Date
15 December 2018
Anti-Brexit demonstrators protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Nov. 19. Photo: Reuters
Anti-Brexit demonstrators protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Nov. 19. Photo: Reuters

Brexit: What are the chances of a second referendum?

The UK government has portrayed the long-negotiated deal as a document that captures the essence of people’s vote of 2016. EU officials have asserted the document is final and set to define how Britain is going to leave.

For better or worse, not everyone is convinced this solution is the one we were looking for. People have already taken it to the streets. The deal has slim chances of getting through the Commons. Neither the EU nor the UK seems to have a plan B. Starting from scratch is hardly an option.

So, is it possible we are going to witness the Second Referendum?

Tremors on a political scene

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has secured the backing of the cabinet, but the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned over it. In fact, May is losing support from her party. Prominent Tories and former cabinet ministers have criticized her over accepting the transitional period, the backstop (Irish border issue), and other concessions aimed at keeping the close ties to EU.

To make it worse for PM, the parliament is poised to reject the plan. The best shot to ratify it is to take the battle back to the European courtyard and tweak what was agreed on. Still, axing the notorious backstop and customs union is not an overly realistic outcome. It would appear then that a fresh referendum may not be such a bad option for the government.

However, Theresa May ruled it out in a recent statement. Where does that leave us?

Well, all the options are on the table, including a vote of no confidence, a true political super-weapon. PM’s opponents have not managed to muster the support for it so far, but for many, escalating the political conflict in that fashion more than desirable. Even if it means all hell breaking loose.

Spirit of the referendum possesses people

A Brexit research from PlayOJO casino shows, two-thirds of voters feel they have been cut out of the Brexit process. This is more than worrisome, considering the burning topic has been dominating the public sphere.

And yet people are still looking for answers. When they cannot get them from the officials, they seek it in places like Google. Among other things, this may suggest they are willing to take things more seriously now. Indeed, one poll revealed that 43 percent Brits would back a second referendum, which would allow them to choose between staying in EU and Withdrawal Agreement.

Elsewhere, we also notice signs of a mounting new momentum for second referendum. Nothing proves this notion better than Independent’s Final Say petition. It struck a chord with voters far and wide, rallying more than million of them in just three months. Therefore, this initiative is already a much better reflection of the current will of the people than the negotiated deal.

But, the key question is what has changed in since 2016? Well, many of those who voted on the first referendum may not have acted rationally. Besides, they were presented with a vague choice back then: to remain or to exit. Now, the stakes, risks, and possible consequences are more tangible.

Hence, faced with a fleshed out set of choices, they may vote differently.

After months of turbulence and tedious negotiations, the British government has come up with a deal. How delighted everyone is we can see through a swirl of cabinet resignation and mass protests. The chances of holding another referendum are still not great, but they are getting bigger by the day.

Ultimately, it might not be a bad idea to give them the final say on May’s Brexit deal. This time around, they could make an informed choice and possibly overturn the 2016 decision. For the time being, politicians could at least keep our options open.

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RC

EJ Insight contributor

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