A lot of Brits are now turning against Brexit, in the light of recent revelations about the ‘dirty tricks’ employed by the Leave camp during the Referendum, the inclarity of the choice that was being offered to us by the Brexiteers then, and the bleaker future now being authoritatively predicted for us for when the separation is finally achieved. It would seem reasonable, therefore, to grant us a ‘rethink’ – a new vote on the actual terms of the eventual Brexit treaty – before the die is finally cast.
The main obstacle to this seems to be the argument of finality that the Brexit side is currently plugging: that we’ve made our decision, which expressed the ‘will of the people’, finally, it is implied; and which to seek to overturn – however much the ‘will of the people’ may have changed in the meantime – would be an ‘undemocratic’ endeavour. That’s the line that Ukippers and the rabid Right-wing press are pushing right now, in order to prevent a second vote; and would doubtless continue to argue if a second vote went against them. The political passions that have been aroused, or more likely brought to the surface (see https://bernardjporter.com/2016/06/16/is-it-really-about-the-eu/), by this gruesome contest augur an uncomfortable future for the country, whatever the eventual outcome; even amounting, in some estimations, to virtual – though hopefully relatively bloodless – civil war.
That’s the reason why so many ‘Remainers’ are reluctant to argue for a re-run: fear of the attacks that would be launched on them by the press barons and others on the Right – ‘treason’ would be the least of the former’s charges – stifling rational debate and appealing to the very real and in many ways justified resentment of the poor and neglected – the ever-feared ‘great unwashed’ – against ‘the Establishment’.
One solution to this problem might be if one or more of the pro-Brexit Establishment reneged. This is why I was struck and mildly encouraged by this recent report in a London paper: https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/boris-johnson-deeply-regrets-going-down-brexit-route-close-sources%EF%BB%BF-reveal/07/09/. It looks very much like tittle-tattle, and so not to be trusted; but if Boris is having a re-think, and trying to extricate himself from the Brexit morass, wouldn’t it be good if he came out publicly as having changed his mind on the whole issue? His career hasn’t been much damaged by volte-faces in the past. It might even serve his prime ministerial ambitions, to be seen as a wise leader. (His hero Churchill was inconsistent, too.) It could be presented to him as the patriotic thing to do. And it would surely be more likely to bring over a lot of present Leavers to the Remain side, bearing in mind the influence he seems to have had on them during the (first) referendum, than anything the Establishment Remainers could do. That might be Remain’s only hope.