Imagine if there was a march demanding a re-run of a General Election. It would be inconceivable and absurd – yet those marching through the streets of London yesterday had the sole intention of overturning the largest democratic exercise in British political history.
The People’s Vote campaign is a piece of spin as essentially it is a call for a second referendum in all but name. The question is unknown. I can’t see three options on the ballot paper as Remain, Leave with the potential deal and Leave with no deal would split the Leave vote. Any true ‘People’s Vote’ with the intent of ratifying the negotiated settlement would be accepting the deal or Leaving with no deal.
As it stands, the UK’s political landscape is toxic and it is ludicrous to suggest and attempt to justify that a second referendum would miraculously heal this scarring division in the country. It will take policy in the communities rather than a plebiscite to solve this.
Re-running the 2016 vote would produce a greater disconnect between the politicians in Westminster and the people. Representatives in Parliament and the Prime Minister are trying to act in the national interest, as seen with the PM trying to fudge some sort of compromise with the EU, potentially now with the dilemma of a customs union or a no-deal Brexit. This was despite the Prime Minister ruling out customs union membership in her Lancaster House and Mansion House speeches as the fifth-largest economy would not be able to act globally by signing new trade deals with the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and so on.
It feels as if I’m being patronised by a privileged elite when the likes of Andrew Adonis, Alastair Campbell, Nick Clegg and Tim Farron suggest the motives behind voting for Brexit were misinformed. But, they weren’t! Former Prime Minister David Cameron and the then Chancellor, George Osborne, constantly said that Britain would be quitting the Single Market if the people voted to Leave. Not to mention the fact that leading Leave campaigners, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, reiterated this. Any calamitous fudge deal will not be acceptable to the 17.4 million who expected to take back control of their borders, laws, trade policy and money.
The EU has essentially made the bed for those campaigning for a People’s Vote. The EU is particularly sceptical of public opinion in its member states. In July 2015, the Greek population voted to reject draconian measures imposed by the European Commission (and Angela Merkel) in a highly dictatorial fashion. Yet pressure from the Commission forced Prime Minister Tsipras to accept the bailout package. In 2009, the people in Ireland were made to vote again after rejecting the Lisbon Treaty in the first referendum and in 2005, the French and Dutch rejected the Constitutional Treaty. The Constitutional Treaty was essentially rebranded as the Lisbon Treaty and implemented through the backdoor.
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If the turnout for our 2016 referendum had been a measly 30 per cent, then the other side would have an argument as a low turnout questions legitimacy. But the turnout was 72.2 per cent – the highest turnout in a UK-wide electoral event since the 1992 election!
Speaking of 1992, John Major has been pretty vocal about Brexit and the Leave campaign in recent days: the same individual who weaselled out of a referendum to ratify the Maastricht Treaty. Major never called a referendum out of self-interest because he knew the British electorate would reject the Maastricht Treaty and his political career would have been over.
Then of course came Tony Blair (and his sidekick Alastair “People’s Vote” Campbell) who relied on Tory votes when it came to a parliamentary vote on going to war in Iraq. Blair, in particular, was driven by his special relationship with George W. Bush as somewhere between 750,000 and 2 million people marched in opposition to that decision to go to war. If there had been a referendum on the war in Iraq, then it is perfectly reasonable to assert that the UK electorate would have voted against the invasion. Referendums are only popular when they suit one’s political advantage.
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