What has Mathew Elliott to fear from a second referendum? The decision to reverse Brexit now appears to be the wish of the majority. He presents no arguments and offers no alternatives that will mitigate the withdrawal of trade with our largest trading partner, with the resultant loss of status, financial strength and political influence in this increasingly dangerous world.
Every five years or less, the Great British Electorate (GBE) – or at least a reasonable proportion of it – votes for a new Parliament. At that time it is, presumably, reasonable for people to change their minds from the last time and change their vote. That is why there is more than one party in the country and why our government changes from time to time. The moral is: cock it up and you are out. Why should a referendum be any different?
Why should the GBE be bound by a decision taken at one point in time, which, after the passage of time, may seem to be questionably binding? Setting aside arguments on the veracity of pro-Brexit arguments as well as Remain arguments, when the final agreement between the UK and the 27 EU countries has been reached, the situation could be wildly different from that fondly imagined by either camp when they cast their votes in the referendum. Are they to be denied their democratic right to decide if this is what they want?
My personal faith in the ability of the GBE to make a reasoned and intelligent decision based upon facts and assessment has been seriously shaken by the results of referendum number one, but that does not mean that second referendum will have no value.
Referendums are a picture of a moment in time, times change, opinions change facts and even reality change – should democracy not reflect that? Should democracy not be permitted its opportunity to give the people a voice?
The best route to resolve the current situation is to suspend Brexit and negotiate terms for the UK’s continued membership of the EU. New measures to restrict mobility of labour and to constrain the ECJ would provide the basis for a genuine choice and a rational excuse for second referendum.
We should not lose sight of the fact that only 37 per cent of the electorate voted to leave – it is hardly surprising that the nation remains so divided. However, if new terms can be negotiated then Parliament may decide to abandon Brexit and that a second referendum is not required, and they can then get on with running the country.
There is no obvious way out of the chaos caused by the EU referendum. However, one thing is painfully clear: another vote in the form of second simplistic referendum will add nothing to the debate, and would almost certainly further fuel the discontent which is tearing our society apart.
There is no reason to believe that those with entrenched views on EU membership will be influenced by any amount of rational debate, and there is every chance that campaigning up to the vote would be even more unpleasant and dishonest than the first time round.
The priority now is to rebuild British society to be fit to face the challenges of the modern world. Tolerance and understanding have always been important; now they are vital. Divisive votes will not achieve this.
If 80 per cent of US citizens believe in net neutrality, then surely there’s a clear opportunity for the Democrats to declare an intention to reverse this iniquitous decision as soon as the electorate gives them power to do so.
The true meaning of Christmas
I am wondering if at this moment, Patrick Cosgrove is, like me, busily writing a letter to The Independent querying whether or not we are supposed to take the article “Festive Flair” in the Sunday edition seriously. His letters so often reflect what I am thinking.
The true meaning of Christmas really has been lost if it has become reduced to creating a table decorated with gold cutlery, matt-gold salad servers, copper place mats and other such ludicrously expensive items, so that one’s guests are unable to resist Instagramming it “before the food is out of the oven”.