Yes – Max Waller
We are now in a much better position to know what Brexit looks like compared to the 2016 referendum. A referendum which saw a debate consisting of lies and electoral fraud. We are now in a position to have a sober and informed discussion about what a vote for Brexit means, and about whether it’s what we actually want.
The Leave campaign promised to take back control. The Leave campaign promised to give £350 Million to the NHS. The Leave campaign assured us that we would be able to get the easiest trade deal in history. The Leave campaign told us we would be better off. Now we know that the so called Brexit dividend is a myth. It’s fantastical Brexit unicorn.
We have not managed to make any trade deals at the time of writing, and the Government’s deal was summarily rejected by the House of Commons in the largest parliamentary defeat in history.
As for taking back control. We are not in fact taking it back, but losing it. The rejected government deal would have left Northern Ireland under EU jurisdiction, laws which we would cease to have a say in making. The proposed panacea of the European Economic Area (also known as the Norway Option) would mean swapping a seat at the table for a chair in the hall, to paraphrase the words of the Norwegian foreign secretary. We would become a rule taker rather than a rule maker, and lose control in the process.
The plane crash known as the no deal option does not offer the freedom that the Brexiteers so crave. It means either tariffs on our exports, or no tariffs at all – allowing cheaply made foreign goods to eviscerate parts of our economy.
Tariffs aside, it would destroy the UK’s manufacturing industry, because export rules require certain percentages of products to be made with parts that originate in the UK. At present the UK includes for trade purposes the EU, but the minute we leave that will cease to be the case. Hence why car manufacturers are moving production abroad, and halting it in the UK.
The hard fact is that people will lose jobs. That’s fine if you’re a multimillionaire like Jacob Rees-Mogg or James Dyson, but not if your livelihood depends on a factory that has just relocated to the EU.
Annabel argues that a People’s Vote would undermine the democratic principles that the United Kingdom is founded upon.
This is a popular view among those who won the referendum. The idea is that it would create some sort of hostility, and undermine people’s faith in democracy.
Yet a democracy should be able to change its mind, given what we now know about what Brexit looks like.Given that the government is recruiting ferry companies that don’t have ferries in preparation for a no deal Brexit, it’s probably fair to say that this was not what was promised. Leaving now, with so much dispute over what Brexit will look like will only divide the country further.
The Conservative party, a party that once prided itself on economic sense, is preparing to put the country into a self-inflicted recession. Parliament should be able to go back to the electorate and ask their advice once again for what kind of Brexit deal, or indeed, if we want to change our minds on Brexit.
We have a long history of democratic discourse and disagreement, and we should not be scared of another referendum. We change our minds in elections all the time – voting in different members of parliament, and changing the government. As a representative legislature, Parliament is not bound by the result of the referendum, but seeks to honour it. It is quite clear that they have no idea what that means. For the government it meant supporting May’s deal, despite clearly putting Northern Ireland under a different jurisdiction. For members of the Conservative backbenches it means leaving on World Trade association rules, or seeking a Norway deal.
A People’s Vote gives them the opportunity to seek guidance on these issues. A People’s Vote is the right way to resolve the mess that lying leave campaign have left us to deal with. They mislead the electorate. It’s time that parliament presents us with a new referendum to help them settle the question of what Brexit is going to look like. We would need an extension, but the EU have said we can haven one. Choose democracy. Trust the electorate. We should have a People’s Vote.
No – Annabel Steele
I voted Remain and I stand by that vote. I do not believe that the outcome of the referendum was a positive one, and I still believe Brexit will be damaging to the reputation and the state
of the United Kingdom. This isn’t a debate about Brexit – it’s a debate specifically about the second referendum, which is an outstandingly unsupportable political decision. Without elaborating on the obstacles we would have to overcome on the path to a second vote – most notably, approval from the EU to extend article 50, which has been opposed by the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, amongst others – there is simply no case strong enough to outweigh the threat which a second referendum would pose to democracy and to the stability of our nation.
It seems paradoxical to suggest that a second referendum could be undemocratic – the very definition of a referendum should immunise it from this stamp. But proposing a second referendum naturally undermines the validity of the first, the outcome of which was to be respected and effectuated by the government no matter what, according to David Cameron. To argue that the referendum was never binding in the first place not only impairs the validity of the first vote but prematurely undermines the outcome of the second. After all, a politician’s job is not to keep asking the same questions until the easiest answer is given: it is to deal with our demands, however demanding they might be, in order to preserve the integrity of democratic principles. The de-legitimising of our democracy is a far greater crisis than Brexit and, judging by the state of our current government, I find it hard to believe they would cope admirably with a catastrophe of that stature.
The Brexit vote was one of the most divisive in modern British political history. The relevance of Brexit’s potential consequences for everyone, the overwhelming coverage of the entire process, and the lack of information from both sides resulted in a debate which not only engaged the entire population but split the country in half. After years of movement towards a centrist politics no longer defined by the extremes of a left known for its delusional idealisation of socialism and a right known for being hard and capitalist, the Brexit debate undid any progress made to that end as it split the country right down the middle. The campaigns didn’t just dominate headlines; they dominated physical public spaces with obnoxious billboards and sometimes blatantly racist propaganda. These wounds would be reopened by a second referendum. The entire process has been utterly exhausting, and another Brexit campaign trail would drive this country into the ground.
But, of all the arguments being thrown around by those advocating a second referendum, the most popular by far is this illusion that we ‘know more’ about Brexit, its difficulties and its consequences now than we did in 2016. At one end, the Leave campaign was a devastating conglomeration of lies which broke electoral laws with its falsities. At the other, the Remainers relied almost exclusively on terrifying people away from voting Leave, with characters such as Donald Tusk preaching that the entirety of western political civilisation would be destroyed, a claim yet to fulfil itself. It would therefore be mad to argue that we were ever given comprehensive evidence from either side. But it is even more ludicrous to argue that the reality of Brexit is now clear. We haven’t a clue what Brexit is all about now, and it is naïve to believe we ever will; that belief places far more trust in modern politicians than they deserve. A second campaign trail would utilise deception and manipulation of facts to as great an extent as the first did. We must consider that there is another dimension to the process of drawing our own conclusions, beyond the so-called facts we are force-fed by both sides. All politicians lie; persuasive deceit has practically become a requirement for the job. Even Barack Obama, one of the blessed few who boasts a relatively positive political reputation, made countless false promises during his presidential campaign.
The country voted for Brexit from within the dense fog of political rhetoric, and while the view might have cleared up on one side, it is only because the mist is now obfuscating another area. Mendacity is an inherent characteristic of modern political discourse, and we cannot point the finger at lying politicians in order to support the devaluation of a democratic vote; if we do, we will be voting and re-voting on Brexit for the rest of our lives.