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Since the vote to leave the EU, we have looked in vain for signs of healing. Would there ever come a point in which moderate leavers (prepared to compromise a little) and moderate remainers (prepared to accept that Britain is leaving the European Union) find common ground? Do not hold your breath.
But now, there are some welcome signs of unity. Not only did the agreement in December of phase one in the Brexit talks (well done civil service) please moderate leavers, it reassured moderate remainers too. Together, these groups make up easily more than half the country. However, if moderates were pleased, prominent hardliners – the angry minority position – on both sides were furious because it indicated the Brexit thing is happening, with compromises. Stop Brexiteers have all but lost, even though some don’t realise it yet, and the hardest Brexiteers don’t like any impurity.
As if to underline the symbiotic nature of the relationship between hard line leavers and the stop Brexit crowd, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has today moved onto the same page as Tony Blair and Lord Adonis. Farage said that he is close to wanting a Brexit referendum.
“Maybe, just maybe, I’m reaching the point of thinking that we should have a second referendum … on EU membership,” he said on something called the Wright Show. If not, Remain figures will “go on whinging and whining and moaning all the way through this process. I think if we had a second referendum on EU membership we’d kill it off for a generation,” he said.
It would be cruel to suggest that Nigel Farage thinks that maybe we have reached the point where we should have more publicity for Nigel Farage. He is not having an easy time. Despite being one of the most consequential figures of recent decades in British public life, with the referendum happening to a large extent because of the pressure he applied, he is by his own admission skint and down in the dumps. Meanwhile, David Cameron is making pots of money and even Nick Clegg is getting a knighthood. The Queen has a famous sense of humour, and as a Brexiteer she will surely get such a laugh out of knighting Sir Nick. There is none of this for Nigel, stuck in an Alan Partridge Radio Norwich nightmare. In Farage’s situation, who wouldn’t want to get the whole referendum fandango going again?
Of course, if they get a re-run Farage and Blair want different outcomes in their second referendum, although one does wonder whether the Faragists wouldn’t secretly rather have the grievance, that is losing and having something meaningful to moan about forever. That would be far easier than implementing Brexit, and managing the complexities of global regulation while maintaining links with our neighbours.
The second referendum pact (presumably unspoken) between Farage and Blair is a thoroughly welcome development, in at least one respect. Both are significant figures who are toxic for large numbers (an overwhelming majority?) of Britons. Thus, not liking a Farage-Blair alliance on a second referendum call is something most of us can get behind. An added bonus is that it is funny watching ultra-Remainers welcoming something suggested by Nigel Farage.