In Brussels at the invitation of Full Circle, Grayling spoke to EURACTIV.com’s Samuel White.
The British public voted to leave, so why do you not believe the government has a mandate to take the UK out of the European Union?
The thing that really makes my hair stand on end is when people use phrases like ‘the British public’ or ‘the people’. Just look at the sheer numbers. Firstly, you have to accept that the franchise for the EU referendum was restricted. It excluded 16 and 17-year-olds, ex-pats who had been abroad for more than 15 years and EU citizens working and paying taxes in the UK. These three groups of people, by the way, would probably have the most material interest in the outcome of an EU referendum and they were excluded. This was a deliberate, conscious decision, which has the smell of gerrymandering about it.
So on a restricted electorate, the 51.9% vote for Leave represents 37% of that total electorate, representing about 26% of the total population.
When people use expressions like ‘the people have spoken’ or ‘the British public has voted to leave’ and so on, they are talking nonsense. This is a very narrow interpretation of the British people.