A Second Referendum

A new Brexit referendum would be democratically unexceptionable, whatever the Leavers say, and could well reverse the 2016 vote. This is because there’s more solid evidence now on which to base a judgment; the cheating and manipulation that dogged the first referendum can probably be prevented now that we’re aware of it; and the electoral demographics will have shifted in favour of ‘Remain’. So bring it on.

This seems to be looking rather more likely now, if only to break the deadlock created by our MPs (bless them). Jeremy Corbyn’s cunning plan, to leave it ‘on the table’ until all other alternatives are seen to have failed, is looking more sensible by the day. The later it’s left – i.e. the decision to hold a referendum – the more likely it is that even some of the ‘you lost, get over it’ mob will accept it. Let’s hope that the other alternatives – i.e. May’s deal, or the cross-party talks going on just now – do fail; or else incorporate a ‘referendum’ stipulation themselves.

If not, then there’s always Corbyn’s other alternative, which is a general election. He would prefer that, because it would open up the possibility of the radical reforming programme that the country so desperately needs just now. As he has always maintained, and as he repeated in a speech recently, the real divide today isn’t between people who voted leave or remain, but between the powerful rich and the powerless poor. From his point of view, Europe is a distraction from this. If there were  a general election, Labour would probably win, whatever mud the Conservatives might sling at Corbyn. Surely people have seen through all that by now? This of course is why the Conservatives are so a-feared of the prospect.

Its advantage for those of us for whom Europe is a higher priority than it is for Corbyn, and who might prefer a referendum, is that a new Labour government would probably – would have to, surely – hold a second referendum of its own. So we will get what we wanted either way. For the first time in this whole ridiculous tunnel of ignorance, deception and madness I espy just the slightest flicker of light.

Then of course we’d still have the ‘mob’ to deal with, led by a khaki-clad Farage with his rifle (https://alternativebristol.com/are-we-going-to-see-a-brexit-insurgency/), who for weeks have been trying to intimidate Remainers with threats of civil war if their ill-gotten prize is snatched from their hands. But we can handle that when it comes. And also the ominous rise of proto-fascist opinion and action that this whole affair has stimulated. A new Labour government with radical economic and social policies might well be the best antidote to that.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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