Opinion polls tell us that the voting public have now moved very marginally in favour of remaining in the EU, and, according to this recent report in the Guardian, significant sections of the Labour party are now calling on their leaders to support a second referendum. I find this encouraging but also worrying.
Encouraging becasue, as the article makes clear, for trade union members (and working people in general?) "Brexit was a bad idea in 2016 and things have only got worse. The final agreement must go back to the people." This from former union leader Billy Hayes.
A current leader, Manuuel Cortes, spells out: "Tory Brexit is an idealogical project that will attack the rights of workers, deregulate the economy and blame immigrants for the failure of the elite. . . there is nothing in this for working people. That's why the trade union movement is increasingly moving towards supporting a popular vote on the deal."
It is just possible that such blunt speaking from this source, coupled with the increasingly shambolic failures of the government in the negotiations, might just convince those "left behind" who chose voting Leave as a protest against a complacent ruling elite who have neglected their needs for far too long, might just be persuaded to change their minds.
But:there is no guarantee, or even likelihood, that a second referendum would be any more fairly fought than the first. Even if the rules are tightened:
- Leave lied in the first and will lie again in the second, largely though unrealistic claims unsupported by evidence.
- By overspending Leave broke the law in the first and will probably do so again. Petty fines are no deterrent.
- Their message will be simple - "We have already decided - how dare 'they' try to overturn democracy?
- The pro-leave press, largely owned by foreign-resident tax evaders, will howl "Foul.."
- From staffing our "Leeds for Europe" street stall a couple of Saturdays ago I get the distinct impression that the the public is now indifferent and that the "Just get on with it" view will either vote to leave even if they were originally remainers, or, more likely simply not bother to vote.
- All the worthy arguments by the trade unionists, quoted above, were made in the first referendum, and were ineffective.
- How will the question (s) put on a second referendum be agreed? Will it be "Accept the deal or crash out?" " Accept the deal or remain in?" "Accept the deal or re-negotiate?" Or will there be more than two options - "Accept the deal, crash out or stay in?" And if more than two options, will second preferences be permitted in the voting system?. For a more detailed analysis of the possibilities see.here.
Frankly, it is evident that a second referendum poses more problems than it solves. It is not the best "way out."
We should remain true to our constitution, hammered out over the years. It is not perfect, but it's the best we have at the moment.
We are a representative parliamentary democracy.
The easy promises of the leave campaign are now exposed as unsubstantiated hot air, all informed opinion points to the fact that the deal with the EU we already have is far better than anything else that could be agreed with us outside the EU, and the vast majority of MPs recognise this.
They should do their duty, grasp the nettle and put a stop to the whole nonsense. If parliament were in session this could be done tomorrow, without wasting further time. It can be done in the autumn once parliament resumes. If some MPs with strong Leave voting constituencies lose their seats surely that is a small price to pay for saving the nation.from folly?