We need a second referendum—and only he can deliver oneby Richard Dawkins / June 28, 2016 / Leave a comment
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It is impossible to doubt that, if the referendum were to be held again today, the knife-edge “Leave” majority would be reversed and “Remain” would win handsomely. Brexiteers in their thousands would reverse their choice, appalled by the unimagined magnitude of the economic catastrophe brought down upon us by Cameron’s folly—recklessly playing Russian Roulette with the country’s long-term future in the interests (as he himself admitted) of short term political appeasement within his own party.
It is said that to call a second referendum would be undemocratic. I argued in these pages that to call a referendum in the first place violated the principles of representative democracy. We are a parliamentary democracy, not a mob-rule plebiscite democracy (yob-rule, one might say, in the light of Nigel Farage’s oafish grin). No Prime Minister would invoke “democracy” in calling a referendum to bring back hanging and flogging. So why hand over a much more momentous and complex decision to a populace whose level of sophistication may be judged from the number who googled “What is the EU?” the day after voting to leave it?
But even if the first referendum was undemocratic, there is a sense in which only a second referendum could convincingly undo the damage. Those who say, like the terminally discredited Cameron, “The people have spoken and it is now our duty to steady the ship and make Brexit work” also have a duty to convince themselves that “the people” really have spoken. If Brexit really is the will of the people, a second referendum will confirm it. And if it is not their will, how can it then be parliament’s duty to go against the thought-out convictions of the great majority of MPs and “make it work”?
If, as I hope and expect, opinion polls are now being taken, they will show massive remorse among “Leave” voters. The plummeting pound, the word from all sides that Britain (no, England) is the laughing-stock of the world, the looming spectre of the break-up of the UK (who can blame…