So there’s going to be a vote on whether or not to have another referendum. And that means Brexit’s dead, right? Well, no. Sadly not.
For a start, the referendum bill is quite unlikely to pass in the House of Commons even if Labour do come out in support of it, which is by no means certain.
But let’s ignore that and assume it does, and that we have another referendum on EU membership – a “People’s Vote”.
The big problem with this, as all of us who said Brexit was a totally insane idea right from the start know only too well, is that The People are politically illiterate and couldn’t rub two genuine EU policies together if their lives depended on it.
Many polls (yeah, bias, inaccuracy, whatever, not going to discuss that now) show that a vote might not actually produce a result much different from last time.
So let’s say it’s the same – 52% Leave, 48% Remain. Does that represent more of a mandate to leave than the first time around? Does it, in fact, represent a mandate to leave with no deal – currently the only option on the table?
Clearly not. No more would a 52/48 split the other way represent a clear mandate to remain, after all this time and a second vote.
In fact, I’ll go even further. I don’t think even a 60/40 split – either way – would be sufficiently clear at this stage for the other side to just go “It’s a fair cop” and stop being furious about the result. And can we realistically expect even that level of clarity from our fellow Brits? I strongly doubt it.
So even if we have a second referendum, with all that entails in terms of vitriol and – above all – even more delay and concomittant cost to the nation in both money and stress, we still won’t be able to achieve a ceasefire.
Because although it’s never been declared, we’ve been enmeshed in civil war for two and a half years now. The Brexit Civil War.
With rare exceptions it may not be being fought physically, but it’s certainly being fought every day across the mental landscape of Britons and anyone else unfortunate enough to live in the war zone. And it’s having consequences just as serious as any physical conflict.
And given that, perhaps… just perhaps… it’s time for all of our politicians to stop trying to score points off each other and actually come together and do something practical to get us out of this situation?*
By all accounts, this is the position the UK was in at the start of the Second World War, with politicians unable to agree as to what stance to take on a whole range of issues. Then we were lucky enough to have someone like Churchill who could unite everyone behind him.
So with just 71 days to go until Britain crashes out of the EU, who’s going to step up and put the country ahead of their career this time? Because it’s certainly not going to be control freak Theresa May** or her enabler Jeremy Corbyn.
*My own preferred option would now be EEA membership, with a plan to review that on, say, a rolling five year basis. No, it’s not perfect, particularly in terms of the gammon-relevant immigration issue, but it’s a whole lot better than anything we’re currently being offered.
**I have much to say about Theresa May, none of it polite, but that’s a subject for another post. As for JC – as a leftie Europhile I can’t remotely begin to express the depths of my disappointment in that man, so I shan’t even try.