Should There Be a Second EU Referendum?

We will take a break from The Great Deception this week to try to answer the question that many people seem to be asking.  Should there be another EU referendum?

Can someone answer why we can’t have a second vote? Now we are clearer surely those that want to leave will still vote leave. Those who want to stay will vote stay and other folk can weigh up the evidence and decide which way to go. This whole we voted and dry your eyes if you lost attitude is so negative and no one is looking for a keep voting till you get the answer you want crap. We now truly know what we are voting for. It is not an abstract.

Let me list the reasons why some people think there should be another referendum:

  1. We voted in ignorance, but now we know so much more and should therefore vote on the basis of having more knowledge. If you buy a car then discover it is not what you thought you were buying, then surely you have the right to change your mind.
  2. Parliament is stuck.  They can’t decide what to do.  So they need The People to make a decision for them.
  3. It is the democratic thing to do.  Have a vote.
  4. A second referendum will be decisive.
  5. Opinion polls show that people have changed their minds.

And here are the reasons why a second referendum is likely to cause a great deal of harm.

  1.  We don’t actually know much more than we did then.   We do not now ‘truly know’ what we are voting for. Then we had the same Project Fear as we are having right now.  When we vote again people will not suddenly have become experts in EU politics, law and economics.  Instead they will end up basing their vote on who can instil the most fear.  One of the things that has struck me in this whole debate is how little some of most fanatical Remainers actually know about the EU – and that includes some politicians.   I am still astounded for example at the SNP MP who told me that it didn’t matter if the EU was democratic or not, because it was only a trading bloc! We were assured during the Referendum that there would never be an EU army – but now we are told by Merkel and Macron that there will.   Do people who voted Remain actually know what they were voting for, any more than those who voted Leave?

2. Parliament don’t trust the People.  Parliament don’t want the People to make the decision.  What Parliament would be saying if they asked the People again is – “Sorry folks, we made a big mistake.  We should never have asked you to make this decision.  But now because we are a bit scared of ignoring you, we are asking if you wouldn’t mind changing your minds and give us back the power to hand it all over to the EU?   And please don’t worry your pretty little heads, we will never make the mistake of asking you anything meaningful again.”

3. A second referendum will not be decisive.  It is probable that Remain would win – just.   Project Fear usually works.  But it is also possible that the result might end up the same.  Despite all the propaganda there is little evidence of opinion having shifted significantly.  Yes there are those of the 17.5 million who now regret their  vote – in a number that size there are bound to be.  But there are also those of the 16 million who have changed – and there will be those fair-minded people who think that the original vote should be implemented.   If we end up with the same result then how are we any further forward?  And of course the Remainers will demand yet another vote – because we were ignorant (we must have been – otherwise how could we not have voted their way?).

4. There is no evidence ‘the People’ have changed their mind. Despite the millions spent on opinion polls and the increasing Project Fear hysteria there is little evidence of any significant change.  Prof John Curtice says that although people are pessimistic about getting a good deal, opinion about leaving the EU has not really changed.  Read his findings here    

I am shocked at how many people actually think opinion polls are the same as votes.  If that were the case, why would we need to vote at all?  Just save the expense and the time and govern by opinion polls!  Or better still surveys which only confirm the bias of those who commission them.  ““A survey by an independent Brussels based think tank reveals that independent Brussels based think tanks believe that Brexit will be a disaster for Britain”

 

5. What would the question be?  Mrs May would want it to be ‘my deal or no deal’.  But as the whole purpose of a second referendum is to prevent Brexit,  so the Remain majority in Parliament would want a Remain option.  But if you had Remain v’s Mrs May (which is in reality BINO – Brexit In Name Only) then people like me who voted Leave won’t vote because we have nothing to vote for.   A referendum with three/four/five options?  The SNP/LibDems/Tory/Labour Remainers might as well put this as the question:  “Would you like to stay in the ever so nice, prosperous, peace making EU? or would you prefer to die in the bleak post-nuclear island that Brexit Britain will become?!

6.Even the threat of a second referendum is making the EU offer even harder terms.  Their aim is to keep us in.  The best way for that to happen is to offer us such a rotten deal that they think we will all cave in like Mrs May.  They may well be right – after all it has happened before. I  read this fascinating article from the BBC on the EU and second referendums.   

Screenshot 2018-12-20 at 17.29.21

7. It’s not the democratic thing to do.   We had a Peoples Vote.   We were promised that the result of that vote would be implemented.  We were also told that it would be a once for all decision.   A second referendum is designed to subvert democracy, not enhance it.

8. It’s not a Peoples Vote. Not unless you really want to argue that Tony Blair, Alaister Campbell, George Osbourne,  John Major, Richard Branson and Lord Heseltine are ‘The People’!  The Peoples Vote is just a hashtag, no more realistic than the hundreds of thousands of ‘bot’ letters being sent to MP’s on behalf of ‘the People’.    This whole campaign was started by Remainers who were funded by a very wealthy man and whose sole purpose was to prevent Brexit.  The notion of people being given another say was just a pretence.   The people behind this have the attitude of Richard Dawkins who declared that the People should never have been given a say in the first place because we were too ignorant.  Do you honestly think that he has had a Damascene conversion and now considers that ‘the People’ have suddenly developed the intelligence and ability to understand the complexities of leaving the EU?  Or does he think that the People are so stupid that they can be frightened into handing back the power mistakenly given to them?

9. A second referendum would be even more divisive than the first.  The fanatical Remainers would pull out all the stops – with their EU flags, Guardian columns and every more hysterical warnings, mockery and threats.   The fanatical Brit Nats on the other side would likewise stoke up the tension.  If you want to fuel the Far Right, cancel Brexit. The Progressive liberals, for whom the EU is Nirvana, are the greatest allies of the Far Right.  Both are enemies of democracy.

10. A different result would greatly damage if not end democracy in the UK.  Parliament having handed the people a vote, would have taken it back and cajoled, frightened and compelled us into giving them the result they really wanted.  Once they took the power back they would ensure we never have a meaningful vote again – and they would hand over even more power to the EU – which would ensure that we would be even more ensnared in the Hotel California that is the EU.  Ironically Parliament would be taking back sovereignty in order to hand that sovereignty back to the EU.

Take for example the fishing quotas decided this week.  The EU Commission decided to give the Faroese fleet 1/3 of the mackerel catch in ‘EU waters’ – which in reality means Scottish waters.  And there is not a thing that either the Scottish or UK governments can do about this.  The SNP can whisper as much as they want about how they want the best for Scotland’s fishermen, but their policy means that the sovereignty over these waters is handed to the EU Commission!

To me this is the negation of democracy.  In fact I would see little point in voting in another UK election.  What would be the point?  We would just have become another EU region, a playground for the rich where our politicians could play their games and pretend that what they actually did was important.   If the politicians can ignore the biggest democratic vote ever in UK history, then they have no need to take heed of any other votes that we have.   Our national elections would just be deciding what pen pushers we want to implement the rules made by others. Rules in which we fundamentally have no say.

Finally if there is to be a second referendum it should only be appointed by a parliament which has been elected for that purpose.  In other words let their be another general election and let those who want a second referendum stand on that ticket.  Only then will parliament have any moral right to call for another referendum.   But I’m beginning to suspect that morality has little role to play in this whole mess!

Will Brexit Happen? The Truth about the EU…

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10 thoughts on “Should There Be a Second EU Referendum?

  1. The difficulty with this whole mess is how it was implemented in the first place. It was absurd that a government against changing the status quo of EU membership brought forward a referendum on changing the status quo. What should have happened was as you say at the end, a political party fighting for British sovereignty outside the EU should have proposed the referendum, put forward a plan and negotiated a settlement. The problem we’re stuck with now is as if a Labour government in Scotland suddenly held a referendum for Scottish independence and didn’t put a single plan forward but left it to various unofficial factions of SNP, Greens and others. In the 2016 referendum, there was no official plan, no white paper, etc, just a number of different factions without power promising various “Nirvanas” outside the EU.

    Now I am a reluctant Remainer, I would have voted for a left wing Brexit but as I see it, I see no difference between transferring power from EU elites in Brussels to Conservative elites in London. The elites in power calling for a hard Brexit are not going to be the ones that suffer its economic consequences. Going into the 2016 referendum it was also obvious to anyone that has studied recent history that the EU was not going to play nice and the position that we are in; choosing between remain, a vassal-state deal or no deal, was always going to be the end position despite all the Leave rhetoric of British greatness.

    I think there should be another referendum. I’m not someone who buys into the idea that No Deal will be the end of the world and I’m sure in the longterm it will be fine, but there will be short-term hardship, and I think it needs to be in the hands of the people, rather than the Tory Brexiteer elites, as to whether they want to go through that. Unfortunately I think either way, it will be the poor who suffer.

  2. I don’t want a second referendum for many of the same reasons that you have written here (plus some others).

    However, is there another workable solution? There is no majority in the commons for the government’s deal. “No deal” is even less popular than the governments deal.

    That parliament are divided on how to proceed is because we elected a hung parliament who don’t agree on Brexit because we don’t agree on Brexit.

    I live in a constituency with majority remain voters. Our MP made it clear at the last election that he would fight to remain. He was elected with 62% of the vote. Should we decry him as anti democratic because he is representing his constituents interests?

    The cabinet is in chaos with seemingly several different plans – avoid consulting either parliament or voters (May), relabel the deal as “no deal” and hope the ERG don’t notice (Leadsom), second referendum (Rudd). I think it is disgraceful for them to just abandon things for two weeks, especially over Christmas and especially because so many people’s lives will be deeply effected by whatever they decide.

    Do you have a solution?

    1. If your MP voted to permit the referendum then he has to abide by the results of that referendum or he is being anti-democratic.

      My solution would have been to have prepared for a real Brexit from the beginning – not May’s fudge. The EU would then have known we were serious….however we are where we are – so I would prepare for Brexit, go to the EU and tell them to drop the backstop proposal – if they don’t agree we just leave….it won’t be pretty but it won’t be the apocalyptic disaster everyone predicts…

      1. My MP is representing his constituents. A majority of us wish to remain and a majority of us voted for him, not Theresa May.

        Sorry, but I wasn’t clear. My question was not intended to be “what type of Brexit do you want to see?” My question is a practical one – what your solution would be to parliamentary deadlock and a divided electorate. Theres no majority for remain, Mays deal or no deal in parliament. 52% of the electorate want Brexit and 48% do not. Of the 52% different substantial proportions don’t support either Mays deal or no deal.

      2. Does your MP represent his constituents on capital punishment? abortion? Did your MP vote for a referendum to be held? A referendum which he promised would be respected? Did he not mean it? Did he not campaign on a manifesto which said that Brexit would be delivered and we would be out of the SM and CU? There is no solution to a situation where politicians refuse to deliver their promise – other than another general election..

      3. I am in favour of a general election as well.

        It is supposed to happen when the government has failed to implement a budget or major piece of policy. It is sadly ironic that in trying to deliver a project that has been publicised as bringing sovereignty back to parliament, May is ignoring parliament and has even been held in contempt of parliament.

        I think the majority of MPs are trying to get Brexit it’s just that there is no majority for the deal that May has achieved.

        I’m pretty sure (I would need to check to be sure) that my MP voted against a referendum. He stood for election on a platform of opposing Brexit. He made it very clear. He did not make any election promises about capital punishment or abortion, but I suspect he also agrees with the majority of his constituents with those as well.

        52% is not 100% and MPs are chosen at the constituency level. You cannot expect ever MP or every citizen to support Brexit.

        If we accept that a majority or the people are in favour of Brexit then, quite obviously, a majority are not in favour of Mays deal and a majority are not in favour of no deal.

  3. David

    Thank you for this. I personally remain unconvinced about a second the referendum and the term People’s Vote makes me want to retch, being redolent of Blair’s “People’s Princess” spin.

    On the 5 points in favour you list, 1 is partially correct, 2 is definitely true, 3 is arguable, but not a big factor either way, 4 is clearly wrong, and 5 is true only in part.

    Of your points against: 1 – we clearly do know a lot more than in 2016, but people are so invested in their decision there that there is an unwillingness to accept data that doesn’t support the case. The Remain side have not come to terms with the failure of the recession and mass unemployment to materialise etc. Remainders also have to be honest about the internal threats to the EU from the new coalition in Italy, which is trying to cosy up to Putin, and the autocrats in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland. The elections to the European Parliament next year are likely to heighten divisions and make finding any sort of majority there extremely difficult, reducing the EU’s ability to act significantly. Equally too many on the Leave side still peddle the David Davis myth that this would be the easiest trade deal in history because of German car manufacturers. Since the EU has suspended the enlargement process with Turkey, the Leave campaign about 76m Turks waiting to come in immediately cannot be repeated. These are just some of the things that we have learnt since 2016. We also know about the Customs Union in a way none of us ever wanted to. I don’t think the debate has enriched us particularly, in spite of the mass of new information.

    2 – that is true, and the feeling is more than reciprocated. In England, there is a huge chunk of people who are politically homeless, unable to support the nativist ERG-tinged Conservatives, or the anti-Semitic, shy Eurosceptic Corbyn project that has captured Labour. The two main parties, although polls show they would get 80% of the votes, speak for probably less than half that, with people lending them their vote to keep the other lot out.

    3 – almost certainly correct, which was why Cameron’s decision not to go for a 60% threshold was one of the more egregious of his many follies. Even Farage said a 52-48% result would be unfinished business. It is hard to see either side getting 60% on a re-run.

    4 – I don’t think this is completely true. There has been a persistent shift to Remain which is showing up in the polling aggregates, but it is not sufficiently large to constitute new circumstances. We can all find anecdotes, like Sir John Timpson on Breakfast News yesterday, saying he would have voted differently if he knew then what he knew now, but anecdotes and opinion polls are not real votes. So although there is a small change, your generally point is I think correct.

    5 – absolutely, although May’s deal is not BRINO but a real exit, putting an end to the current careers and lives of more than 1m UK citizens in the UK, because May’s approach is so misanthropic and shall-minded when it comes to individuals and individuals’ rights

    6 – is nonsense. The EU has waited for 2 years to know what deal the UK wanted, and then has accommodated May’s Red Lines. The shape of the Withdrawal Agreement have been determined entirely by May’s obsession with ending ECJ jurisdiction and taking the 2016 vote as a vote on immigration. Other deals were available, eg EEA, but the UK ruled it out.

    9 is absolutely right, for reasons you hint at in 7 or 8, although I think you are too quick to dismiss the People’s Vote crowd as solely an elite exercise. Less than three months ago, over 600,000 marched through London and people like Femi of OFOC are examples of a grassroots sentiment. The threat of civil unrest from the Tommy Robinson brigade should be taken with a pinch of salt, although since Jo Cox was murdered by someone from that eco-system, this is not wholly empty words.

    10 – I think you are right here. However, I think the behaviour of the two main parties in Westminster has been so appalling over the last two years that it is hard to argue that democracy in the UK is not in need of intensive care anyway. A second referendum is a 55-45 Remain vote is not going to solve that. Hoping for a refendum to bring closure is as delusion as Cameron’s hope that a refendum would stop the Tories banging on about Europe.

    So in sum, I am with you in opposing a second referendum, especially if you call it a People’s Vote

  4. I’ve never been convinced a second vote would be any more accepted than the first – not least because it was Leavers like Nigel Farage who were insisting they would not accept a narrow loss the first time, and indeed that *they* would demand a second vote (and presumably more, until they got what they want? Two can play that game… )
    And what else IS a referendum but an “opinion poll”? Merely one with rather more serious consequences than voting for the loser on X-factor. It was always a rubbish idea, from a Government already down in history for a series of rubbish ideas, in the desperate search to entrench “the natural party of Government” permanently in Westminster, untrammeled by the inconvenience of rivals.
    “If you want to fuel the Far Right, cancel Brexit. ” is probably the worst reason that ever was for making a political decision. That terrorism *does* work is something anyone who has read the news for a few decades will know – but if we give way now to such threats, we might as well abandon the rule of law altogether.
    God only knows the course ahead: there is no option for stopping to check or recalibrate the course; no plan for what will happen if we steam ahead; and a crew still more bent on sabreing each other and the captain than making sure the lifeboats are intact or caring for the passengers. And the other ships in Europe have long since readied themselves to sail on without us, having more urgent threats of their own to deal with.
    May the Light that shines in darkness lead us through the dark times ahead.

    1. There is an enormous difference between a referendum and an opinion poll – the latter is a small sample weighted according to the bias of the commissioners….the former is an actual vote of real people with a specific binary question.

      Actually fueling facism and the far right is a good reason to think about what we are doing…..

      But I do like your shipping analogy….The EU is the Titanic sailing on to disaster. We need to get on the lifeboat!

      1. Both test public “opinion”: they merely differ in the size of the sample, the degree of adjustment applied, and the seriousness of the consequences. It’s not so long since we had another referendum to decide whether “a simple majority of those who bothered to use their vote” was an adequate means of determining who should serve as MPs – we decided against all the various means of adjustment (e.g. transferable or proportional vote) and chose – ironically by the same means we were choosing, which rather begs the question from the start! – to keep things as they are. It’s certainly more fun, just as “sudden-death” games are more fun than Test matches, but the various forms of vote are not completely different things and all are seeking, more or less accurately, to know what people think.
        *I* didn’t mention “the Titanic” – you chose to make that identification, and to assume I meant the EU. Whatever the state of that rickety vessel, it is the boat *we ourselves* have launched that has blithely sailed without enough (or even any!) lifeboats in the proud belief it is unsinkable, and that smiling natives await on the other side to welcome us in. You may choose to believe that the sail on the horizon is a friendly rescuer: I think it’s more likely to be even worse pirates than the ones we think we are “escaping”.
        And until we stop making this country into a worked example of Amos 5, we too should expect to find ourselves “fleeing from a lion, only to meet a bear”.
        Even those I know who are Leavers are not expecting overnight success any more – nor do Remainers necessarily expect *instant* catastrophe, although some things have “been left undone that ought to have been done” before the off and that is our fault, and no-one else’s – as the otherwise comic drone episode has depressingly displayed.
        I wish you all the very best for a blessed Christmas, and a good New Year in your new job and location.

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