Europe, Politics, World Affairs

The Case Against a Second EU Referendum

The possibility of a second referendum offers, to many, a tantalizing prospect of rescue from political deadlock. Since Parliament cannot decide on a deal and largely refuses to contemplate “No Deal,” this argument goes, we should allow the people to “choose” once more.

Barrister Oliver Conolly has offered a well-written and thoughtful case for a second referendum here on Quillette, which acknowledges some of the flaws that advocates of this plan often ignore.

Yet his analysis, in my view, suffers several major drawbacks. I will discuss these in loose categories, starting with the least important before broadening my analysis out to more substantive complaints.

Bias

The first category consists of examples of bias. To his credit, Conolly restricts his discussion to the official campaign groups in the 2016 referendum, rather than appealing to the excesses of the unofficial campaign groups. Yet he still maintains that the Leave campaign was more deceitful than Remain—a debatable proposition. Conolly also uses the loaded term “People’s Vote” throughout the article—not always in inverted commas. As numerous objectors have pointed out, participants in the 2016 referendum weren’t animals. At times, he indulges in obvious snobbery, e.g. referring to “Some of the more intellectually sophisticated Brexiteers.” This is precisely the kind of pompous, technocratic elitism that led to Remain’s defeat in the first place.

Advisory or Binding?

In examining the ongoing question over the nature of the referendum, Conolly notes: “If the result of referendum was not legally binding, there is no room to interpret it as ‘politically’ binding.”

This view surely overlooks key parliamentary decisions taken since that time. Not only did Parliament pass the Referendum Act by a huge majority in 2015, which committed the UK to an In/Out referendum, the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision re: Miller very quickly forced parliament to approve the result of the referendum, which they did with a majority of 384 votes. This moved the electorate’s vote to Leave from “advisory” to one with clear parliamentary approval.

Parliament rejected an amendment to the Withdrawal Bill requiring the government to hold a further referendum by 319 votes to 23, and even amendments on maintaining aspects of EU membership, such as the Customs Union, have been roundly defeated. In other words, Parliament has had multiple chances to revisit the question, yet has chosen to commit itself to Leave as a default position. We have also had a General Election since the referendum in which parties pledging to uphold the result of the 2016 EU referendum secured the overwhelming majority of the votes cast.

Many would argue that the referendum process sent clear instructions to MPs that they should support the decision made by a majority of voters, even if formalities didn’t require them to. Either way, Conolly takes an unreasonable view of the public’s legitimate expectations of the referendum and its implications. He notes: “The key question with regard to issue of betrayal is not, ‘Would people feel betrayed if there was a ‘People’s Vote?’ but ‘Would they be justified in feeling so betrayed?’”

Conolly quotes a speech from David Lidington—then the Europe Minister—in the House of Commons before the referendum supporting the view of the referendum as “advisory,” but other ministers made contradictory remarks—even in that same debate. For instance, Philip Hammond (then-foreign secretary) said: “Decisions about our membership should be taken by the British people, not by Whitehall bureaucrats, certainly not by Brussels Eurocrats; not even by Government Ministers or parliamentarians in this Chamber…”

Perhaps voters missed these remarks, but similar lines were repeated on widely-viewed televised debates, by David Cameron, George Osborne and key figures from both of the official campaigns—not to mention in the infamous government leaflet stating, “The government will implement what you decide.”

Yet Conolly argues that the population would have no justified sense of betrayal because they should have recognized the government’s promise was not theirs to make (despite hardly anyone mentioning this before the vote). Here, the author can be accused of not living in the real world. Given the examples outlined above, it is hard to see how any sensible onlooker could expect voters not to view the referendum as binding. This would require people to have a perfect constitutional understanding (and rather clairvoyant, given the divergence of expert opinion before the supreme court settled it in Miller).

Putting this aside, the practical consequences of a sense of betrayal would occur whether Connolly believes them justified or not. There is no doubt that a second referendum would lead to a huge loss of faith in the democratic process, especially considering how many of the voters in 2016 were voting for the first time in decades.

Use of Precedent

Mr. Conolly asks, reasonably, whether the unique character of the 2016 referendum should lead to a second vote—something previously raised by some advocates of Brexit. He then cites the practices of the US and Germany, whose lawmakers require two thirds majorities to amend their constitution, to imply that a simple majority was insufficient to decide such a momentous matter.

This is where the analysis becomes more tenuous. Citing America and Germany ignores not only that referendums play no part in their politics, but the emerging precedents for the conduct of referendums in Britain. These include the 2014 Scottish referendum and the original referendum on EU membership in 1975, and often-overlooked examples like the Welsh devolution referendum in 1997, which was won with a margin of just 0.6% (6,721 votes). Though Conolly asserts that the 2016 Referendum somehow differs from these examples, becausethere are many different ways of leaving the EU”, there are surely many different ways of, for instance, Scotland establishing itself as an independent nation.

While the 1998 devolution referendums and the 2011 AV referendum were on “specific” proposals, the most directly analogous referendum (1975) was conducted on exactly the same terms as 2016—as was the 2014 Scottish Referendum. In both cases, winning by a single vote was all that was needed. Whatever your view on the topic, it is disingenuous to submit only after the vote that the margin for change should have been higher. Though this might be the case in the future, such issues should be discussed and decided, in good faith, beforehand—rather than cynically moving the goalposts after the event.

The ‘No Deal’ Conundrum

Conolly moves on to discussing potential choices in a Second Referendum where he concludes that a ‘No Deal’ option should be ruled out immediately. His rationale is partly because it is, he believes, too uncertain; less “specific” than either the option of Remain or the PM’s deal. Yet it is not obvious why people’s options should be limited in this way. If anything, this suggests that referendums are not practical ways of overseeing treaty negotiations, which could easily be another argument to be made against a second referendum. And, since we are operating in hypotheticals, would it really be beyond the wit of man to come up with a defined offer on ‘No Deal,’ explaining what it meant in practical terms?

Conolly also dismisses important concerns of opponents of a second referendum. For instance, he notes: “It is a telling that ‘No Deal’ advocates in parliament are not campaigning for a second referendum in which ‘No Deal’ is on the ballot.” This ignores the fact that any referendum with multiple “leave” options, but only one “remain” option (e.g. Deal, No Deal and Remain) would, unless structured with some kind of qualified voting system, divide the Leave vote while clustering support around a sole Remain option. This would be seen as a “rigged” vote by millions, further eroding public trust in politics.

While No Deal may arguably offer “unspecific” outcomes (although Britain would almost certainly revert to some specific World Trade Organization processes and procedures) identifying Remain as a “specific,” continuity outcome also overlooks significant changes which have occurred in the EU since our vote to Leave. Already, the EU has withdrawn the concessions offered to David Cameron in 2015 when he attempted to “renegotiate” our relationship, while its budget commissioner has suggested that Britain could lose its budget rebate should we stay in. The EU is unambiguously moving towards ever closer union in more integrated military structures, and there is even support for a common immigration policy. One only has to look at the EU’s evolution since Britain’s accession in 1972—moving from a common trade area to a supranational lawmaker, exercising influence on tax, migration and regulation—to see that Remain could also bring unknown and “unspecific” repercussions of its own.

Finally, Conolly argues that “No Deal” would compromise the Belfast Agreement which helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland by necessitating a hard border between Northern and Southern Ireland. Yet this is also a contentious proposition, disputed by numerous legal experts and the likes of David Trimble, who actually negotiated the Belfast Agreement (and won the Nobel Prize for his trouble). Not only have leaders from the Republic of Ireland, the EU and the UK pledged not to implement such a border, there is nothing in the Belfast Agreement concerned with trade and border formalities other than disarming the security border. Tellingly, the Supreme Court judges in the Miller case agreed that the Belfast Agreement would not impede the triggering of Article 50 which committed us to leaving the EU on March 29—and this was certainly not conditional on the government reaching a trade deal with the EU. Yet here, matters of ongoing debate are presented as established fact.

Argument by Analogy

Conolly uses a number of unsatisfying analogies in his argument. Firstly, he compares the decision to hold a second referendum to a group of diners going out to eat and then deciding, having seen the options available, to head home instead. This simplistic comparison neglects a number of key dynamics, such as the impact of taking “No Deal” off the table, or that the likelihood of a second referendum would lower the array of options offered to the electorate the first time around. These seem odd omissions considering the article’s earlier emphasis on “bundling” in decision-making.

In a later analogy, Conolly does upgrade the importance of this choice to the family deciding whether or not to relocate for work. Yet this also overlooks the EU’s agency in negotiations. In this scenario, it would surely be more appropriate if the bosses or one or both of the parents did not want them to move and, knowing they wouldn’t if the offers were bad enough, proceeded to write them terrible references for their next jobs!

These criticisms may seem pedantic, but ignoring the interplay between options gives an incomplete picture. It also overlooks the perverse political incentives created by announcing beforehand that there will be a second referendum, which would incentivize MPs to obfuscate and delay difficult decisions, or else to present the public with badly-designed alternatives until they get their preferred result. To appropriate Conolly’s dinner analogy, this would be akin to rewarding those members of the family who initially voted against the decision to eat out. By dragging their feet and taking forever to get ready, they could ensure that the restaurant is closed by the time they get there.

Of course, no analogy can ever perfectly capture a given situation, but the fact that Conolly’s case relies heavily on nebulous comparisons involving sealed boxes and restaurants suggests a lack of concern for practical considerations—and this is a common trend throughout the article. Although he mounts a legal defense of a second referendum, a decision with huge political and social repercussions, his article contains just one sentence on process at the very end.

This leaves many unanswered questions. Even supposing MPs could just go to the House of Commons before the end of March and “vote” (in what context, exactly?) and agree a second referendum, how would politicians get around the 2015 Referendum Act and PPERA—the Act setting out established practice for referendums? What about securing EU agreement to extend Article 50, or the danger of running into EU parliamentary elections in May? How would you determine the wording of a second referendum question?

The Case Against a Second Referendum

There are, in my view, many strong arguments against a second referendum (and I certainly can’t do them all justice here). To begin with, how could the electorate trust that the result of the second vote would be respected any more than the first? If one referendum isn’t enough to resolve the matter, why would two be enough? If Leave lost in the second one, wouldn’t they insist on the “best out of three?” There could also be chilling implications for democracy beyond our shores. Should it prove impossible for the UK to assert its legal right to leave the EU, some would argue, it would suggest that no other member country could do so either. And this is before we even consider crucial questions about the implications for social cohesion.

Brexiteers are frequently asked questions like: “Why are you so afraid of a second referendum?” “How can more democracy be undemocratic?” etc. These are easily debunked propositions. Stable democracies depend on maintaining the electorate’s trust that their decisions will be respected, so voters can resume life in between them—and, as outlined earlier, voters were explicitly told the government would implement their choice. One only has to imagine the limit case to see the flawed logic behind such arguments. A system which held referenda on a daily basis would be “more democracy”—and also “no democracy” at the same time.

One of the most compelling arguments against a second referendum is slightly more intractable. I have previously written about some of the “unseen,” ignored economic benefits of leaving the EU, per Frederic Bastiat’s famous “Broken Window Fallacy.” In a similar vein, I believe a second referendum would represent a huge democratic “missed opportunity”—not just for Britain, but for the rest of Europe too.

Many UK-based commentators view Britain’s decision to leave the EU as part of a dangerous and rising populist wave. Some deplore Leavers as “gammony” backwoodsmen—or even racists. Yet in reality, if you had to choose an EU member state to exit first, you could do rather worse than Britain. Recent polling shows UK citizens to be supportive of free trade, and look significantly more favorably on migration than residents of many other OECD countries. We have a centuries-old history of political moderation, partly due to our first-past-the-post electoral system, but also a long tradition of parliamentary democracy, and comparatively stable institutions (for now!). Though there are obvious exceptions to this rule (take UKIP’s current leadership), British Eurosceptics, unlike many of their continental counterparts, have tended towards internationalism and free trade.

For these reasons, I believe Britain has all the ingredients to leave the EU in a reasonable way, maintaining a warm relationship with our European friends after departure. We have a unique opportunity to model a liberal form of nationalism—promoting cooperation and free exchange without the need for extensive political integration.

For similar reasons, thwarting Brexit carries proportionally high “hidden” dangers. Supranational, “command and control” approaches to politics are losing favor across Europe and, given the dramatic transformation of the political landscape in recent years, it seems likely that at some point in the future, another member state will vote to leave the EU. Instead of a Britain led by moderates representing voters who look (comparatively) favorably on free movement and exchange, the next EU departure might well be led by the likes of Matteo Salvini or Marine Le Pen, championing toxic forms of nationalism. This kind of departure would be far more dysfunctional, chaotic and damaging to European unity.

Some opponents of a second referendum have raised the risks of Britain’s political system being pushed to extremes as a result. I would argue that the same could happen elsewhere in Europe too.

In short—the stakes are far higher than our current political debate would suggest.

 

Madeline Grant is a writer and political commentator based in the UK. Follow her on Twitter at @Madz_Grant

32 Comments

  1. ga gamba says

    This is a fine rebuttal to Conolly’s argument. Thanks, Ms Grant.

  2. James says

    For me it’s simple. Remain lost but remain is the political faction which has been winning politically at least since 1997 and socially sweeping al opposition aside since the Sixties.

    Brexit was the one time that the white working class, those who oppose mass immigration and don’t think its positive to become minorities in one’s own ancestral neighborhoods and don’t think globalism is the way forward, actually had a significant victory.

    This part of the electorate hasn’t had a significant political of cultural victory in decades, finally they get one and the sneering elites come up with a racist insult for them (gammon) and decide to overturn their victory.

    And by hook or by crook they will succeed in squashing Brexit.

    This will either lead to a sharp lurch to the right making Labour and the Tories unelectable for a generation and UKIP or For Britain the new political class. Or those who voted for Brexit will give up on the democratic process and instead a yellow vest type insurrection or Northern Ireland type sectarian war will ensue

    • Peter from Oz says

      The problem with your thesis is that the toff’s chief organs, the Telegraph and the Spectator have always been in the Brexit camp. The split is actually through all classes. This idea that somehow Brexit represents a cry for freedom from the working class is not the only truth, just a small part of the bigger truth: British people of all kinds want to rule themselves and not be ruled by Brussels. The irony is that under Brexit British politicians would have more power to run Britain. But they are actually bludgers who want the perks of being MPs or Ministers without having to do the real hard work of governing an independent country. They’d rather get the EU to do the heavy lifting and to provide a gravy train for them and their cronies.

    • In Australia voting is compulsory, which comes with many pros and cons,

      since you actually receive a fine for not voting, most people do.

      I have spent a lot of time in Britain, and I have read that many pro brexit voters were first time voters I think you are valid.

      If the first time you ever cared enough to vote, and your side won, and you get told that the government doesnt care????

      But then again they might just whinge.

  3. Stephanie says

    Far higher, indeed. No less than the death of democracy in Britain and the consolidation of power under the unelected EU autocracy. Thank you for the article, it is much needed.

    • @ Stephanie

      “the unelected EU autocracy”

      The EU is neither unelected or autocratic. This is outright incorrect.

    • James says

      > unelected EU autocracy

      What are you talking about? The people in power in the EU are either elected officials or appointed by elected officials.

      • Stephanie says

        @Amin and James. I’m sorry, forgive my ignorance. What proportion of Brits voted for Jean-Paul Junker?

        As for autocracy, the bulldozing of Cyprus and Greece should make it clear that the EU gets to decide what a country does, even when it is against that country’s interest and the desire of its people. If that’s not autocracy, what is? Are we going to wait until the EU army they’re planning forces Italy/Hungary/Poland into submission to use the ‘A’ word?

    • David Norman says

      I do think ‘oligarchy’ rather than ‘autocracy’ is the right term. Nevertheless, Stephanie is right to say that those exercising power in the EU are unelected.

      In 1975 Tony Benn wrote to his constituents as follows ‘membership of the Community subjects us all to laws and taxes being enacted by Authorities you do not directly elect, and cannot dismiss through the ballot box’. Later in the same letter he said ‘the Council of Ministers and Commission are neither collectively elected, nor collectively dismissed by the British people, nor even by the peoples of all the Community countries collectively.

      In my view he was entirely correct. While James is right to say that members of the Commission are appointed by elected officials the result is that in reality they are not democratically accountable to anyone. This lack of democratic accountability was, of course, entirely deliberate; the founding fathers of the Community distrusting unfettered democracy because of their view that it had resulted in populism and the rise of Hitler.

      But the tenuous relationship between EU Officialdom and real democracy always carried the risk that that the officials would become out of touch with the interests of individual member states and their peoples. There seems to be ample evidence that that is what has happened and is continuing to happen. The price of the ‘ever closer union’ that EU officials have pursued so assiduously, particularly in recent decades, is beginning to look extremely high.

      • david of Kirkland says

        You don’t vote for anybody appointed by those you did elect. Is this really hard to understand the difference between voting for a person, and voting for a person who then votes for another person?

        • Stephanie says

          @David of Kirkland, yea, the idea that if you vote for someone who votes for someone else, they are now “elected” is undemocratic. No American with any clue claims Supreme Court justices are elected. I knew Europeans were heavily propagandized, but are they really so segregated from reality? At the very least, their standards for what makes “democracy” are laughable compared to that of Americans.

        • Dazza says

          Hmm…..I see a problem with modern democratic process. Any other suggestions? Greek ‘direct democracy’ perhaps?

  4. Richard says

    @Peter from Oz. 100% correct – you can almost see the panic as our MP’s realise they will actually start being on the hook for decisions soon.

  5. addle says

    I agree with Peter from Oz. The fact that the EU provides too much incentive for politicians to neglect their duty to their citizens. become an MEP, you are unanswerable to your country of origin as you now legislate for THE UNION. if a one size fits all initiative causes economic or social harm to some member states this must be because the net benefit was of primary concern (and local authorities can be blamed for poor inplementation). an MEP belongs to no country and could never be deposed due to public dissatisfaction, so local concerns need never upset the big society apple cart.

  6. The argument that a second referendum is in some way undemocratic is simply asserted and no coherent argument for this idea is given in the article. The fact that the only way anyone has suggested that the UK could avoid leaving the EU is following a second referendum shows a deep and profound respect for democracy. That does not necessarily mean it would be a wise decision but it clearly would not be an anti-democratic one.

    In the main those in favour of Brexit, but no necessarily the author, are deeply hypocritical on this openly stating before the result of the first referendum that they would campaign for a second or third until a leave result was obtained but now claiming disingenuously that a failure to respect the first poll is undemocratic and shows contempt for voters.

    The suggestion of a secoind referendum in the current situation is not a cynical as the pro-leave camps pre-poll pronouncements. It is quite clear there has been quite a determined effort to execute the result and leave but the problem has been in the incoherence of the brexit campaign and the failure to define what leave meant. During the leave campaign there were frequent assertions that negotiations with the EU would be easy, the UK would have the whip hand and any suggestion of a no deal exit was simply scar mongering (project fear). There was both a marked absence of any details about what exit would consist of and a huge variety of suggestions of what it might consist of. We are no in a situation where the only exit likely is one which was derided during the referendum campain by those in favour of leaving as an unrealistic scare story. If this happens there will be severe consequences for our democracy with a wide spread belief that politicians have deliberatley lied to obtain a leave result and the political establishment has failed in its responsibilities to the country. The prominent leave campaigners are elite public school educated and the backlash could well revise class warfare and the marxist belief in class struggle and the exploitation of the common man. Things will become very ugly.

    • A C Harper says

      Temporarily suspend judgement on whether or not a ‘second referendum’ is democratic or not. Instead consider whether or not it is a pragmatic way forward – it would take a year of so to set up and – key point – the question(s) must be agreed in advance. And then any result must still be implemented by a Government.

      Since there seems little prospect of the second referendum resolving matters I have to ask if it is just another ploy by one set of courtiers competing for patronage and position with all the other cliques. All of which has little to do with the world outside the political bubble.

    • Stephanie says

      @AJ, from the article:

      “Brexiteers are frequently asked questions like: “Why are you so afraid of a second referendum?” “How can more democracy be undemocratic?” etc. These are easily debunked propositions. Stable democracies depend on maintaining the electorate’s trust that their decisions will be respected, so voters can resume life in between them—and, as outlined earlier, voters were explicitly told the government would implement their choice. One only has to imagine the limit case to see the flawed logic behind such arguments. A system which held referenda on a daily basis would be “more democracy”—and also “no democracy” at the same time.”

      If you don’t think telling voters that they shouldn’t trust their vote will count is a coherent argument against making people vote again and again until the elites get the result they want, I’d hazard a guess that you can’t see past your own preference to the broader implications on democracy. Perhaps it would be a useful exercise for you to imagine how you would feel as a voter if your vote weren’t respected?

      Another important thing to consider is that anyone who believes it is more important to be European than to be British can simply move to Europe, but the British have only one homeland, and they are running out of time to save it.

  7. Kieran Alexis says

    I’ve got it. We need a referendum on whether or not we should have a second referendum.

  8. EU cynic says

    You have to feel sorry for the UK, not because it voted to leave the EU but because, subsequently, it was inevitable that they would be screwed over in their dealings with the EU. It is simply not in the EU’s interests, either financially or in terms of its future development, to make it easy for the UK to leave. The EU MUST make the UK suffer as much as possible to discourage other states from leaving, and if the separation collapses, then the EU will benefit financially from the UK’s large financial net contributions. I expect a hard Brexit, and massive “civil” unrest if the UK tries to back away from the referendum result. In truth, the EU itself does not appear to have a very long term future – there are too many internal contradictions and it is essentially undemocratic. Introduction of the common currency was a BIG mistake. If the UK were to stay it would find itself involuntarily separated at some stage in any case.

    • It was always obvious that it was very much in the EUs interests to make sure whatever deal the UK negotiated was worse than being within the EU becaus eif it was not then the EU would disintegrate.

      It was also obvious that the UK had a much weaker negotiating position than the EU because the proportion of the UKs trade with the EU was so much larger than the EU’s trade with teh UK.

      It was also obvious that structurally the EU would unlikely to be an agile flexible negotiater due to it being composed from 27 countries.

      All this meant that any deal would be difficult and a far cry from the supposedly easy negotiation from a position of strength that was portrayed by the leave campaign.

  9. If you have a second referendum, with the possibility of overturning the first, why not have a third that overturns the second? And then another, and another and another. Bloody things need to go away.

  10. Stephenitisok says

    “Brexiteers are frequently asked questions like: “Why are you so afraid of a second referendum?” “How can more democracy be undemocratic?” etc”.

    One important aspect which I find conspicuously absent from any debate concerning a rerun of the referendum – let’s be honest here, those still debating are overwhelming remainers, we others have recognized the decision made by the people long ago – is, what percentage of the electorate must vote in a new referendum before a result can be accepted? I am sure those attempting to overthrow the previous result, sorry, I mean those stout defenders of democracy (see above) will agree, that acknowledging a result in which anything less than the 72% who voted in the last referendum would be a travesty of democracy. It would be nothing short of ludicrous if representation accepted a new referendum result where say, only 60-65% of eligible voters bothered to vote while ignoring the result from 2016 when 72% of voters went to the ballot box.

  11. The proponents of referenda do not give in. 2 in Quebec on ‘separation’ and 2 in British Columbia on proportional representation. In none were the consequences of a ‘yes’ vote spelled out – just ‘give us a mandate and we will tell you what we will do’. One gets really sour about people who recon that you keep on till you get the ‘right’ result, Well the UK got a vote, and its best to live with the result.

  12. EU resembles more and more to the Orwellian animal farm. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others. We saw the treatment of Italy and France… Italy with 2.4% deficit was crucified for the spendings to ease the social pain while Macron with 3,4% deficit was lauded as visionary for rasing his public spendings …. Is this kind of duplicity that will bring down this animal farm
    As for the British establishment, they love Brussels because they get to retire in their monstrous beaurocratic system with a fat salary and pension and many other privileges. A Brussels beaurocrat earns much more than a British MP

    • > “As for the British establishment, they love Brussels because they get to retire in their monstrous bureaucratic system with a fat salary and pension and many other privileges”

      YES. Tax free as well. I have not forgotten that the first public reaction from EU bureaucrats that I saw to the successful vote for Leave was: “But who will pay our pensions ?”

      That the British MP’s, Govt and bureaucracy, self-appointed virtue signalers from private enterprise, most of the corrupt media and superficial “personalities” are pushing for another vote without detailing the question is disgraceful beyond words. Why should a second vote be more legitimate than a 1st vote, or indeed a 3rd, 4th, 5th etc ? The Swiss resolved this long ago.

      Yet – when Brexit is left bleeding to death in the dust (as I believe it will, and have thought that likely since the vote, anyway), what aftermaths will really occur ? Yes, the populace will think their vote doesn’t count – but they already know that anyway. Some street demonstrations – which will slowly dissipate as people get on with life. Some MP’s will lose their seats – but the replacements will note the weary resignation of the voters and act accordingly. Brussels will laugh out loud – but they’re doing that now. Voter turnout will reduce – but so what ?

      Power will continue to be abused without accountability.

  13. david of Kirkland says

    For me, the EU is a huge mistake, hoping to create a sort of “united states” out of long-independent and often warring countries, with different languages and currencies. They should have formed a trade union so each country could remain independent, rather than allow the EU to impose laws unrelated to free trade.
    It’s on thing to cooperate, and another to hand power over to others (enslave yourself).

  14. Stephanie says

    Much of the agony around Brexit seems to stem from the inept way it was handled by the British government. Why was the PM chosen to steer the ship through these waters someone who never wanted to make the voyage in the first place? Why wasn’t someone like Nigel Farage put in charge? Seriously asking.

    Weak leadership and fear of being bold seems to be the problem here. Many EU states are unhappy with the union and would prefer a free trade zone that doesn’t threaten national sovereignty. Why hasn’t the UK poached Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Poland, ect from the EU with such a union? I’m sure Trump would sign the US onto such an agreement. He’d love to be the one to strike the death blow to the EU and forge a more nationalistic alliance of mutual economic benefit with like-minded countries. Has May even explored this possibility?

  15. Barney Doran says

    How about best two out of three? Or maybe best three out of five with rock, paper, scissors?

  16. Nicolaas Stempels says

    What I miss from all these discussions about a second referendum (I think both sides have some valid arguments) is that there is a laughing third in this Brexit controversy: Mr Putin.

  17. Andrew Roddy says

    Speaking of bias, why are choosing to pretend that a second EU referendum is even in question? The actual prospect being discussed is, in fact, a THIRD EU referendun. Of course to acknowledge the simple and undeniable truth of this would be to renderi all the arguments against it utterly fatuous because, viewed in this light, they are.

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