CLASH OF COMMENTS: Should there be a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU?

YES – Chloe Kent

Theresa May has maintained that there will, unquestionably, be no second referendum on the UK’s EU membership, that the result of the vote is final and binding. While a recently leaked audio tape of a speech she gave to a group of bankers seems to reveal a myriad of serious concerns she had about Britain leaving the EU, a recording from a pre-Brexit world, it seems she is now prepared to launch full speed ahead into a swift departure from the 500-million trading bloc.

It is perfectly reasonable to call for a second referendum. The Leave campaign has, unquestionably, sold its argument on the basis of shadows, unstable half-truths, and a good number of outright lies. Immigration is not going to fall, the economy is now the weakest it has been since the introduction of the pound, and the laser-cutting of a promise of £350m more for the NHS onto the side of a bus was apparently some huge accident. Must’ve been an intern.

The Leave campaign won because it offered a mirage, a lake in the midst of a desert which disappeared as soon as the electorate fell to their knees to take a drink. The UK will not be leaving the EU but remaining part of the single market – it’s like ending a relationship and expecting your ex to still spend the same amount of time with you and do all of the same things. It’s highly unlikely to be a successful, stress-free arrangement in the long term. Equally, the idea that Britain will get access to the EU market but say no to free movement of labour is a ridiculous and borderline insulting notion, and the chance of member-states not vetoing is absolutely zero. We want you to help us, but we’re not going to help you, says Britain to the EU. The states of the union raise their collective middle fingers.

No one knows what Brexit Britain is supposed to look like. It was sold on ideology over policy. Much like our pal across the pond Donald Trump, the Leave campaign said a lot of words, conveying much meaning. Sure, if we reran every vote each time a politician couldn’t follow through on their claims, we’d never step out of the poll booth. But this is a rather extreme situation, mitigating circumstances if you will.

When the government finally produces a document which actually details the specifics of our departure from the EU, rather than various campaigners extending the breadcrumb trail of empty promises which has left us in this mess, there should be another referendum. One where people actually know what it is they’re voting for. A 50+ per cent majority, moreover, is not strong enough for a constitutional change as major as this – the bar must be set higher, the stakes made clearer, and the people of this country given another go at this being told the truth thing.

NO – Has’san Suhail

Speaking from the perspective of someone whom the consequences of Brexit do not much concern, except that my living expenditure here has significantly decreased, it was nevertheless an unwise and hasty decision by the people of the UK. There is always strength in unity, and you certainly need a union like the EU considering the respective size of the member countries. It is yet to be seen what changes exactly Brexit will now bring about for the dynamics of the UK, Europe and the world in general.

I am, however, keen to discuss how Brexit exposed our double standards when it comes to our belief in democratic values. Is it fair for us to call for a second referendum simply because the decisions of the first referendum were not to our liking? Quite simply, democracy empowers people to get a say in affairs of state, and to ask for a second referendum is therefore disrespecting the decisions of those 52 per cent who wanted to leave the EU.

Don’t get me wrong, I largely disagree with the reasoning of the Leave campaigners, but if there was not any outcry on the criteria of the referendum (who can vote or who cannot) before the vote, then a second referendum cannot be justifiable.

Moreover, it is unfair on the people who want to leave if some powerful individuals (the British government) use the resources at their disposal to try and influence the opinions of the people using those resources. I am referring to David Cameron inviting Barack Obama to persuade the British people to stay within the EU. This just shows that if you are a small campaign group who has received a lot of support from the people over time, the government can easily distort the views of the supporters of that campaign group using gimmicks. Inviting Obama was obviously a smart move – he is renowned, and even if people do not know his policies, they still know him socially – and that is unfortunately all you need today to alter the views of the people. It failed nevertheless.

Lastly, I was really surprised to see people complaining about the level of education in the country because they were upset about the rationale used by people to form their decisions when choosing to leave. I agree that in order to fully derive the benefits of democracy, the educational standards of your country should be sufficiently good that people don’t make decisions based on irrational considerations. However, these people did not object to the enforcement of democracy in less literate countries such as Iraq and Libya; here it seems their duty to meddle wherever they want to.

Yes, there could have been really bad leaders in those countries, but if Britain isn’t educated enough for democracy, how can they enforce it elsewhere?

Hence, I conclude, that while Brexit might have unearthed the underlying racism of some leave campaigners, it also helped identify duplicity in some of those who voted to stay.

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