A second Brexit referendum looks more of a possibility, now that Jeremy Corbyn has said in an article in today’s Guardian that it could be an option if all else fails to break the Westminster deadlock. Whether that makes it more likely is another matter, since if a general election came first, many would perceive that as a proxy Brexit referendum – albeit only if the parties’ positions were clear and offered a choice. As things stand, I’m not sure a clean, clear choice would emerge in a general election – although under different Tory leadership it could be hard Brexit with the Tories or soft Brexit with Labour. I suppose that would do. The LibDems might offer remain of course, but I think I would rather eat vomit. Yes, that’s not a very nice thing to say about 'Sir' Vince and his crew.
It’s been said many times that there is no public appetite for a second referendum. The same may be said of another general election. Are we to start Brexit negotiations all over again with a new government? Labour surely wouldn’t want to be lumbered with any remnants of the Tory deal which it has so deeply eviscerated. So a general election is a double-edged sword when it comes to the electorate. And to make matters worse, it would be a winter general election just after Christmas, when everyone is feeling the pinch. Not a propitious moment. Better to scrap the whole thing and recall the fact that the first referendum was simply a test of opinion with no legally binding remit.
Having said which, something needs to be said about the response of the E.U. One cannot blame their side for seeking to reduce the benefits the U.K. thought it could get away with. They don’t want to encourage imitators. But from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t look as if anyone in Brussels wants to seriously address the issues which brought this to a head in the first place. There seems to be an air of complacency hanging over the E.U. establishment, as if to say when that always diffident, if not downright objectionable U.K. lot are out of the way, we can carry on with business as usual. I predict things won’t be B.A.U. for the E.U. after Brexit (if it happens). It’s even possible over time that it could transform itself into something we’d want to join again, and it could be that Brexit is the only catalyst that could make that imaginable.