Let us consider two views of the referendum outcome on 23rd June ;
- the people have decided to leave the European Union regardless of the terms agreed
- the people have decided only that they wish to leave, but have expressed no view on the terms of Brexit and therefore need a second referendum to permit this.
Those most avidly in favour of Brexit fear that a second referendum could yet undermine their triumph of June 23rd; from this perspective, a second referendum is nothing more than a devious manoeuvre by the establishment and the “remoaners” to subvert democracy and the will of the people.
Yet a second referendum could be organised in such a way as to meet the objections of all but the most partisan supporters on whichever side of the argument were to be favoured. And let me be clear: this proposal would include the option to remain within the European Union.
Before explaining let me first declare my own prejudices on the matter; I voted to remain; however, I have respect for many of those who voted for Brexit and and I am certainly not without hope for a prosperous future for the UK, outside Europe, whether the Brexit be a hard one or a soft one. So let me explain how a multiple choice referendum might work.
The Referendum Ballot paper would include at least three options
- Leave the EU on the terms negotiated by the Government
- Leave the EU without any deal
- Remain within the EU
Citizens of the UK would be invited to number the options in order of preference.
Actually, such a ballot paper might permit the Government to negotiate a number of options for Brexit, all of which could appear on the Ballot paper. The British people, we are often told, are both intelligent and know what they want; in that case, a little additional complexity should not be a problem. Those unwilling or unable to contemplate any second choice, should be permitted to mark the paper with an X in the traditional manner.
Should any one of these options receive a clear majority of first preferences [plus Xs] the outcome would then be decided.
If none of the options were to gain a majority of first preferences, then the option with least support would be discarded and second preferences redistributed to produce a final outcome. [Obviously, if there are more options on the ballot paper, then consideration of third preferences might become necessary.]
The outcome would be clearly democratic, and only the unhinged on either side of the argument would be liable to object to this process.
Such a process can only be adopted if there is a clear desire for it, so if you think the idea has merit, why not pass it on? Let’s go viral.