Dear Partners in thought,
It is always wise not to comment too much on events that are unfolding so rapidly as with the Brexit process even if Ms. May “kicks the can down the road” in the hope of finding more time for the outcome she would like for her deal. So far and even if MPs have finally a say in the process (which they should), nothing has shown that the most likely ultimate outcome short of a No Deal abyss would not take place if one would be able to cut through the battlefield noise. A second referendum is looming more clearly as the only viable way forward than ever, this even if a challenging choice for many, including at party level and for different reasons, at a time where there is no ideal avenue.
Ms. May struggles to stress that a second referendum, she now de facto acknowledges as a possibility, would create “irreparable damage” on the country’s politics and would be “faith breaking” as if to steer MPs to finally vote for her unloved deal, which she thought was the pragmatic antidote to No Deal chaos. Leave MPs seem to have worked for a few days on plans for a second poll (incidentally being potentially short of potential campaign officials due to the Electoral Commission’s investigations for violation of campaign law). However they are getting ready as they can also understand simple logics. While they would bet on many Leave voters to reaffirm their earlier choice, some of them as a matter of principle, they are no longer sure as they were in 2017 that it would be enough to win the day any longer as some Leave voters would switch on the face of facts while more Britons would vote this time, especially the younger generations. As the probable majority of the UK electorate would back staying in the EU at this point in British history, the Brexiteers would then make the vote not on the EU but on democracy itself, bringing the famed “will of the people” to the fore.
It would be a great example of sophistry if “democracy” was used as a way to attack the very democratic ability for people in a free country to revisit a matter so crucial as the one at stake, having the ability to reassess such an existential matter two and half years later in the absence of any other viable option. “Democracy” should not be used to prevent democracy itself or enshrine an outcome that may not be in the best interests of the people without giving them the ability to revisit matters when warranted. Democracy should always give people a voice, which incidentally is not the same as guaranteeing any poll outcome. Any opposition to a second referendum today, that is superficially based on the earlier “will of the people”, is in fact derived from the realisation that the people have likely changed their minds based on a fuller understanding of what Brexit means. While it is fair to recognise the right of Brexiteers to try to preserve the result of the June 2016 poll, sheer politics should not deprive the people’s basic rights to have a direct say on such a key matter today given the light of events.
Putting aside the deafening noise and the cheap fearmongering, it is highly likely that Parliament (the “mother of modern democracy” after all), when it finally is able to regain its voice, will back a second referendum, humbly and wisely deferring to the people to make the most important choice or indeed reassessment of their generation, this possibly with the three questions we know. The British people indeed deserve a second chance and only they can finally decide for themselves.
Serge Desprat- Dec 18th, 2018 (Prague)