Is second referendum now out of the question?

Tuesday 29th October 2019

There is no doubt that the first European Referendum was not decisive. Leavers won the argument by only 52 percent to 48 percent and these figures have been used repeatedly to bolster both sides of the debate.

There has been a consistent rallying cry from politicians on both sides of the House that the voters’ mandate must be honoured, that democracy must be seen to be at work, but nevertheless the calls for a second referendum have always remained hovering in the background.

Many would now agree that a binary referendum, or an in/out vote, was always going to lead to chaos because a complex and long relationship with Europe could never be unpicked from this perspective. However, only two weeks ago more than a million protesters marched in the capital for the third time, demanding that the Brexit question should be resolved by a second referendum.

The People’s Vote Campaign has grown in stature in the past three years, in the same way as UKIP and the Brexit Party also grew in favour on the opposite side, but no political party has, as yet, seen this as a formula that they can wholeheartedly support.

As we see from today’s headlines, Boris Johnson is going to try to trigger a general election again, and while opposition parties are loathe to support this move, they are even more averse to another referendum.

There has been some discussion among those in the Labour Party that a confirmatory vote could be useful, when and if, a deal has finally been sealed with the EU, but not a vote which asks the same in/out question as before.

Labour MPs have argued that if a referendum was offered in these circumstances, when the population could see clearly what was on the table and how the country would be impacted by the Brexit deal, then the country as a whole could be re-united.

Neither Theresa May or Boris Johnson have ever offered, or even suggested that a second referendum would be on offer, but in this strange political landscape, it is not beyond belief, that in another twist in the road, that this could happen.

After all, the odds of Johnson proroguing parliament were ridiculously low only six months ago!

These are strange times.

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