The Bureaucratic Paradox of Brexit

In the last few weeks and months, Brexit has been unavoidable in the UK. The debate about who is right and how to go forward has raged on so long that for many people, it’s burned them out, yet still emotions are strong enough on both sides that it can’t be easily resolved.9C6496A5-0534-4D7B-9DBE-70169E3EAD69

It is ironic I think that the process of leaving a bureaucratic, often seemingly un-democratic, large and cumbersome member organisation has resulted in such a bureaucratic, debatably-democratic and cumbersome process in the UK parliament itself.

A common demand was to “take back control” and regain pride as a sovereign state, yet somehow it is more complicated than many expected.


There are treaties and agreements and political ties that are complicated and tiring to undo and seperate. Even as politicians talk of seperating from the union, they make plans to re-connect through new trade and labour agreements with the UK’s closest neighbours.


To someone who voted Remain this could easily appear farcical. In fact I find it depressingly predictable. There was never any “control” for the country to take back; that was a myth peddled by Euroskeptics with either a naive or wilfully ignorant understanding of how power works. Power works between people and groups. Power has limits, it can’t be bought, it isn’t simple. Control is about power, and in an inter-connected world, it simply can’t achieved on your own. There will always be other people, other parties, with interests different to your own.

It is immature and naive to think that other people’s power will disappear in favour of your own. It is a mistake to underestimate the interests of other people by prioritising your own.


The mistake has been echoed in the parliamentary process again and again; people will not vote with you and for you just because it is what you want or demand.

Everyone’s interests deserve to be heard. Everyone’s interests as far as possible should aim to be met. The only interest that will be impossible to please? Self-interest. It is an oxymoron. Any organisation that aims to be democratic could not legitimately succeed in supporting the concept of favouritism, or self-serving nationalism, because by definition, those goals deny other people’s importance, and undermine the democracy they uneasily stand on.


The only way for democracy to move forward is with everyone’s interests at the table. Anything less would be simple hypocracy, and the lowest form of “control”.

EU Cartoons selected from this amazing article on the Irish Times:


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