The EU referendum – Part 2?

The case for a second referendum

By Alice Lassman

“I agree with Nigel” – no, it’s not the latest viral hashtag, but our very own Nick Clegg voicing his support with Farage in his call for a second referendum. Although Nick and Nigel are unlikely to become 2018’s newest power couple, they do have a point: a second referendum entices both sides with the promise of a final, conclusive say on the B-word.

Let’s face it: the Brexit campaign in 2016 was a poor effort from both sides. In a desperate attempt to swing the vote their way, hypothetical scenarios, facts and figures were construed, forcing the electorate to vote off the back of uncareful and loaded analysis.

A second referendum, timed after a deal is presented to us, would offer voters a chance to vote on much clearer conditions, with a better vision of what a post-Brexit Britain would look like. The first referendum for the UK to leave the EU isn’t legally binding, and a second referendum would help the government to understand where the electorate stands on their ‘final deal’.

After all, much of the Brexit vote was a result of disenchantment, so why not continue to keep us engaged in the future of our country?

The case against a second referendum

By Leo N. Barnes

The calls for a second referendum on leaving the European Union have arisen due to the climate of uncertainty and insecurity that appears to be the trademark of this government. But these calls must be rejected.

One of the most prominent campaign arguments that captured the ambitions of the British public was the desire to reclaim absolute parliamentary sovereignty. This legislative authority was exemplified in the rulings of Miller v. Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, giving parliament authority over the triggering of Article 50.

This responsibility to scrutinise and execute the will of the British people is now in the exclusive hands of parliament, not the electorate, and any attempt to subvert this betrays the foundational aspiration behind leaving the EU.

As such, a second referendum is condemned as being a disastrous breach of trust, at a time that the electorate is disillusioned with the political establishment and tired of unfulfilled pledges.

Furthermore, there is little evidence of demand for a second attempt, with esteemed pollster Sir John Curtice noting that there is ‘no change in the balance of public opinion’ over Brexit’s realisation, thereby relegating the proposal of a second referendum to a position of legislative illegitimacy, electoral betrayal and unnecessary waste.

Photograph: ‘Ungry Young Man’ via Flickr

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