Should we have a second EU referendum? – live
There has been talk of Brexit voters regretting their decision:
Does this mean that there should be a second referendum? If there was a consensus that people wanted to change their mind would it make you more likely to call for one?
I am really keen for leave voters views on this:
Looking forward to opening comments in 10 minutes.
Updated at 11.55am BST
We have some responses from our form already. A number make reference to Nigel Farage’s pre-Brexit claims that a second EU vote would be needed if Remain won the referendum by a narrow margin.
“Nigel Farage clearly stated beforehand that a 52/48 split would not end the matter. The idea that it now should just because Leave won, then denied everything they promised, is ridiculous,” says Charles, a reader from Bristol.
Updated at 11.37am BST
A roundup of tweets on this topic:
We also got a statement from health secretary Jeremy Hunt ahead of the debate today. He said:
On Friday the country took the hugely significant decision to leave the European Union – and now that the people have spoken, parliament needs to listen. Britain must and will leave the EU – but my focus now is how we determine our best national future. I believe that we must preserve our status as the world’s greatest trading nation by remaining in the single market; that brings jobs and prosperity but also underpins our status as an open, liberal society. By negotiating with EU leaders before we invoke Article 50, we can get a deal which addresses concerns on immigration and freedom of movement rules, one which we can then ask the British people for their democratic endorsement of.”
Say no to a second referendum
A comment from professor Stephen Tierney, Edinburgh University, author of Constitutional Referendums
There should not be a second referendum. The process was lawful, democratic, well-run and fully in line with the highest international standards for direct democracy. The result is one which citizens must agree to, even if it is not one they agree with.
Referendums should be reserved for issues of the highest importance and should be infrequent. This helps stimulate the engagement of citizens and provide a careful balance between the norm of representative government and the exception of direct democracy. People knew they were making a land-mark decision on 23 June.
There is also the danger of instability. If remain won the second referendum they would have to concede that a euro-sceptical government would subsequently be entitled to hold further referendums at regular intervals. The European Union would no doubt, and correctly, have no truck with such an unsettling scenario. Similarly, who could then deny the entitlement of the Scottish government to hold a referendum on independence whenever it wished (once a year perhaps)?
It would be a constitutional nightmare as well as a democratic travesty for the referendum result not to be faithfully implemented simply because many of us don’t like it.
Itching to join in with the debate, but lacking in a Guardian commenting account? You have two options: one, sign up for one here. Two: fill out this form. We’ll be sharing a selection of your responses above the line, so keep it punchy.
Message from David Lammy MP today
David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has this to say about our debate topic:
I will continue to make the case for a second vote because there is no exit plan. It’s not too late to stop this and I’ve made my position clear on behalf of my constituents and on behalf of the young people of this country.
Before Article 50 is invoked the leave campaign will have to come up with a plan and then that plan will have to be voted on either in Parliament or through a second referendum.
There is no way under any circumstances that I will be voting for Brexit when Article 50 comes before Parliament.
Of course we cannot!
Of course we can’t have a second referendum. Much of the carping that has followed the Brexit camp’s narrow victory last week has focused on that small differential between leave and remain. But a call for a new threshold – say two-thirds, a majority of registered voters, or a consensus among the nations – is too little too late. If people wanted that they should have campaigned for it while David Cameron was drawing up his referendum plans. They didn’t – largely because of the arrogance among EU supporters that they would win any subsequent vote. You can be sure that had Cameron thought there was a realistic chance of defeat he would have put some mechanism in there to ensure he couldn’t lose. After all, it’s hard to argue that this is not a monumental constitutional change, and it’s entirely appropriate such a change should need more than just a simple majority. But he did not. And people were not up in arms about it at the time. Now – were the sore losers to simply call a second referendum, there would quite rightly be uproar among those voters who opted to depart the Union, especially those that already feel part of the left behind.
So EU supporters, what’s it to be? Leave Europe and come up with the best compromise we can to protect our rights, our economy and our relationship with our neighbours– or win a contentious rerun, stay in the EU, but alienate half the country? Neither is ideal, but one seems far more likely to cause a wave of civil unrest than the other.
Interesting comments from The Guardian’s diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour today on whether a second referendum is possible:
Scenarios for a second referendum
There is also pressure to hold a second referendum. Few UK politicians – fearful of challenging the verdict of an already angry electorate – will articulate such an argument in public. But Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has boldly made the case for a second referendum or another general election on the negotiated terms of exit. Robin Butler, the former head of the civil service, has suggested the same.
Hammond, the foreign secretary, has said the new prime minister will need to think about the democratic legitimacy of the terms of Brexit. At one point even Johnson, and Dominic Cummings, the director of the Vote Leave campaign, made the case for a second referendum on the terms of a Brexit.
Despite the Fixed-Term Parliament Act requiring a parliament to last five years, it is possible for an early election to be called if enough politicians support this.
For the sake of simplicity, three scenarios could then follow. In the first, Johnson wins the election, negotiates the terms of the UK’s departure, puts them to a referendum and they are endorsed. Some form of access to the single market and some deal on free movement – the two central issues – are agreed. It is a bespoke British deal. Britain remains outside the EU but only just.
What might trigger a second referendum?
Dr Peter Paul Catterall, a constitutional expert from the University of Westminster, has written this comment for our debate:
Lots of people on the leave side are now complaining that remainers are sore losers, as if this was some kind of football match. It is, of course, much more momentous than that, hence the petition calling for a second referendum. Parliamentarians are, however, generally taking the view that they are politically (though not constitutionally) bound to respect the verdict of 23 June. In what circumstances might this view change?
The petition, while it sends out a signal of concern, is unlikely to get anywhere near the numbers that might suggest a second vote is needed. Parliamentarians have to take note of it, but not to respond.
Parliament does, however, have the deal with the fact there is no mandate for how to implement Brexit. The leave side was very careful to avoid discussing this in anything but the vaguest terms. Calling for a second referendum as and when these terms become clearer is entirely reasonable.
Before that stage is reached, however, there may already be a need for a general election, not least to give the incoming government a mandate for the terms on which Brexit might be negotiated. What happens if it then fails to achieve a majority? A change of government could possibly trigger a second referendum, particularly if the general election verdict suggested that the public mood had shifted. This is a possibility. However, with the Labour party in disarray, there is the real risk that a general election might see a shift towards the hard right instead, which would reinforce the referendum verdict.
Finding a way to trigger a second referendum is not impossible, because these are all matters of politics, rather than constitutional rules. However, none of the scenarios sketched out above is either likely to happen or easy to achieve. That does not mean people should not try. There is also certainly a need for close scrutiny of howsoever those people leading the next government, who secured a leave vote through misrepresentation and fear, propose to take us out of the EU and what, if anything, they intend to put in its place.
Welcome to the debate
Should we have a second referendum? It’s a question that’s been floating around (ironically) ever since we voted out. But is it really possible? And if so, is it fair?
In terms of the law, it is possible to hold a second referendum and the decision of this one is not legally binding, which means it could be overturned in parliament by MPs.
But what about the moral argument for another referendum? Some argue that the EU referendum was won on lies and people need to vote again as the reality of leaving the EU – and it’s repercussions for the economy and our union with Scotland – sink in. More than four million people have now added their names to a petition calling for a rerun of out vote on the EU.
Jeremy Hunt – perhaps not the voice of reason remainers were hoping for – agrees. He came out yesterday saying that people should have their say on the terms of the UK’s exit deal – especially given that leave campaigners claimed that the UK could get access to the single market without having to accept free movement, something EU leaders say is unlikely. Hunt argues that this should be either through a general election or a second referendum.
However, David Cameron has already ruled out a second referendum, saying in parliament: “There can be no doubt about the result – I am clear and cabinet agreed this morning that the decision must be accepted and the process of implementing it in the best way must begin … we have a fundamental responsibility to bring country together.”
Others argue that democracy has spoken and another referendum would cause more chasms and rifts. After all, half of the people in the UK have made a decision to leave.
Author Mark Lynas, writing for his blog, said: “[A second referendum] isn’t democracy – it’s explicitly anti-democratic in aiming to overturn the popular vote on the basis of people turning up physically in London for a rally. That way leads to mob rule. (I’d be in favour of a rally, by the way, but on different principles outlined below.)
“The people have spoken, and the verdict was leave. Yes, they were lied to about the NHS and immigration. But the people are sovereign and their vote must stand. We are leaving the EU. Now we need to focus on what comes next.”
Zoe Williams said today on The Guardian: “A second referendum would be a bad idea for exactly the same reason the first one was: let’s say the regrexiteers were numerous enough to be decisive, and the decision was reversed by the same margin, give or take. Those 48% of people would be exactly as angry as we are now, and have no recourse to anything unless we carry on this torture forever.”
What do you think? Share your views with us today from 12pm-2pm and we will update the live blog this morning with various views on this topic. Look forward to debating.
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