Another referendum would be no walkover for Remain

As the Brexit psychodrama continues to engulf parliament, calls for another referendum grow louder in certain circles.

So, hypothetically if a referendum on the terms of the deal was granted to the people and they had a chance to reject the deal and stay in the European Union, would they do so? Although, many in the Remain camp are adamant they would win this vote, I am far from convinced.

Firstly, the polls have not really moved since the referendum. The latest YouGov poll suggests in hindsight 46% of voters believe it was wrong to leave the European Union against 43% who believe it was the right decision. This is a small lead for voters believing it was the wrong decision but is within the margin of error.

Furthermore, this is accompanied by polling which suggests 66% of people believe the Government is handling Brexit badly. Despite a majority of people thinking Brexit is being handled badly there is no clear majority for voters thinking it was the wrong decision. This would worry me if I was a Remain campaigner.

Secondly, another referendum could be seen as patronising. No matter how the Remain side would attempt to frame the debate (A People’s Vote, A First Referendum on the Deal etc) it would be portrayed as a second referendum. To many voters this would be insulting. Politicians arguing the people did not know what they were voting for and need another referendum to make the right decision is not a good look. This does not appear a good base to win over voters and could even put off previous Remain voters.

Thirdly, there would be no establishment support on this occasion. In the last referendum, the Remain side had the support of the Prime Minister and were able to mobilise some of the mechanics of the Government. This time, there would be no Treasury leaflets and no campaigning from the Prime Minister. There is then the right-wing media who passionate last time would arguably be vitriolic this time over a perceived betrayal. These are further obstacles a Remain campaign would need to overcome.

Therefore, I think a strong case can be made that a referendum on the terms of the deal could end in the same result or even a bigger victory for Leave.

Do not believe this is the walkover that some think it would be.

Article by Mike Hough


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