When more democracy isn't more democratic

To hear some British politicians tell it, they are mere servants. They can only execute popular will, whatever the cost to the country or themselves. To do otherwise would be to betray democracy itself.

"The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered," former prime minister David Cameron said after voters narrowly approved leaving the European Union in a 2016 referendum, though this meant both his resignation and, in his telling, devastation to the British economy.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'When more democracy isn't more democratic'. Print Edition | Subscribe