Brexit & Future of British Democracy

Adoption of a second referendum or "People's Vote" would likely shake future confidence in British democracy. Can we have democracy only when we like its outcomes?

London, UK. September 21, 2018. 12:45 pm. Hardly any issue divides Brits today as does Brexit. In the face of EU pushbacks and domestic political infighting, should we keep calm and carry on with Brexit or hold a second vote? 

Many supporters of a second vote are calling it a People's Vote. This raises the question: what was the original vote, if not a people's vote? 

Mal Fletcher, social commentator, broadcaster and chairman of the London-based 2020Plus innovation think tank, argues that voters in the referendum were very clear about their intentions.

"In 2016, the voters, on both sides, knew that they were taking part in much more than an opinion poll," Fletcher argues. "Most voted in good faith, believing that the result, whichever way it went, would be respected."

"As someone who lived in northern Europe for a decade and voted Remain, I see clear dangers to our confidence in democracy should we move toward a second referendum. We can't have a democracy only when we like its outcomes."

In a Video Op-Ed released today at, Mal Fletcher argues that though some future generation may wish to re-engage fully with the EU, we can't definitively predict such an event at this time.

"What's more," he adds, "we don’t know how the EU will deal with its own problems - the political challenges it faces, in Sweden or Italy, for example, or the ongoing economic problems in some of its southern countries."

"These may fundamentally change how today's Remain voters see the EU and its future goals."

Mal Fletcher, who lectures and advises top-level civic leaders in various nations, argues that shifts in the public mood do not on their own warrant fresh elections or referendums, once a majority has spoken.  

"If a new Brexit vote is held this year, what happens if the public mood then shifts again, especially when it becomes clear that some EU figures will thenceforth view Britain with suspicion?"

"When exactly is a decision - on any issue - considered to be the final decision?"

"For all we know, Britain, after a period of adjustment & some short-term economic challenge, may go on to do much better outside the EU. I believe in this country's capacity for innovation and alliance-building."

In all of this, Fletcher suggests, one thing is certain: Britain won't get anywhere riding on the back of rank pessimism. 

"Hope is not a strategy, but neither is despair. At least hope puts us in the frame of mind to develop a strategy."

2030PlusTV is a regular Opinion Editorial produced by 2020Plus, London.


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