Brexit

Stick or twist? The case for leave and remain in a second referendum

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Calls for a second EU referendum have grown louder over the past year, following the mishandling of Brexit and the threat of no-deal.

Brexit is an issue which has not only divided the nation, but caused two prime ministerial resignations and arguably strengthened the case for another Scottish referendum in the near future.

Whichever side of the referendum debate you’re on, I think most of us would agree that it’s caused mayhem and will need to be sorted out as soon as possible whether we leave the EU or not.

With that in mind, I will take you through the reasons why people could vote differently in a possible second referendum.

The case for remain

The threat of no deal remains ever present. Whilst hard Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage have been optimistic about this outcome, parties like the SNP and Labour have been vocal in their opposition to no deal.

In the case of a second referendum, many people would surely be tempted to vote remain based off of the potential dangers of no deal, especially if given the option of remain vs a no-deal Brexi.

The future of the United Kingdom could be at stake here, with numerous problems surrounding the Irish border as well as Scotland’s opposition to Brexit in the 2016 referendum. A no-deal Brexit could cause severe complications at the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The Good Friday Agreement has allowed peace to be kept over the past couple of decades; failure to find a solution to the border problem could threaten this relative harmony.

The argument by the SNP for having another independence referendum will also be louder than ever, with Scotland voting overwhelmingly to stay within the EU in 2016. Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford have used this as a weapon to strike through the government. People may decide to vote remain for the sake of keeping the union together, at a time when solidarity is needed the most.

The power of social media can’t be underestimated. Twitter has become a popular platform for expressions of opposition to Brexit. Loads of people have been using #FBPE (‘Follow Back Pro EU’) to create a movement hoping to stop the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

People’s Vote UK was also made possible by the power of social media, a campaign responsible for high-profile protests. Social media could be the deciding factor in this referendum. A lot of younger people, a significant social media presence, seem like they do not want the result of 2016 to be implemented.

The case for leave

Some voters will be saying: “we voted to leave three years ago, why are we being asked to vote again?”. This was advertised as a once in a lifetime vote, something that wouldn’t be voted on again for decades. On this basis, people would vote leave again despite what we now know about leaving the EU and the challenges it would bring to the United Kingdom.

What’s the point of a ‘once in a lifetime’ referendum if you’re not going to implement the result? If remain did win a second referendum, Brexiteers on the other side of the debate could demand a ‘best of three’ referendum format which could see yet another public vote.

Even some previously remain voters in the last referendum may vote leave out of principle that we, as a country, voted to leave the EU in 2016. This is something that another possible future Vote Leave campaign could use to their advantage.

It’s been argued that the decision taken by the people of the UK to leave the EU was a vote against the establishment, rather than simply against the European Union. Former Prime Minister Theresa May accused parliament of frustrating Brexit after MPs voted against her withdrawal agreement three times. This vote could be seen as an opportunity to vote against parliament once again, in frustration with the political class delaying the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

We are now so deep in to negotiations to leave the European Union and are spending money preparing for it. Can we really revoke article 50 now after the previous government’s persistent efforts to get a Brexit deal through parliament? Having observed all this, will the electorate be prepared to swallow their pride and vote remain after years of Brexit-induced struggle?

A lot of people see leaving the EU as a real opportunity to take back control, a tagline of the Leave campaign. There’s a real appetite for controlling our own borders and laws, as well as creating a political environment in which all people in power are subject to elections. 

If we’re in the European Union, British citizens do not have a say over who occupies positions of power in the European Parliament. We elect the MEPs, but we don’t elect who we want to see in positions of high power. The election of the President of the European Commission is just one example of this.

It’ll be interesting to see which way people vote if there is a second referendum. There could be one just around the corner if a general election is triggered and Labour get in to power.

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