Words of warning on a Second Referendum

I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats for nearly a year now and a supporter since about 2012. I respect the party’s decision to advocate a second referendum in order to give Britain the opportunity to remain. Since the PM came back with her deal, I’ve put a lot of thought into whether to personally support a second referendum or not and have concluded that as a party we are playing with fire, a fire that will catch to a tinder dry nation and isn’t something we’re going to be able to control. Even if you disagree with me that a second referendum is the right thing to do this should give you cause for thought, if this is a referendum you genuinely want to win.

The powder in the country is dry. The trenches are dug. Nobody has come closer together since the original referendum in 2016. Polling by YouGov shows little movement: it’s 54 to 46 in favour of Remain. That’s a figure that you could have got in polls prior to the referendum. Even more worryingly of those that would vote Leave, only 10 percent would be prepared to change their mind after a campaign (11 percent of Remain would).

Minds haven’t changed and aren’t prepared to be changed. This assumes that supporters of a second referendum can agree on a question to pose. Almost every type of second vote has been proposed: a three way May’s vs Remain vs No Deal, No Deal vs May’s, May’s vs Remain. Each has its own merits and demerits depending on who you ask. In my opinion any referendum that puts No Deal on the ballot is as irresponsible as holding the first referendum altogether: be careful what you wish for. With margins so tight in the polls, calling a referendum with unknown result is risky business indeed.

This disagreement over the question also hits on the disunity of the pro-Remain coalition. If a second referendum was to be called the way the larger beasts of politics would fall is unknown. Labour still pursue their dishonest can kicking exercise so whether they’d be officially Remain is up for debate. Tories would be split no matter which option was on the ballot and the power of HM Government machine would be going for May’s Deal. Whether such a campaign could have a cohesive message to reach out to, rather than talk down to, the Leave voting majority worries me massively. Just think, the Brexiters campaign is pre-written with “tell ‘em again” before we’ve even got a team together.

The campaign itself is what dealt the decisive blow to my second referendum fandom. Notice I don’t call it a People’s Vote, since only 53% want the referendum to decide (the rest want MPs to decide). Nearly half of people don’t want a vote. That’s a large proportion of people who will be angry and unreachable to start with. A second referendum will open a pandoras box of politically poisonous discourse that isn’t going back. Wait for the anger at those being told to vote again because the vote went the wrong way. You thought the first one was bad: wait for the second.

I hope that if you want a second referendum you can prove me wrong: I’ll be out there campaigning for Remain alongside you if you can.

* Henry Wright is a Liberal Democrat member of 1 year who also occasionally blogs his views on centrism

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  • John Marriott 7th Jan '19 - 8:28am

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Mr Wright. I’ve been saying the same on LDV for some time. Every other avenue has to be explored before we ask people to vote again. If we do then, as ‘Margot Channing’ said in ‘ All about Eve’, we had better batten down the hatches’. We could indeed be in for a ‘bumpy ride’.

  • The party should not only support a second referendum, but have a red line policy of rejoining the EU if we exit. If Labour grow up and ditch Corbynism/Hoeyism for adult market economics, then if we enter a coalition with them, we should insist on rejoining the EU as a red line (with the Euro / Schengen).

    Equally if the Tories ditch the lunatic ERG and go back to being a moderate pro economic liberal party, we should only go into coalition if they agree to rejoining the EU.

    If people want communist Brexit they have Labour. If people want Empire Loyalist Brexit they have the Tories.

    Who does Remain have? Renew / Women’s Equality? Not going to cut it. We need to be militant Remain and passionate federalists.

  • A key finding from the yougov poll is that people do NOT think this is a re-run of the 2016 referendum.

    By more than 2 to 1 the say that it would represent a different referendum (48%) to a re-run of the one in 2016 (22%). (Neither 11%, Don’t know 19%). With a roughly even split amongst those that voted Leave (Different: 30%, re-run 35%).


    It is now the case that Europe and constitutional issues in general are determined by referendums. We regularly allow General Elections in which we can elect a Government to change theoretically at least every law that one elected a few years before has enacted – and often does in key areas. The same has to be applied to referendum-decided issues. I venture anything less is not to be a democrat.

    In fact the polling shows a very clear trend and a widening gap in favour of Remain and against Leave since Autumn 2017 when they were level. https://twitter.com/britainelects/status/1075804655152783360

  • I disagree.

    There’s absolutely no way that May’s deal will pass, and there’s no majority in parliament for any alternative (even if an alternative was on the table, which it isn’t). That means the no deal is the current default position.

    The sensible referendum is between May’s deal and remain, but even in the worst case scenario of no deal being on the ballot and winning, that’s just keeping us in our current mess rather than making things worse.

    As for whether we’d win: yes, you’re right that most people haven’t changed their minds. But it’s worth noting that about twice as many people have joined the electorate since 2016 as leave’s margin of victory, and a similar number have left it. Even without anyone changing their minds individually, the will of the people has changed because ‘the people’ has changed.

  • John Marriott 7th Jan '19 - 9:52am

    @David Hopps
    With an attitude like that I can already see the sparks flying. What did the late Bill Shankly say about what was more important as ‘a matter of life or death’? As for ‘the values of our nation’, I would have put ‘compromise’ high on the list, which is probably what will win in the end.

    @Michael 1
    You are obviously a clever fellow who always appears to do his homework; but are you really going to draw your conclusion based on a few opinion polls. Remember where the polls stood before the last EU Referendum campaign kicked off.

  • John Marriott 7th Jan '19 - 10:28am

    In case anyone did read my first post, I must apologise for misquoting Bette Davis’ character. What she actually said was to “fasten your seat belts” as we could be in for a “bumpy night”. Also, in my second post, my reference to Mr Shankly was concerning his famous quote that football (i.e. Brexit) wasn’t a matter of life or death; but more important than that. I need to do my homework, don’t I, Mr 1?

  • @John Marriott

    Thanks for the comment! I think the point is that I am not basing my conclusion “on a few opinion polls”. If we are talking about Leave versus Remain then there is a clear trend in favour of Remain. I would suggest as to whether people see it as a “re-run” – the evidence is very clear that they don’t – massively beyond any margins of error.

    Now two things can (broadly) happen with Remain — we vote for Brexit in which case the matter is reasonably settled for a while. Or we vote for Remain in which case that this is the democratic will of the people and we have fulfilled people’s democratic wishes. And yes – I can see us at least having pressure for a further referendum after that.

    In a democracy nothing is finally settled! This is a huge advantage of democracies. It is said that an aeroplane is off course on most of its journey across say the Atlantic but it is continuously self-correctin. If you ban general elections or referendums then you don’t allow this self-correcting mechanism.

  • Sandra Hammett 7th Jan '19 - 11:01am

    A People’s Vote/Second Referendum (already a split over the name) can only be worth running if we are sure of winning by at least 70%, anything less and we’d need a third (this one already has a name it’s called a tiebreaker).
    Are sure of winning? I’m not.
    We have absolutely not plan for losing again. Unfortunately we have currently hinged everything on our opposition to Brexit.

  • @John Marriott

    2. Things that can go “wrong” with opinion polls

    Opinion polls are badly misrepresented by the media and poorly understood. There are a number of things that can go “wrong”.

    Error: With +/- 3% margin of error in most standard polls then 5% of the time a 6% lead actually means a tie or the other side in the lead. You just got an unrepresentative sample by chance. The yougov poll had a sample of 25,000 so it is highly likely that Remain is (at this moment) in the lead.

    People “lying” to the pollsters: I think this is quite likely reason why the polls in 2016 were wrong in the last week. The polls moved to Remain after a Leave lead in the last week before the referendum after the sad murder of Jo Cox. I am not sure they were exactly lying – they may have moved to saying that they were undecided, not really admitted it to themselves etc. This may be happening now but it is unlikely.

    Time: Of course a referendum will not happen tomorrow and a campaign and time may change people’s views. But as we have discussed on LDV, demographic change is in Remain’s favour.

    Turnout: While the pollsters correct for this. I think it fair to say that it is something they have struggled with. And in the 2016 referendum Leavers were more likely to turn out than Remainers. You then saw this changed as these people “learnt their lesson” and younger and liberal/left-of-centre people turned out more in the 2017 General than they had previously. Everyone will assume the result of another referendum will be close.

    Badly conducted polls: This may be the case but it does seem that most of the major pollsters in the UK conduct reasonably well conducted polls and they rely on their reputations for the more lucrative market research polls

    So the polls may be “wrong” but I would be pretty certain that they aren’t but time may change things!

  • Richard Underhill 7th Jan '19 - 12:10pm

    The electorate is changing! People who were under18 in 2016 have got older, by at least two years and are more positive for Remain. Some older people have died. Some very old people have also died, they were among those who understood that the origins of the EU were to try to prevent repetition of the wars of 1870, 1914 and 1939.
    The late middle-aged had an opportunity to vote in a referendum on Europe in 1975, which was the first referendum on any subject in the UK. We should not allow leavers to control the count. There have been many other referendums, for instance on Scottish independence, on the Northern Ireland peace settlement (North and South) on devolution for Wales, for London, even at borough council level on the issue of domestic rates being charged under council tax.
    Having lots of referendums helps people to get used to this form of democracy (the Swiss led the way) but we also have a parliamentary elected democracy and it is time for parliament to speak.
    The PM’s policy of procrastination today, procrastination tomorrow and procrastination afterwards is undemocratic and she should be ashamed of herself.
    She is simultaneously arguing that the 1975 referendum is history and the 2016 referendum is not, which is about as logical as calling for support for the 2010 general election in preference to the 2017 general election.
    MPs are not impressed by her delaying tactics. Members of the Labour Party increasingly want a popular vote, which is only a second preference for their MPs. The people must choose. They are not just British, they also include Irish, Maltese and Cypriots, but not, regrettably and shamefully, some British citizens living abroad.

  • Imagine if Vince turned on both Comrade Corbyn and May and called for Britain to join the Euro.

    That would certainly throw the pair of them and show them up to be the chancers they are.

    I’d like to see full federalisation on any referendum. Our “in but not fully in” status has lead to this mess in the first place. Britain has been treated like a favourite child for too long.

  • Yeovil Yokel 7th Jan '19 - 12:28pm

    Henry, I disagree with virtually every single sentence of your overly-dramatic article, but I haven’t got the time to go through it line by line. By all means criticise the Party’s position (which is not an isolated one) on holding a referendum to determine the country’s way forward, but it is beholden on you to suggest a realistic alternative.

    “….calling a referendum with unknown result is risky business indeed” – that is true of all the possible courses of action because there will be many unhappy losers whatever the country or Parliament decide to do. It may, though, be that a referendum will be the least riskier option with the greatest chance of delivering a route out of this mess.

  • Nigel Jones 7th Jan '19 - 12:28pm

    I live in North Staffs, the ‘Brexit capital’ and a majority of people seem still to be very strongly opposed to the EU; they think the EU is treating us so badly over the negotiations their views have even been strengthened. They feel they want complete independence, whatever the consequences. As two local MPs said yesterday on World at One, many believe firmly that the decline of our area is due to the EU.
    They are mistaken, but will only believe this if we left and the area suffered even more over a period of 10years. Matthew Paris in a Times article just before Christmas argued that any kind of leaving would produce decline but it would be gradual and all Brexiteers would not accept it is due to leaving for many years, if ever. So Henry Wright is right to point to a nasty campaign, but what else can we do ?
    Chris Patten suggested a reasonable strategy yesterday; beat May’s deal and then vote against a no deal, both in Parliament, following this by extending Article 50 so that we can renegotiate or revoke Article 50 subsequently. Failing this in Parliament we would then have reached the point for having another referendum.
    I think however, that any weakening of our call for a people’s vote as the ONLY way now to move will result in many of our new members leaving the party. Indeed, such a reversal of our stand might cause most others to say once again that we as a party cannot be trusted to stand by our principles. If that happens, we are doomed.

  • marcstevens 7th Jan '19 - 12:54pm

    I think that’s the point, you stick to your principles and the Lib Dems have always traditionally been a pro European pro EU party. It would be hypocritical to then denounce supporters of a second referendum as the party has placed itself in line with the majority of its supporters as has the Greens on the same issue.

    Of course there are plenty of other issues the party should be campaigning with a higher profile on alongside the EU such as crime, fracking/the environment and improved transport connectivity particularly in the North to name a few. Another issue springs to mind is the NHS, I have just read an article that many EU nationals working in our hospitals re now planning to leave the country fed up with xenophobic comments and their lack of job security. What a travesty that would be, having been treated in London hospitals by such staff I can vouchsafe for the excellent high quality of care I have been lucky to experience from these staff. As a party we should be sticking up for these people, standing up against xenophobia rather than pandering to the right and Orange Booker types who will go along with what the government eventually decides on our EU membership.

  • Henry Wright 7th Jan '19 - 1:00pm

    Thanks to all for your comments! This comment section is much more civil than many I’ve been involved in before.
    @Yeovil Yokel, outlining what I think the alternative is would have put me quite a way over the suggested word count. I believe that the easiest way out with minimal damage to the economy and national discourse is to leave with an EFTA/EEA deal a la Norway.
    @Stimpson a federal Europe with the Euro would put off many soft remainers (and anybody who knows about Black Wednesday or saw the Eurozone crisis) and would be the kind of policy that would make me leave the party. I do agree with you however that Corbyn has been incredibly dishonest from 2016 right up to now.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Jan '19 - 1:11pm

    Patrick O’Flynn was on BBC TV Politics Live on 7/1/2018. He is an MEP, elected for UKIP.

  • Arnold Kiel 7th Jan '19 - 1:41pm

    Another referendum will be fun: leave will have to invent a whole new set of lies, breaches of election law and figureheads. If they win again, we all deserve no better. Quite possibly, it will truly resolve the matter.

  • Most people are fed up with the issue and want it resolved one way or another. I suspect another referendum will produce a decisive result one way or the other. The voters psyche will take the undecided the way of the argument that is perceived to be winning, hence a good majority for the victor. We can and should all then respect the result even if it is Leave.
    The postal vote was the decider in the 2016 poll and at the time the postal ballot went out I seem to recall the polls were pointing ominously to a Leave win. On actual polling day it seems Remain had made up ground and won on the day but the heavy Postal votes swung it. If Remain wants to win they would have to do much more in the early part of the campaign.

  • Wright’s article seems unduly negative and pessimistic. The reality is that Leave is now a busted flush, their lies exposed and discredited. As Kiel says, they would have to invent a new lot of fantasies and who would believe them. Yes, previous Leave voters tend to be defensive about their original choice but many lack true conviction in the general climate of disillusionment.

    Stimpson’s advocacy of supporting a federal Europe and joining Schengen is spot on, this would draw the fire of extreme brexiteers and remaining on existing terms would seem attractive by contrast, as the moderate and reasonable option.

  • Nom de Plume 7th Jan '19 - 3:06pm

    The point of the referundum is to get a decision. If parliament fails to pass May’s deal then a referendum is necessary. Otherwise it is exit without a deal in less than three months. Some people don’t seem to get the urgency of the situation.

  • Sean Hyland 7th Jan '19 - 3:40pm

    As a leave voter I have no issue with a second referendum/peoples vote. We live in a democracy and things do change. You need a better Remain campaign though this time and you cant rely on demographic changes alone – seem to to recall UKIP had an active youth wing. I am not sure that offering more EU i.e Federalism will convince those who want less EU to change their votes.

  • Henry Wright 7th Jan '19 - 5:06pm

    Once again thank you all for your comments! With robust and polite debate like this I shall have to write for LDV again sometime…
    @Nigel Jones I concur, I think there is a majority in Parliament (whipping excluded) for an EEA/EFTA Single Market style solution. Indeed, it gets us out of the wasteful CAP and various bits that even Lib Dems have criticised in the past but never got reformed (I think it was Nick Clegg in the Orange Book) hence community cohesion included I think it’s the better option
    @Nom de Plume any referendum would require extension of A50 which requires the EU27 to agree unanimously (and each has their own rightful interests in what they’d get out of such an extension), there isn’t time for a second ref, time would have to be created. This is another difficulty, but I didn’t consider it such an insurmountable one to include in the article
    @Arnold and John, I concur that a second leave campaign would have to change tack. However they would point to the dodgy economic forecasts of Osbourne’s remain campaign to discredit any forecasts and their campaign slogan is practically pre-written. A second Remain campaign needs to get together and agree quickly I think if they are to win. More Europe is not what voters want. Any inclusion of the Euro or Schengen will be a death knell for the campaign.

  • Nom de Plume 7th Jan '19 - 5:31pm

    @ Henry

    The government can withdraw Article50 any time before March 29. An extension would need to be agreed, and as I understand it the EU27 would be prepared to extend Article 50 for the purpose of a referendum. There is time for a second referendum.

  • Nom de Plume 7th Jan '19 - 5:43pm
  • This is a well argued piece and I must say I share many of your concerns regarding a second vote. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Personally I think that instead of throwing everything behind a second vote, we would be better off perusing the most liberal and pragmatic course of action that is still available to us, which is to adopt the EEA/EFTA model. Thus proceeding with Brexit but without letting the lunatics run the show, and also protecting the economy and maintaining a close relationship with our friends and neighbours as Norway, Iceland etc. have done.

  • Michael 1
    Because only leave voters have died? More older people voted. Full stop. This includes old people voting remain. Such overly confident comments also assume that the young will turn out in the same or higher numbers as in 2016 , that they will vote the same way and are based on two years in which the remain camp has kept up an almost relentless campaign using supporting evidence from polls mostly commissioned by news outlets like the Guardian. Yet, they still show barely any shift whatsoever. It also assumes that May’s deal would split only the leave vote. This seems unlikely. In a second ballot remain would be portrayed as not only undemocratic but anti-democratic and would not have anything like the same level of cross party consensus support or funding.
    A growing number of Leave voters also want a new referendum precisely to put No Deal on the ballot paper.

  • Julian Tisi 8th Jan '19 - 9:13am

    I disagree. I believe the party has been right to fight for a referendum on the deal. It’s interesting that this is what we’ve been calling it from early on – this will NOT be a rerun of 2016 with a simple and undefined Remain v Leave. We’ve been consistent – rightly so – in saying that the likelihood was that any deal reached would not necessarily satisfy those who voted for Brexit and, given the huge impact of our choice, the electorate ought to be asked “Is this exactly what you want?”

    To me, the question posed is simple – it should be the deal on offer (May’s deal) versus remaining in the EU, because those are the realistic options on the table. My worry is that No Deal is becoming the mythical golden unicorn that leave was, when the reality of no deal would indeed be catastrophic – not just for our economy but also on sovereignty, as any trade deals we tried to negotiate would come with a cost attached. I dread to think what a deal with the US would involve but it would be a thoroughly one-sided affair which would make May’s deal with the EU look positively generous.

    Once you pit the reality of Brexit against remaining, there is a very clear majority in favour of remaining. But we will need to be far smarter and tougher than we were in the first referendum and reach out to those who voted leave. It will be hard, certainly. It won’t unite everyone, but no plan will.

  • I share the concern that a referendum is risky. The Leave campaign in 2016 was a concoction of vague promises detached from reality and targeted in dubious ways. There’s no reason to think one now would be better connected with reality. But we can’t ask Parliament to ignore that vote. This should mean a referendum where both options on the ballot are workable (hence May’s deal and Remain).

    The thing about the demography is that it looks as if 2019 is the year when Leave-leaning older people dying and Remain-leaning people coming onto the register reverses the result, even if no-one changes their mind (http://www.markargent.com/blog/demography_undermining_2016_referendum/). That’s a trend that will continue.

    My instinct is this needs a pause, and perhaps a government of national unity to hold the pause. Let the legal processes around law-breaking by Leave reach a conclusion, then let the outcomes of that be reflected in the rules for a People’s Vote, and then hold the vote, my guess is that the demographics and anger at Leave’s activities would carry it. If we cause the delay, that also discharges the unjustified anger at the EU for supposed inflexibility.

  • Robert (Somerset) 8th Jan '19 - 10:02am

    Firstly, it would be the third referendum not the second. So for politicians like Liam Fox who like to throw the term around it would, yes, be the best of three!

    I support another referendum on the final deal and if Remain is an option I will be campaigning hard for it. However the main reason for supporting another poll is that I want as many fingerprints as possible on the decision, especially if it’s leave with no deal. If Brexit goes as badly wrong as some people are predicting then a large section of the affected population will be looking for someone to blame and, in my view, it mustn’t be politicians.

  • In the referendum it was repeatedly stated by both sides that leaving the EU would mean leaving the customs union and making a decisive break with the pan European identity/political project. . Now, a hardcore of, Remainers want to load another referendum in their favour by making it about Mays deal, because they rightly suspect that Leave voters, mostly, really did vote for so-called Hard Brexit and because it’s easier to beat an unpopular PM than a profound ideological difference. The reality is that leaving the EU has already been decided by both a referendum and a parliamentary majority, so the question on any new ballot would more properly/logically be limited to the terms of the deal v rejection of the deal.

  • Peter Hirst 8th Jan '19 - 1:06pm

    The principle is that the only way forward is for an outcome referendum and is sound. The devil is in the detail. Remember parliament will have voted down May’s deal. It’s what Labour does and we will be agreeing or otherwise with that. I think an independent commission is needed to decide how best to formulate this further referendum. The important thing is to decide the principle and allow time for a considered decision by the electorate that should be broader than the 2016 one.

  • marcstevens 8th Jan '19 - 3:53pm

    I think the way Anna Soubry was abused and insulted in public for speaking in support of remain by extreme right protesters is an absolute disgrace. I am surprised a post has not gone up on this site yet giving her some support. I note that they are now targeting women MPs and MPs from ethnic minorities as well as journalists. Vince also gets a lot ageist abuse on the daily express website. I really fear the direction this country is going in if these people are not challenged and would urge others on here to stand up to them and complain to the Police . People should be able to speak in public without being harassed and intimidated by a mob driven by hatred and intolerance. They remind me of the football louts who would ruin matches I used to attend.

  • David Becket 8th Jan '19 - 4:16pm

    @ Glenn and other Brexit supporters.
    Let us go back to basics. We are in this mess because May created it. She fired off Article 50 before she had a plan or road map of where she wanted to get to. She put down red lines before talks started and came out with fatuous statements like “Brexit means Brexit”
    To cap it she appointed two Brexit clowns Boris (have our cake and eat it) Johnson and David (easiest negotiations ever) Davies. They were so easy that Davies rarely turned up to negotiate. Two years were then wasted Johnson and Co did not have a plan, but then Brexiteers never had a clue as to where we were likely to go. Those who voted to leave wanted to leave the EU, it is doubtful if many had heard of Customs Unions, but you can certain they did not vote to be poorer.
    Had the clowns got stuck in we would have had a deal months ago. Trade negotiations could have then started. It would not be a good deal, if you want to trade with a group of countries you have to accept their trading terms, though outside the EU we have no say in making those rules.
    We could be out of this mess if May had managed her party and Johnson, Davies, Fox etc got their fingers out.
    If we go back to the people we have to offer May’s deal, but a disastrous no deal must not be the only alternative

  • David Becket’
    None of your missive actually addresses what I wrote. Fact. The referendum already decided the leave/remain question. Fact. Parliament triggered article 50 by a large margin. Thus, the notion that hard-line Remainers should get to decide what is on a potential ballot paper is at the very least highly questionable.
    The customs union was regularly discussed by both camps, so there is no reason to believe that leave voters hadn’t heard of it. As for the rest of it. I would argue that the history of the European era has been littered with high unemployment, deindustrialisation, pressure on housing, the erosion of stable employment and for the at least the last ten years stagnation. So, personally, I suspect the pro EU camp are much more troubled by the prospect of Brexit demonstrating how useless the EU has actually been than the sky falling. . Also as May’s deal keeps in place many of the EU rules, then there is the option of voting for it if that is what you want. But it isn’t because this is about the deep ideology difference between Britain as an independent Nation state v as part of a Pan European Identity/Political project. .

  • Henry Wright, your article clearly sets out some of the problems with another EU referendum. However, I believe that without a referendum we will end up with no deal. I think Theresa May should accept that she can’t get her deal through Parliament and take it to the people to decide. To get a referendum through Parliament I think it has to be an AV referendum with Remain, No deal and May’s deal on the ballot paper. If the polls are correct then Remain will win, if they are wrong I think that May’s deal would win.

    Time is indeed a problem and I think a referendum has to be held before 15th April so if Remain wins we can have European Parliament elections in June.

  • Peter Watson 8th Jan '19 - 7:40pm

    @Michael BG “I think it has to be an AV referendum with Remain, No deal and May’s deal on the ballot paper. If the polls are correct then Remain will win”
    If I recall correctly, the polls suggest that Remain would win on the second round of such a referendum but in the first round Brexit votes would outnumber Remain votes.
    Although electoral-reform-loving Lib Dems might be very comfortable with this system of voting (especially if it delivers a win for Remain!) this outcome seems very likely to fuel the sort of anger that Henry describes with opponents who won’t see it as a decisive result.
    Lib Dems (and the Remain campaign) give the impression that securing another referendum is the end-point, but they need to ensure that there is a clear strategy that goes well beyond that.

  • Nom de Plume 8th Jan '19 - 8:07pm

    @Peter Watson

    Although a Remain win would not be an end-point, it would avoid a dead-end-point. If nothing else, the 2016 referendum has shown how split the country is. This will remain a major problem whatever path is taken.

  • Nom de Plume 8th Jan '19 - 8:16pm

    That was a little glib. There are concerns about identity and immigration, amongst others, which need to be addressed. A bit less of the Blair approach, more concern for the ordinary person. I was not surprised by the referendum result.

  • marcstevens 8th Jan '19 - 9:06pm

    I was because of lot of people who would vote remain didn’t turn out to vote. They were less impassioned to do so and negative slogans demonising immigrants, confusing sovereignty and membership of a successful trading block and lying about extra cash for the NHS won the day. However the young people who didn’t turn out in the Referendum realised what can happen if you don’t participate and then turned out en masse for Corbyn. So my EU neighbour from Poland who works hard and pays tax isn’t an ordinary person too then and it was all too easy to scapegoat the EU when the architect of austerity and poverty is the tory government.

  • Henry Wright 9th Jan '19 - 9:49am

    @Nom De Plume – having read All out War (good book by Tim Shipman that’s well worth a read) I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with identity. Governments from Thatcher through May have broadly ignored (and Labour taken for granted) the communities destroyed by the removal of their primary industry.

    The Leave campaign tapped into a desire for things to go back to where they were. Sadly none of these problems have been addressed in the last two years and this is why I wouldn’t be surprised at another Leave vote, but angrier this time.

  • I continue to be irritated by the narrative that “older” people voted Leave and that because they are dying off, Remain will win next time. Firstly, I am “older” and voted Remain (and would do again) because I am old enough to remember bomb sites and don’t want my children to face the same horrors that my grandparents did. Secondly, why do Remain campaigners think that by repeating tales of doom post-Brexit (which may be true) will be believed this time when they didn’t actually happen “the day after the Referendum” (G. Osborne). If there is another Referendum, can the campaign highlight the positives of staying rather than the negatives of leaving. Given the abject failure of the politicians to sort this out (there is no majority for any scenario as far as I can see in the H of C), then I agree that we, the people, need to make the final decision, in the light of current information

  • Peter Watson 9th Jan '19 - 11:05am

    @Nom de Plume “I was not surprised by the referendum result.”
    @Henry Wright “I wouldn’t be surprised at another Leave vote, but angrier this time”
    I tend to agree.
    I placed my only ever bet (£100 at 3:1) on a Brexit victory in 2016 (despite voting for Remain myself). My disappointment with the Remain campaign continued after the referendum since it did not appear to have learnt or adapted despite the outcome. I am less confident that a 2019 re-run of the 2016 referendum would lead to the same result but it cannot be ruled out. Nothing has been done to address the reasons so many people voted for Brexit (and would still do so again) so an “Exit from Brexit” is unlikely to heal any of the bitter divisions.
    That is why I feel that the Lib Dem strategy has been too short-sighted, appearing to be based upon an assumption that a second referendum means no Brexit. If there is no referendum, what is the Lib Dem position as a “deal or no deal” Brexit proceeds? And if a referendum is secured, that would be just a step on the journey, not a destination, yet there is still vagueness about what such a referendum would look like, let alone how a referendum campaign would be fought this time and what would be the response to any result.

  • Christian de Vartavan 9th Jan '19 - 7:05pm

    Some of you will remember my September article asking for a second referendum and why. This past weeks’ debate including today’s speeches in Parliament have further consolidated my view that a second peoples’ vote is the wisest solution: https://www.libdemvoice.org/why-a-second-referendum-is-now-not-only-right-but-necessary-58460.html

  • Henry Wright 10th Jan '19 - 10:25am

    @Peter Watson – I agree wholeheartedly with what you said there. The issue for the Remain campaign is that the economic arguments no longer hold weight since the economy has continued to grow since the result. The No Deal side are the continuation Leave side because they have no idea what it would look like but their narrative would be “leave wasn’t that bad, this won’t be that bad: your voice will be heard and we can stop talking about it”.

    Remainers and the Lib Dems (if we are to win) now need to find a way to convince enough Leave voters to change their mind. The attitudes of people like Campbell and Adonis turn me off as a soft Eurosceptic Remainer, I can’t imagine what their campaign would do to Leave voters…

  • Henry Wright “The issue for the Remain campaign is that the economic arguments no longer hold weight since the economy has continued to grow since the result”

    You’ve set the bar very low there. The economy has slowed – we were the fastest growing economy in the G7 before the referendum and we became the slowest. The world economy has in the meantime boomed; it’s often said that a rising tide raises all ships and we were lucky in that the disruption and uncertainty Brexit has brought to the UK has happened at a time of strong global growth.

    Plus of course we haven’t left yet – we are still members of the single market and benefit from the frictionless trade that brings us.

  • Richard Underhill 14th Mar '19 - 11:51pm

    On Peston on ITV former Labour leadership candidate David Miliband jumped at the possibility of coming back to the UK to help in another referendum, but he wants to keep his current job, working for a major charity, based in the USA, so his return to the UK would not be permanent.

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