Is A 'People's Vote' The Answer To The Brexit Mess?
Updated: Jan 4, 2019
Another day goes by and with another day, we come closer to the idea of a second referendum. Some politicians (i.e. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell) have described it as 'imminent' whilst others have said it's just another option on the table. So, that begs the question, is a 'People's Vote' really the answer to the Brexit conundrum?
Having been inundated with the whole brouhaha surrounding the idea of a second referendum, it seems the general consensus is that May's deal will be voted down in the Commons. Therefore, if the deal is rejected, we're back to where we were before with no deal and practically no hope for our economic future. As discussed previously, the EU needs Britain as much as we need them as a considerable portion of their exports comes here and some of our own exports go to the EU themselves. There's been a push for the Labour Party to try and secure a General Election so they themselves can try and negotiate a better deal. However, with a General Election, there comes an inconsistency in the deal-making process with a new leader being shuffled in who may change things around completely and as a result, the country may become worse off. If Labour fail to secure that election, it looks like that the second referendum could be one of the only other options on the table. However, the support for a second referendum isn’t actually that much – whilst some Labour MPs have backed the idea of a ‘People’s Vote’, some have refused or would refuse to back it. To get the idea through, they would also need support from rebel Conservatives to fully embrace the principle.
If a ‘People’s Vote’ did go through, any Brexit-related proceedings would have to be suspended and the folks in Brussels may be happy to accommodate the second vote if it proves to be the only option. Experts have estimated that the whole process would take twenty-four weeks overall, which could be another half a year added onto the process. If the vote itself wants us to continue on with this current process then that surely makes the referendum pointless, right? However, it remains a mystery as to what the options on the ballot paper might be.
There is a myriad of options available to be perfectly honest. Would it be Remain against No Deal, No Deal vs. May’s Deal, Remain vs May’s Deal, or all three against each other to give a more rounded view? Those that are campaigning for a ‘People’s Vote’ say that those options should be the only ones on the ballot and so any deal that does not have any backing in Brussels should immediately be dismissed. The question would ultimately be decided by Parliament themselves, although those in the Electoral Commission have a role to play by law in terms of giving advice and testing the potential question.
There’s also the conundrum of allowing those younger than eighteen to vote. Advocates of a second referendum are also rather keen to allow sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote, although some are entirely against it and would rather see standard voting practices kept to. However, the same voters may deliver a different result. Since the initial referendum back in June 2016, there will have been a large swell of youth turning eighteen who are more likely to be pro-EU, whilst some of the probably Eurosceptic older generation will have passed away. However, whilst there does appear to be more of a push for the Remain camp since the referendum, there are doubts to some over how much people have changed their minds and therefore, there is no guarantee that Remain would win this referendum – it is undoubtedly clear that the result would be close if the vote were to go ahead.
Overall, the second referendum option seems likely to some with the misleading actions of the Leave campaign back in 2016 causing increased calls for this, as well as with all of what we know now regarding Brexit. Personally, I don’t feel it is the answer as it is banking on a Remain victory and if that doesn’t happen and the people vote for May’s deal then what was the real point in having the referendum in the first place? It really is a double-edged sword.