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Friday, January 12, 2018

Is another referendum now more likely?

The sudden conversion of Nigel Farage to the idea of a second referendum on whether we should leave the European Union or not, backed by the co-founder of the Leave campaign, Arron Banks, has certainly animated many Remainers. Even Sir Nick Clegg tweeted, 'I agree with Nigel'.

Nigel Farage's rationalisation for his U-turn is that another Brexit vote would lead to a more decisive victory for the leave campaign and silence remain supporters for a generation. My view is that the result of a second plebiscite would be close, could go either way and could still leave the issue unresolved. Timing is also crucial.

As the Guardian says, the natural time for a second EU referendum would be a poll on whether to accept any deal that May negotiates with Brussels before the date of Brexit in March 2019, or whether the UK should leave without an agreement if she fails to secure one. They suggest that if parliament were to vote against May’s deal with the EU, it could provoke another referendum on the issue or a general election in which Brexit was the central issue.

Personally, I would prefer a referendum because General Elections are rarely decided on single issues and do not as a rule provide clear mandates for constitutional change.

The most interesting part of this little bit of mischief making by Farage is the impact it will have on the Labour Party. The Guardian believes that growing support for another referendum could fuel divisions within Labour. The party leadership currently maintains that there is no need for another popular vote. That is a contrast to some of its pro-EU backbenchers.

Farage has opened the door for a U-turn by Jeremy Corbyn. It is time he showed some leadership, acknowledged his role as an opposition party instead of propping up the Tories and came out for a confirmatory referendum that might give us the opportunity to stay in the EU.
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