There are those who say a second EU referendum would destroy faith in democracy. Their argument seems disingenuous. I can understand people taking this line if it is in their interest to. But for every person who sees a second referendum as an affront to democracy there could well be at least one other who sees it as an assertion of democracy.
The 2016 referendum was advisory but it was taken as binding. For my money that was an affront to democracy if anything was. But it could be ameliorated by a second, confirmatory, referendum. If a Leave vote is confirmed, so be it.
If people who in June 2016 voted to leave the EU still think it is the right thing to do then they should be confident of convincing a sufficient majority of voters that it is still the right thing to do – over 2 years after a close result in an advisory referendum which pitted a 100% clear Remain option against a necessarily indeterminate Leave option. The decision would be confirmed, we would leave the EU, and that would be an end to it.
But I’ve not heard anyone on the Leave side so much as countenance the idea of a second confirmatory referendum. It is therefore hard not to draw the conclusion that the reason is because they fear the result would be a decision to Remain. But if that did happen, it would mean that if we had left without the chance of a second referendum, we would be going against what the majority wanted. Which would surely be another huge affront to democracy? If however the result of a second referendum was a decision to Leave, then that would prove that the decision to Leave was in line with what the majority now want.
It seems to me therefore that Leave supporters eager to display their democratic credentials should actually campaign strongly for a second referendum. Because either they would get proof that the now practically worked out Leave option agreed with the EU (and which may be about to be implemented) has majority support at the time of implementation; or they are stopped from mistakenly enacting what a majority of voters believe is a very bad thing for the country and for themselves. In terms of democracy (rather in terms of the desires and aspirations of individual voters regardless of their Leave or Remain preferences) that would seem a win-win.
© Chris Lawrence 2019.