By Peter Cocks
Why I now believe a second referendum would be beneficial for the UK
Just last week, Conservative MP Jo Johnson resigned from his posts within the government, dealing yet another blow to Theresa May’s Brexit plan. Brother of Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London and Foreign Secretary, he handed in his resignation in protest of “the terrible mistake” that is May’s current exit plan. This has served to cement in my mind that a second referendum would be more beneficial for the UK’s population and economy than ploughing ahead on the current road to “never ending purgatory” foretold by Jo Johnson.
In recent months I have been uncertain over the consequences of and reasons for a second referendum, especially when the movement chose to be called a ‘People’s Vote’ which sits uncomfortably with me due to its connotations of universal support for Remain, which (as we saw in 2016) is not the case. However, with recent naïve statements from Dominic Raab over the Dover-Calais crossing (that he “hadn’t quite understood” the importance of it), rumours over the Irish border and this most recent resignation in the government, I now firmly believe a second referendum, no matter the result, should be put forward by our Prime Minister.
It is believed by many economists in the country that the consequences of a no-deal Brexit would cripple the UK’s economy in the short term, and that does not include the chaos that would bring to our public services. Over 10% of our highly-qualified doctors in the NHS are from the EU, and with the National Health Service already struggling under current spending pledges, forcing out such a large proportion of its workforce would collapse this vital public service. In the summer, Health Secretary Matt Hancock had even talked of stockpiling medicines in the case of a no-deal exit from the EU, something that hasn’t been done since the end of the Second World War. In his resignation, Jo Johnson even stated that the Conservative Party’s promises in their 2017 re-election had “proved to be delusions” and that there is no chance that Theresa May could ever deliver the “smooth” Brexit so keenly sought for. This chaos should surely be stopped before it causes lasting damage on our reputation and integrity as a leading democratic nation.
Another point that I believe makes complete sense concerning the second referendum is that in any other walk of life when a decision proves to be the wrong one, or made under false pretences, the decision is reversed. So why isn’t it the same for Brexit? So many pledges of the Brexit campaign have proved to be false, yet even the theory behind this propaganda isn’t being followed in Theresa May’s Brexit. Boris Johnson has even stated that her existing plans do “not remotely correspond to the mandate of the people in June 2016”, and he was the figurehead of that Vote Leave campaign who so sorely wanted to leave the EU in 2016.
Even the argument that the voters of the 2016 referendum would be “betrayed” or that it would be “undemocratic” to turn around on that result are massively flawed. This is because the integrity of a democracy cannot surely be damaged by more public voting, given that is the defining feature of a democracy. I personally believe the integrity of our democracy has already been undermined by the shambolically uninformed and unregulated vote of 2016, of which former remainers such as Jeremy Hunt, Theresa May and Matt Hancock (aforementioned) have been forced to implement. The political convention that referendums are seen as compulsory to follow is also flawed, given their status as effectively a national opinion poll, with no legal power over the government to follow its result.
In conclusion, a second referendum, preferably not under the guise of a ‘People’s Vote’ is the only route by which the UK can either efficiently stop the Brexit process or gift the government a true mandate for its final deal. If not, it would be like buying a car without having any say over the colour, model or cost and currently, we heading towards a wheel-less, feature-less Brexit costing billions of pounds to the British taxpayer.