The New York Times headline reads, "‘We’re in the Last Hour’: Democracy Itself Is on Trial in Brexit, Britons Say."
As I'm going through the article, over on LBC radio, London, callers are having their say on whether the UK needs electoral reform, an end to "first past the post." Here's what NYT reports:
The whole world of Britain’s Parliament — its effete codes of conduct, its arcane and stilted language, its reunions of Oxbridge school chums — seemed impossibly remote from the real, unfolding national crisis of Brexit, the process of extricating the country from the European Union.
Over the past weeks, as factions within the British government have grappled for control over the country’s exit from the bloc, the mood among voters has become dark.
Those Britons who wished to remain are reminded, daily, that a risky and momentous national change is being initiated against their will and judgment. More striking is the deep cynicism among those who voted to leave, the group that Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to satisfy. They are now equally bitter and disillusioned, as the government’s paralysis has called into question whether Britain will ever leave.
In interviews, many Britons expressed despair over the inability of the political system to produce a compromise. No one feels that the government has represented their interests. No one is satisfied. No one is hopeful.
It has amounted to a hollowing out of confidence in democracy itself.
“I don’t think the central institutions of government have been discredited like this in the postwar period,” said William Davies, who teaches political economy at Goldsmiths, University of London.
...The referendum question has divided Britain into warring tribes, unable to settle on any shared vision of the future. An ancient, robust democracy is groaning under the weight of conflicting demands — on the executive, to carry out the will of the people; and on the members of Parliament, to follow their conscience and to act in what they believe to be the people’s interest.
In such a situation, the country might have united in its resentment of the European Union, which had vowed to make Britain’s withdrawal painful. But that has not happened. Britons are blaming their own leaders.
“I think people have totally lost confidence in democracy, in British democracy and the way it’s run,” said Tommy Turner, 32, a firefighter. He was perched on a stool at the Hare & Hounds, a working-class pub in Surrey, where nearly everyone voted to leave the European Union. Among his friends, he said, he sensed a profound sense of betrayal that Britain was not exiting on March 29, as promised.