Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Should there be a referendum on the final Brexit deal?

Not the most original topic here but I thought I'd get my thoughts on the record.

1. There should be a referendum on whether to accept the final deal

I'm one of many who is sceptical of the idea that the majority of people wanted any specific type of Brexit, particularly since the campaigners promised many impossible or incompatible things. This is a big problem for the government in their negotiations - votes for Brexit gave no explicit notion of what those voters wanted Brexit to look like.

It is therefore quite likely that the final negotiated outcome will be one that isn't to the liking of the vast majority of the UK population (at best representing 20-25% of the population's preference, more likely representing 1%).  Pretty crazy to cause huge damage to our country to give 1% of the population something they would like.

I'm of the view that once the government has negotiated the best possible deal with the EU this should be put to the voters with three options (Single transferable vote):

  • Leave the EU with the deal on offer
  • Leave the EU and reject the offer
  • Remain in the EU
You might refer to the options as 'softer Brexit' 'hardest Brexit' and remain. 

I expect remain would win such a vote, but perhaps if the government comes up with a great deal then even some previously sceptical remain voters would vote for it.

After all, if we really could leave the EU with all the benefits and none of the burdens then I might vote to leave. I didn't vote to leave in the referendum because it was always complete fantasy that the EU would give a state a good deal for leaving.

2. The government should not announce a referendum

So I'm hugely in favour of a referendum but it would be a terrible idea for the government to announce this in advance.

If the EU knew there would be another referendum then they would lose any slight incentive they currently have to offer a half-decent deal to the UK. From the EU perspective offering a bad deal increases the chances that remain will win a referendum.

If such a referendum is then lost then the Brexiteers will no doubt cry foul that the prospect of another referendum actually ruined the chances of a successful Brexit.

That's why I think there should be another referendum but that the government shouldn't announce it until the last possible minute.