Not The Last Word: UK Voters Should Get Second EU Referendum

27/06/2016 16:49

As I write the number of people who have signed the EU referendum petition has just passed the 2,000,000 mark. It is early on Saturday evening. By the time this blog is published (probably Sunday lunchtime) the number of people seeking a second referendum - for good reasons set out below - will be substantially greater.

In the last two days, I have been stopped numerous times in the street, have received a vast number of messages on LinkedIn and Twitter and many emails asking me to try and find a way to reverse what happened on Thursday. I have also, of course, received some abusive messages after saying on BBC 1's Breakfast programme this morning that a second referendum could be an option. I have been accused of being a poor loser, but I am not a politician. I am just an ordinary citizen who is concerned about the future of our country.

Boris Johnson said at the beginning of the campaign that if there was a leave vote, there was a possibility of a further renegotiation with Brussels and a second referendum

When the idea of a referendum on our membership of the European Union was first muted, I thought it very unlikely that the nation would vote to leave. Once the campaign started, it quickly became clear that immigration was going to be the key issue and I struggled to see what arguments Remain supporters could put that would overcome the emotion that surrounded that issue. In election campaigns, economic growth and the state of the jobs market are the key issues that often determine the outcome, but in this instance, warnings about the serious implications that a vote to leave would have for the economy were dismissed as "scaremongering".

But there is another reason why so many people voted to remain. Across the Western world, more and more people feel that the establishment (politicians and big business) has let them down, with little growth in wages and rising house prices playing a major part in creating discontent. By voting to leave the European Union and confounding the pundits, the people of Britain rocked the establishment on both sides of the Channel to the core and the Prime Minister felt compelled to resign. It is notable that many of those who did vote leave are now expressing regret and that is why it is not so fanciful to ask for a second referendum.

Boris Johnson said at the beginning of the campaign that if there was a leave vote, then one possibility might be that we could have a further renegotiation with Brussels and then a second referendum. It appears that many people are now beginning to realize the enormity of the vote to leave and support is growing for this approach. Of course, the Conservative party now needs to go through the process of electing a new leader before we will know who will be the next Prime Minister and it will be up to Cameron's successor to decide. But if the people make their views known in the meantime by signing the petition, then the new Prime Minister may be persuaded that Thursday's vote should not constitute the final word on the matter.