Let’s debate a second EU referendum
WE live in an intellectually changed world – a world where accepted wisdoms, once seen as sacrosanct, are there to be overturned. Too often, though, these wisdoms are replaced with folly. For an example, look west to the American electorate’s decision to challenge the concept of Washington elites by voting into power a billionaire playboy with his own golden tower, jumbo jet, and TV show.
In some places, however, the challenge to accepted wisdoms is an enlightened one. For an example of this, look to the discussion going on around the world, conducted by the young and the clever, about constructing an alternative to rapacious neoliberal capitalism, an ideology now so intellectually and morally bankrupt that it is no longer fit for purpose. The Sunday Herald would like to propose another accepted wisdom which needs challenged: that there can be no second referendum on our place in Europe; no second referendum on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations that would give the UK electorate the chance to step back from the cliff’s edge. Anyone who dares suggest such an idea is shouted down by hysterical Brexiters as if they were championing the very destruction of democracy itself. But is the idea really so outlandish? The Leave campaign was, after all, substantially constructed from untruths – not half-truths or white lies, but plain old-fashioned, wicked, black lies. Do we really need reminded about claims of £350 million being returned to the NHS plastered over the side of a bus; or those disgraceful Ukip “Breaking Point” posters showing lines of refugees and designed to inflame hatred?
One could argue that on this basis alone, the electorate deserves to have a second chance at voting on the most important decision to face these islands in decades – only this time, armed with the truth, not befuddled by wealthy mountebanks, charlatans and racists. The Labour Party may have found its socialist soul of late, but its Janus-faced position on Brexit – saying one thing to anti-EU working-class voters and another to pro-European metropolitan voters – shames Corbyn and takes the entire electorate for fools. The Tories are in a torture chamber of their own construction when it comes to Brexit and seem fit to do only one thing: drag the country into an abyss.
If both the Government and official opposition at Westminster are incapable of offering any sensible and truthful leadership over Brexit, then how can it be considered a form of democratic heresy to suggest that perhaps the people need to have their voice heard again once the negotiations are done and we can see the true path to ruin that stretches out before us paved by Brexiter lies.
Accepted wisdoms are all very well. But where is the wisdom of driving the country towards economic catastrophe? Surely the wisest people are those prepared to tell the emperor that he is naked – and so it’s time to at least discuss the prospect of giving the UK electorate a second chance to have their say.