Now Farage floats second EU referendum idea

Back in the spotlight? Farage has been accused of “nostalgia” and “attention-seeking”.

Who would win a second Brexit referendum? Until Thursday, it had only been unhappy Remainers who had pushed for a rerun of the June 2016 vote. But then Nigel Farage had his say…

Will Britain ever actually leave the EU? Could the whole Brexit process be reversed?

These questions have been nagging away at Britain ever since the historic, unexpected vote for Leave in June 2016. Many hardcore Remainers, such as Tony Blair, Nick Clegg and Andrew Adonis, have long harboured hopes that there could be another referendum with the same binary in-out question.

Leavers have chided such calls as the whining of bad losers: if a second referendum were held, why not a third and a fourth? But now the group pushing for a second vote has recruited the most unlikely advocate: Nigel Farage.

Last week the former UKIP leader, seen by many as Brexit’s chief architect, argued that if another vote were held, it would lead to a more decisive victory for the Leave campaign and silence Remain supporters “for a generation”. He then clarified his remarks, saying “Of course I don’t want one. But I do not trust the sheer dishonesty of our political class.”

Early this year the next round of negotiations will begin. There has now been agreement on three separation issues, and talks will move on to a future trading relationship. These talks are likely to focus on the terms for a “transition period” of around two years to smooth the change in relations.

But Farage believes that the Remain side is now dominating the debate. “They have a majority in Parliament and unless we get ourselves organised we could lose the historic victory that was Brexit.”

The prospect of another vote is unappealing to many: another “soupcon of rancour, division and irritation”, as Rod Liddle writes in The Sunday Times. And it may solve little, as the evidence suggests it would be another close affair.

Leave triumphed only narrowly: 51.9% to 48.1%, and the polling since the vote has shown that public opinion has shifted remarkably little, although the latest findings suggest a slight lead for Remain. But the polls were wrong last time.

So how would a second referendum play out?

Best of three?

Remain would prevail, say some. Now that the public has seen what a nightmare Brexit is turning out to be, enough people would change their vote. And as David Aaronovitch points out, the older generation who voted most heavily for Brexit are, to be blunt, dying, while Generation Z, who are more likely to be pro-EU, are reaching voting age.

Leave would win again, reply others. A second referendum would be widely seen as an insult to voters by politicians who did not like the original verdict. Leavers would be even more certain of their vote, and would be joined by some Remainers who see the second vote as undemocratic. People simply want to get this over with, and a Leave vote would help that process.

You Decide

  1. Should there be a second referendum on Brexit?
  2. And who would win it?

Activities

  1. List the three things you want most from the Brexit negotiations.
  2. Write 500 words on whether you think there should be more referendums. Or fewer?

Some People Say...

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Winston Churchill

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Nigel Farage has suggested that a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU may be inevitable, and that he believes a Leave vote would solve the issue for a generation. We know that bookmakers still do not think a second referendum is very likely, especially before Britain’s official exit date of March 29th 2019.
What do we not know?
Whether the result of a second referendum would solve the issue forever. If the vote to leave had grown significantly, it would be hard for Remainers to argue for another vote, but what would happen if Leave still won, but with a reduced vote? We also do not know whether Leavers would demand a third vote if they lost.

Word Watch

Andrew Adonis
Adonis, a Labour peer, resigned as the government’s social mobility tsar in protest at Theresa May’s approach to Brexit and has vowed to “sabotage” Britain’s withdrawal.
Brexit’s chief architect
Although no person is more synonymous with Brexit than the former UKIP leader, Farage did not play a significant part in Vote Leave, the officially designated campaign. Instead he campaigned via Leave.EU — a more nationalist campaign which focused heavily on immigration.
Three separation issues
These are the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, the “divorce bill” that the UK pays the EU, and the arrangements for the Northern Ireland border.
51.9% to 48.1%
England and Wales voted to leave, while Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as London, voted to remain.
Older generation
Almost three quarters of those aged 18 to 24 voted to stay in the EU, compared with 62% of 25-to-34s and 52% of 35-to-44s. Support for Brexit formed a majority among every other age category and grew with each, peaking at 60% among those aged 65 and over.

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