Editorial of The New York Sun | June 27, 2016
The big danger in respect of Brexit is the backlash the left is trying to foment against Britain’s unambiguous decision for independence from the European Union. It is in the very nature of the European project to disdain democratic decisions. That is precisely one of the factors that animated the voters in the United Kingdom in the first place. If their decision is to prevail, though, it looks like it will be every man and woman to the metaphorical barricades — and constant vigilance.
That is the lesson of 2005, when France — acting through a national referendum — rejected the European Treaty. It’s all too easy to forget that moment, but what a moment it was. The treaty required unanimous consent of the European member states. President Chirac, who at the time was leading the Fifth Republic, threw every threat he could think of at the voters, including a warning that if the people voted against the treaty, “Europe would break down.”
Whatever one can say about France’s millions, though, they are not dumb. They promptly rejected the treaty, by a resounding margin. So, a month later, did the doughty Dutch. An ordinary democrat — say, an American — might have supposed that this would have ended the matter. That would have been underestimating the fundamentally anti-democratic nature of the whole European concept. The mandarins of Europe promptly enacted a treaty to override the voters.
That is known as the Lisbon Treaty, a shameful document that codifies a betrayal of democracy. It was such a scandal that the prime minister of Britain at the time, Gordon Brown, was embarrassed to show up for the signing, which took place in December 2007. After the other 26 countries inked the pact, Mr. Brown “slunk into Lisbon later in the day to add his name to the document privately, out of sight of the cameras,” as the Sun put it in an editorial at the time.
What is important to bear in mind is that the decision the British people have just made is not some impulsive whimsy. It is a deep declaration of principle after years of betrayal. We would go so far as to say the decision was inevitable after the failure of the European Constitution to receive ratification. It demands and deserves respect abroad, nowhere more than in an America which long ago made its own exit from Europe. The sooner America’s leadership, in both parties, rallies to welcome the British decision, the better the transition to British independence.