With a seemingly never-ending Brexit deadlock, the hopes of millions of people across this country of Brexit being delivered is ebbing away, and the possibility of a second referendum continues to increase.
The 2016 referendum on our membership of the European Union was the largest democratic exercise in generations. It brought out a movement of people who had never voted before. It brought together a coalition of people from across the country; of different ages, genders, ethnicity and class. Yet today, the vote of 17.4million people is treated with disdain, perhaps even embarrassment, from certain quarters of the political class: those who demand a second referendum to ‘sort out this Brexit mess’. To be clear, if I could have voted in 2016, I would have voted to Remain. Today, the prospect of a second referendum frightens me.
The issue of a Second Referendum is not only a debate about our membership of the European Union, or the Government’s ability to deliver Brexit. It is a debate about the very nature of our democracy, and our democratic values.
The people were free to choose, and they chose to Leave. They voted for Brexit, as the vessel by which their lives would be improved, and their voices heard by a Westminster elite seemingly indifferent to their concerns. Their concerns were brushed aside as wild Euroscepticism, or as unease with the modern age. At one point or another I found myself thinking ‘they must be mad’ to have voted to Leave. That ‘my future had been stolen’ from me. Yet, in our current political climate, it is most imperative that we do so.
Instead of giving Britain the possibility of transcending the division between Leavers and Remainers in the form of a pragmatic Brexit, turning our backs on the democratic will of the British people in the form of a second referendum, would reinforce the dividing lines of British politics.
It would say to millions of people across this country, who voted for the first time, that their voice doesn’t matter. That their politicians do not represent their views, and that our democracy has failed them.
Of course, Remainers will retort that the British people are free to change their minds. They fail to tell you what that entails. Would that entail a third referendum to make sure the result of the second was representative? Or perhaps a fourth referendum when the losing side decide Britain has changed its mind once more?
The decision to leave the European Union was a landmark moment in our social and political history. A moment tantamount to political revolution. A second referendum has the potential to usher Britain into a never-ending spiral of democratic stasis. It would lead to the erosion of people’s faith into our democratic institutions, and in the ability of government to deal with their concerns.
We must deliver on the will of the British people. The very essence of our democracy, depends on it.