The 2nd Referendum: Betrayal or Justice?

What can be done about Brexit? With the deadline fast approaching later this month, the options are running out, and no one seems to have the solution to solve the problem of Brexit. There have been endless debates between MPs, between family members, between just about anyone, about what will result from Brexit and how we should go about preparing for what’s to come. Now, in the same month as the 29nd March leaving date set out by Article 50, the Labour party seems to be moving towards endorsing a second referendum as the party’s position on Brexit. Two years on from the referendum vote, there is no established, approved deal – just Theresa May’s proposal which has already been convincingly rejected by Parliament.

It increasingly looks like it’ll be the PM’s deal or No Deal, as EU leaders have stated they are not willing to renegotiate the terms of Brexit. But May can’t even rely on the support of her own party to push her deal through Parliament; there is no majority government, and Tory dominance could only be bought with £1billion to the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. 

The solution, according to some, is a second referendum. A vote by the general public could be used to decide in which direction Brexit Britain should steer, or whether we should turn around and abandon the whole project altogether. 

There is an argument from many Hard Brexiteers that a second vote is an unnecessary underhand tactic by “Remoaner” elites to protect their selfish interests and undermine the referendum result. This sentiment was already shown in the Daily Mail headline that branded three judges “Enemies of the People” for concluding that Article 50 could only be triggered with Parliamentary authority after an MP’s vote. It is bizarre that those so desperate to bring back sovereignty and control from Brussels to Westminster were so outraged by elected members of Parliament being allowed to exercise their sovereignty on behalf of the people that voted for them.

The same advocates of No Deal believe that the political elite they call corrupt and protest against would be well placed leading the UK out of the risk associated with Brexit; that’s if they can somehow reason that WTO tariffs wouldn’t destroy our trade prospects, or that the economic loss of Brexit would be worth the perceived regain of control. If anyone has considered our current political establishment, it is hard to believe that the reasonable conclusion to come to is to isolate ourselves from our closest international allies, then to rely on squabbling, inept politicians to guide us out of the challenges such a decision would inevitably bring.

For the Conservatives who have backed Theresa May, a second referendum is a huge threat, to them as individuals as well as a party. After observing the shambles of the government’s Brexit negotiations, it is likely that a second vote would return a result in favour of Remain, making the two years of spending and endless work a total waste. Before the potentially damaging result is considered, it is certain that another referendum would mean more interrogation from critics of Brexit that would have to be answered rather than evaded. With the Electoral Commission fining pro-Brexit campaign groups Vote Leave and Leave.EU for overspending, as well as whistleblowers Shahmir Sanni and Christopher Wylie providing ammunition alleging criminal activity on the part of Leave campaigners, another round of public scrutiny is not appealing in the least. Brexiteers risk losing everything if a second vote, regardless of the result, while Remainers have everything to gain.

Criticism must also be levelled at Labour. As they have seemed to struggle with holding their own party together under accusations of anti-Semitism, the Labour leadership under Corbyn has hardly held the government to account over the two years of Brexit disasters, only now listening to their core party membership and beginning to hint at supporting a people’s vote. Corbyn has been rightly critical of Theresa May’s deal, but has not offered any alternative; it is easy to ridicule the government when in opposition, but offering no alternative shows the lack of substance behind Labour’s condemnation of the Conservatives.

A second Brexit referendum would not be a betrayal of the electorate. If the majority have faith in the path that our government has set out for us, then Brexiteers have nothing to fear, and should relish the opportunity to again strike back against the “Remoaner” establishment. The reluctance to allow a second vote, however, betrays their true feelings; they know that Brexit has been handled terribly, has wasted vast sums of money, and threatens to worsen the situation of the country, but they are more desperate to save face than to be publicly confronted with their broken promises and utter incompetency. 

To claim that a people’s vote would be a betrayal of the people is ludicrous. There’s no doubt another referendum would damage the country even further, but the confusing task of finding out what Brexit means to the people, and whether those who voted for Brexit are satisfied by the government’s deal, will not be solved any other way. Time is running out.

Image Credits: [The Independent, Sky News]