Saturday, June 23, 2018

We had a "people's vote" two years ago

And the people who are calling for one now don't like the fact that their side - and mine - lost.

Two years ago today we had the referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.

The campaigns on neither side covered themselves with glory. For the reasons I explained a couple of days ago I don't think it is helpful to throw the accusation of lying at either campaign, but many people on both sides who ought to have known better were certainly guilty of stretching the truth.

There is also reason to think that some people on both sides may have paid less attention than they should have to financial rules, and their is little doubt that Vladimir Putin's operatives attempted to stir the pot, though I don't believe either of those things changed the result.

But we had a vote and it produced a decision, and until and unless much more convincing evidence emerges that either side cheated than anything I have yet seen, we should respect that result.

Those who are calling for a "people's vote" on the final deal have failed to provide an acceptable answer to the question of what should happen if it produces a "no."

There has to be a crystal clear answer to that question before such a referendum is held or we might find that people have voted for the opposite of what they intended.

The one outcome which it is definitely in the UK's power to deliver in the event of a "No vote" and which might be the unintentional result of a "No" vote anyway, is that Britain crashes out of the EU without any deal.

It is very likely that some of the people who are telling pollsters they support a second referendum are hard Brexit supporters who would like precisely that outcome.  But I'm pretty certain that most of the people protesting today for a "People's vote" would not.

I think most of the people who are campaigning for a second referendum think that a "No" vote should mean cancelling Brexit.

This is a strong contender for the most stupid idea put forward during the entire referendum campaign and aftermath, which is a very high bar for stupidity. Whether they intend it or not this would completely sabotage Britain's negotiating position.

If the EU institutions and the other member states know that we will, or even think that we might, hold another referendum on the possibility of cancelling Brexit when we see the final deal on offer, they have a strong incentive to make that deal as awful as possible. If we then ahve a referendum on an awful deal, whichever way that referendum then goes the consequences for this country will be dire.

The only way that it might have been possible to make a referendum on the deal work had article 50 been drafted differently, would be if a "No" vote meant to go back and try to negotiate a different deal. If we had the time, and if it was clear what sort of changes the people who rejected the deal wanted, you might have been able to do that.

But since Article 50 means that Britain leaves the EU two years after giving notice to do so unless the other member states unanimously agree to extend that deadline, the chances that we would have time to renegotiate a better deal are somewhere between slim and none.

The people have voted to leave the EU. It's time to get on with making that result work.


Jim said...

Thats exactly it. The people campaigning for a referendum on the deal all seem to fail to realise that a "No" would simply result in a No Deal Brexit.

Jim said...

It is true that article 50 is not "Irreversible". At least not long term, as article 50 itself not only states that a member state who has left the EU may apply to rejoin, it also states how to do it.

The thing is though Brexit in this instance can not be stopped. Yes we can apply to rejoin the EU at a later date, but to do that we have to leave.

Often amazes me how people go off in protest on a daft idea without ever thinking it though.

Chris Whiteside said...

Quite. There seems to have been a total absence of thinking through - ironically the same criticism they make of the Brexiteers.

Jim said...

Though we (well some of us) did think it though, there is still a certain book that proves that. :)

Jim said...

even before it was named it was realised that we just could not agree on what we wanted. It never could have worked as everyone seemed to "want" different things, its was a total dogs dinner.

So we stopped, had a regroup, a rethink, and decided lets look at what is possible, what is politically do-able, what is least damaging/most advantageous that again is possible and do-able, and go from there.

the plan had began...........

sadly it seems our "elite" cant manage that stage, so brexit has became a bit of a dogs dinner......

Chris Whiteside said...

As you know, it has been my view for a long time that some Brexit supporters such as the Leave Alliance did think it through, although neither the Vote Leave team or the Leave.EU mob dared to put forward anything resembling a properly considered plan.

And to be fair to them, intelligent Leave supporters recognised all along that disentangling 40 years of British involvement with the body known first as the EEC, then the EC and finally the EU was never going to be simple or easy.

It has been even less easy because cross party divisions in parliament - in several parties, not just the government - have made it extremely hard to agree a negotiating position, and the EU negotiators have taken full advantage of this.