Brexit

How to sort out this second referendum nonsense – make it best of five

BY Iain Martin | iainmartin1   /  25 September 2018

Were you up for Starmer? Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer was given a standing ovation at Labour conference when he declared that “Remain” is still an option for Labour if it defeats the government on Brexit.

Inevitably, this has got the pro EU flag-waving People’s Vote crowd (I must stop calling them the People’s Vote loonies, that’s really not fair) very excited. Good reporters on the ground – including Thomas Penny of Bloomerg – point out that it was only about a quarter of the crowd that stood up for Starmer. I noted several Labour MEPs involved in the standing up. Cannot think why those soon to be ex-MEPs might want another vote on staying in the EU. One of life’s little mysteries.

Is there going to be a second referendum on rejecting the decision of the voters in 2016? Nothing is impossible – travel to other galaxies, the Beatles reforming, the unelected Andrew Adonis accepting Brexit – but the People’s Vote lot are desperate because time is running out and soon we’ll have left. In April they’ll have to switch to campaigning to go back in, a different and more difficult proposition.

An immediate second vote is highly unlikely, however. It’s not just the argument over the question and the shortage of time. Imagine how popular the politicians who devise this would be for inflicting such a campaign on the voters, that is normal people who do not wear pro-EU berets and pepper their social media accounts with FBPE (sorry, strict rules, cannot respond to FBPE people) wittering. And no-one has come up with a coherent¬†explanation as to why there cannot then be a subsequent referendum or several votes on the terms on which the UK goes back in if the voters do decide that, after all, we love the EU, cannot leave and must beg that nice Mr Tusk for full freedom of movement.

We need a clear and simple way through the impasse. I may have found it.

One more referendum is clearly not going to settle things. This is going to have to be at least best of three and more likely best of five.

To clear the way, what we need first is a preliminary vote – this could be a parliamentary decision but it’s probably better done as a pre-referendum referendum to decide and agree once and for all the terms of the referendums to follow. So that everyone knows where they stand.

That initial vote needs to settle not only whether it is best of three or best of five, but also whether the next referendum is the second referendum, the first being 2016, or whether this is actually the third, with the first referendum on membership having taken place in 1975. This vote will help clear things up.

Then, if the next referendum is counted as the second, taking place early next year, then for it to be settled fairly in a best of three model that means a subsequent decider referendum in 2022. The order then is 2016 (clear win for leave), 2019 (win for ?) and then 2022 (?).

Or in the pre-referendum referendum it might have been decided to make this next one the second referendum in a best of FIVE combo. Which gives us referendums in 2019, 2022, 2025 and 2028, with a final decision declared a decade from now. Exciting.

Or… we accept that the next referendum is really a THIRD referendum. The first was 1975 (win for Remain) and the second (win for leave) in 2016.

The only sporting answer then is to make the gaps between referendums 41 years. The deciding tie in the three part referendum on these terms then takes place in 2057, that is 41 years from 2016. A long time to wait but most of us could get on with other things in the interim.

Or… we go for the gold-plated option to make sure we are really sure. ¬†In this premium solution we make it best of five. That’s… 1975 (win for remain), 2016 (win for leave), then 2057 (win for ?), and 2098 (win for ?), with the final decider on whether or not the UK should be in the EU, assuming that earth still exists, to take place in a live televised grand finale decider in 2139.

I don’t know about you; I cannot wait.