This weekend I got into a referendum debate with a twist. Sat in a Swiss wine bar the case was made for and against subsidising farmers who don’t dehorn their livestock, which was one of the issues voted upon in the latest referendum in the country. This year alone the Swiss have participated in ten national referendums covering all manor of things, and if a common consensus emerges down the line that they got it wrong then they vote again. It seems that they, unlike us, consider voting to be a democratic process.
With just months left until Britain officially breaks from the European Union parliament is in a state of disarray. It is in a state of disarray because the deal that Theresa May returned with doesn’t match up with what was promised in the referendum campaign.
Ardent Brexiteers have hit back at the deal despite it ending free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK and despite it removing Britain from the Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy. A poll published in the Daily Express yesterday found just 26 per cent support the deal, which is miraculous given how eager many of its readers were to leave the union.
Those on the Remain side are more incensed than ever. With jobs on the firing line, sterling flat-lining and the economy at risk of taking a nosedive the vote to leave the European Union has delivered everything they warned it would. And we’re still to officially leave.
But amidst the doom and gloom of this fiasco good news did emerge from Brussels yesterday. A top official at the European Union’s highest court advised yesterday that Britain can unilaterally change its mind about leaving the EU. The advocate general said Article 50 “allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU”, which means the 2016 decision to leave can still be overturned.
With UK consensus shifting a second vote could well be the most democratic move Britain makes in a generation. A recent survey of 20,000 Brits revealed that if a referendum was held today the result would return a 54-46 win in favour of staying in the EU, results Krishnan Guru-Murthy said confirm that Britain has “changed its mind”.
It is clearly time for UK politicians to take the bull by the horns.