voters to turn on anyone over 60 with vicious accusations of selfishness and betrayal.

This should be a moment that feels pregnant with possibilities, opening up chances for shaping the future. And yet many feel scared — genuinely scared. Uncertainty and change can be disconcerting. Democracy has been revealed as more than a paper exercise: people now know it has very real consequences.

How should we interpret the vote for Brexit? What should democrats do to ensure that popular sovereignty is not squandered? How can we best shape positive developments in future months, and ensure that this democratic moment is not neutralised?

At this meeting held earlier this week, organised by the Institute of Ideas and spiked, Professor Frank Furedi, author of Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right and Authority: A Sociological History, gives an opening talk and Claire Fox, Director of the Institute of Ideas responds. Tom Slater, deputy editor of spiked, introduces and chairs.


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