- (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
- Several polls have shown that a majority of British people now want a second EU referendum.
- A majority of people now believe that voting to leave was “wrong.”
- The country now has a more concrete idea of what Brexit actually means – economically, politically and in terms of the future of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Britain deserves a second referendum before March 2019.
LONDON – In the last couple of months, a great divide has opened up between the government and its people. A slim majority of Brits now support staying in the EU and holding a second referendum, according to two recent opinion polls. But even as Britain increasingly favours an historic U-turn that might allow us to rejoin Europe, Theresa May’s government has pressed harder toward Brexit.
The government was forced by petition to stage a debate on December 11 on whether there should be a referendum on the EU exit deal. It is worth quoting in the government’s official position in detail, because it shows how fundamentalist the government’s stance has become. It says:
“There must be no attempts to remain inside the European Union, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door, and no second referendum.”
What’s interesting about that statement is its absolutism: There was a vote in June 2016, May’s government says, and that was the end of democracy on the matter. At no point – for any reason, even after two years of further research and debate, even if such a vote were requested – should Britain be allowed to think again on this massive change to the basis of our constitution and our economy.
While the government has become more religiously orthodox on Brexit, the people have given the issue more thought. A majority – in four straight polls – now think Britain was “wrong” to vote to leave, according to YouGov’s poll:
- Pantheon Macroeconomics
Here is the Survation tracking poll on whether there should be a referendum vote on the exit deal. There is a 50% – 34% split in favour of a new vote:
- Jack Taylor / Stringer
A new Brexit referendum would be justified. Eighteen months after the first vote, we have a more concrete idea of what leaving the EU actually involves: Reduced economic growth, a weaker pound, higher inflation, and reduced trade links to our biggest import-export partners.
We now know that Brexit potentially threatens the fragile peace that Britain spent years creating in Northern Ireland. Brexit might trigger a new Scottish independence referendum. These are not trivial issues – they are core constitutional matters describing what “Great Britain” actually is, and Brexit could alter the map if we ignore them.
And then there are the lies.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) June 24, 2016
Brexit will not free up £350 million per week that we can now spend on the NHS, as promised by the Leave campaign. And when former UKIP leader Nigel Farage promised that we could stay in the EEA the day after Brexit, and continue trading with Europe from there, that turned out not to be true as well. All that comes before we get to the bottom of pro-Brexit Russian interference.
So the British have very good reason to rethink this Brexit thing, and a majority of people want it to happen.
They should get their way.