Recently, there have been calls for a second EU referendum. This referendum would likely ask voters three questions whether to: accept a negotiated Brexit deal, remain in the EU, or leave with no deal. But why, two years after the UK voted to leave the EU, are we debating holding another referendum? What will it achieve? Another referendum would be unjust, illogical and divisive. There should not be a second referendum.
The vote to leave must be respected; the legitimacy of our democracy and any future referendum depends on it. An attempt to hold another referendum is an attempt to reverse or soften the process of Brexit - the very process that the UK voted for. It is clear that those advocating for a second referendum (The Independent, The People’s Vote, Our Future Our Choice, etc.) have one overarching goal in mind: to ensure that Britain remains in the EU. To these groups, holding a second referendum means a chance to reverse the initial decision. If so, then what about the result of the first referendum?
A second referendum would completely disregard the initial vote, rendering it pointless, a farce and a betrayal to the majority who voted to leave. A vote to leave the EU meant exactly that. It meant leaving the single market, the customs union and everything EU. What else could a vote to leave have possibly meant to voters?
Furthermore, a second referendum is impractical. There is not enough time to organise a second referendum before we leave the EU in March 2019. Also, to hold another referendum before we have actually left and see what life is like outside the EU is absurd.
As well as this, how can one take any future referendum seriously after we hold another so soon after the first? Of course, there are those who argue that the vote of the elderly to leave will have an adverse impact on the young. They contend that as this generation will eventually die off, the younger generation left to live through the effects of Brexit deserve another referendum. The vote of the elderly to leave is no less valid than the vote of the young; certainly not so invalid as to warrant another referendum. This is an argument against democracy and this logic alludes to foolish policies, such as capping the voting age.
This argument also forgets that all current political decisions taken in the present have some bearing on the future, which is an unavoidable aspect of democracy. We have given the people a vote, and apparently ‘we’ do not like the result. Are we going to like the result of a second referendum any more than the first? Unlikely. It is probable that another referendum will leave the country even more divided than it is now.
The government must deliver the wish of the public: to leave the EU. The government should continue to negotiate for the best deal and make apt preparations in the event of a no deal. It is the responsibility of parliament to support this process. The Nation should be optimistic about life for Britain outside the EU, it does not have to be disastrous. It is true that life outside the EU for Britain remains an uncertainty, but let’s not write ourselves off before we have even left. Even in the worst case scenario, Britain will still be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council; it will still be a nuclear power; it will still lay claim to some of the best universities in the world; it will still have London - one of the financial capitals of the world; it will still have great relationships with EU member states and other countries across the World; and, importantly, it will still be revered as a welcoming place to come to work and study. We would do well to remember that.