Author: Jeffrey Ketland

Remain vs Leave: Elite Technocracy vs Liberal Democracy

The debate between “Remainers” and “Leavers” over the United Kingdom’s referendum on 23 June 2016 about European Union membership focused on several themes. I list what I think are the four most important: the first being democracy and sovereignty; the second being alleged good or bad economic consequences; immigration; and finally, cultural ties and cosmopolitanism. Here I argue that this referendum illustrates a central debate in political philosophy about the relation of the individual to the state. In the referendum itself, a slim majority, 52% to 48%, voted for the UK to leave the EU, the so-called “Brexit”. It’s worth adding that the EU and its constituent parts should be distinguished from a number of other European supranational bodies, such as the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. I was undecided about the vote. In the end, I did not vote, although I leaned slightly towards Remain, thinking the potential economic downside of Brexit outweighed the democratic and accountability deficit of the UK’s remaining in the EU. There are …