Another vote is simply a democratic necessity, whichever side you are onby AC Grayling / September 21, 2018 / Leave a comment
Even if I were a Leaver I would support a second referendum for the following reasons. The 2016 referendum on EU membership has left the country in a deeply unsettled state, with divisions as bitter as those that accompanied the Suez crisis of 1956, and uncertainties as bleak as the days following an outbreak of war. And it has done so because the referendum was inconclusive and flawed, and did not deliver a clear and genuine democratic mandate.
The facts, for so they are, which explain why the referendum was inconclusive and flawed, are these. Recall that the referendum was advisory. No referendum in our constitution can be otherwise, because of the doctrine of the sovereignty of parliament; but MPs were expressly reminded of this in advance of their debate on the referendum Bill, in a House of Commons Library Briefing Paper (number 07212, 3rd June 2015), and confirmed on the floor of the House of Commons by the Minister for Europe, David Lidington (Hansard 16th June 2015).
Parliament has never specifically debated the outcome of the referendum, nor specifically voted on whether or not to accept the advice of the advisory vote. Instead it has chosen, without discussion, to treat the outcome as politically mandating although constitutionally advisory only. Given that parliament and the government it supports exist constitutionally (see the UK parliament website and MPs’ code) to protect and foster the interests of the country and its people, and given that the most optimistic projections of the effect of the best possible Brexit indicates that damage will accrue to the economy and livelihoods, this privileging of the political over the constitutional raises profound questions.
The electorate enfranchised for the referendum excluded, after debate on the matter, 16 and 17 year olds (in the Scottish independence referendum of 2014 this demographic was included because the vote crucially affected their future), citizens of other EU countries living, working and paying their taxes in the UK, and British expats of 15 or more years’ residence abroad. Of this electorate, 37 per cent voted in favour of leaving the EU. On the day of the vote this proportion was represented by 51.9 per cent of votes cast.
The 37 per cent figure requires context: by statute a trades union needs a vote of 40 per…