On June 23rd 2016, 51.9% of UK voters opted to leave the European Union. I’m writing here to say:
- We made a mistake
- We should have another think about it, and
- The Liberal Democrats might hold the key and not realise it.
UPDATE: Approximately eight hours after my post here, Liberal Democrats pledge to keep Britain in the EU after next election. This is great news. We now just need to persuade the party that they need to run at it on a single-issue basis. By doing so, pro-EU voters can cast a clear vote without other policies clouding the matter, and there can then be no ambiguity in interpreting the vote. This could make the difference between winning and not, and winning by a massive margin. As I write in conclusion to this post, I’m sure the electorate would then thank them in the follow-on election.
Winston Churchill, considered one of the Founding Fathers of the EU, noted that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. It’s wonderful to live in a democracy, and I find it exciting and exasperating, fascinating and frustrating, to be part of the European union of democracies.
A democracy cannot be perfect. The people can make mistakes — of course— and I believe we just made one. A really really big one. Whereas we might change our minds every five years with general elections, leaving the EU is the sort of thing that impacts for generations.
Who am I to say we made a mistake?
Well, I’m no-one other than someone who cares about the UK, who doesn’t want to see the Scottish leave us, who doesn’t want the Northern Irish to think about leaving us, who cares about our economy and people’s jobs, who cares about our environment, who cares about our global leadership in scientific research, who enjoys cultural differences, and who was kinda influenced by an overwhelming consensus for Remain amongst experts in all fields of expertise.
On the one hand, The Economist made a neat compilation of this expert insight. On the other hand, Michael Gove pleaded with the electorate to ignore experts.
I think people in this country have had enough of experts.
WTF. Seriously. Is this how we decided this one? And you tell me this Gove bloke now wants to help lead the country?!
Such dismissal of the facts makes me think that a bunch of people made a protest vote not really thinking that perhaps votes can tip the balance.
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) June 24, 2016
The future UK wants a future in the EU
Did those under 50-years of age, who it seems clearly want to remain in the EU, just get pushed out to sea by those over-50's who, with all due respect to the maths, won’t be around so long to live with the consequences?
It seems the result would have been to Remain had the voting age been 16 as it was for the Scottish referendum in 2014. And just in case you have a problem with 16-year olds voting, just think that had we run this referendum in 2018 rather than this year, the effect is the same. Remain.
And the funny thing is (no, actually, none of this is funny) … there’s no way we will have left the EU by then!
Put that another way, in 2018 the UK will be busy as the underdog trying to negotiate an exit that the majority of us won’t want. And all the more so as those who voted to Leave start to see the Leave campaign’s lies for what they were — as we are already seeing by their own admissions.
Another vote … no not like that
So how can we fix this?
Over a million people have already signed a petition to run a second referendum with a new rule requiring a majority of 60% and turnout of at least 75%. I’ve signed it, but I’m not sure where those numbers were plucked from to be honest.
No. I fear that won’t do it. It’s all a bit too fabricated. So how about this?…
I got an email yesterday evening from Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats. (Not just to me — I’m sure thousands got it. I get email from all mainstream parties, fyi.) He writes:
I’m devastated. Today fear has beaten hope, fiction has beaten fact and our country has been catapulted into the unknown.
I’m with you Paddy. And Tim feels the same.
The Liberal Democrats accept that the people have chosen and this is the result we must move forwards with.
No Paddy! No. No. No.
The Lib Dems hold the key!
I believe that if we had a bit of a rethink, if we let a few more of those 17 year-olds get to 18, if we sit and watch how Boris & Co. get on, then any party that runs a one-issue campaign at the next UK election, on remaining in the EU, will win. And that result, being the most recent, would top this week’s.
Remember that the next UK election will almost certainly take place before we’re anywhere near having brexited. And long before if two-thirds of MPs decide to vote for an early election in light of this week’s events (and three quarters of them were in the Remain camp).
You guys kept the Conservatives in balance during the coalition government, and now it’s time to step in again. You can do the job, and then call another general election on all the other issues we really should be grappling with as a country. And you never know, we might show our deep gratitude.
Image source: Tim Peake of the European Space Agency (ESA) shared this nighttime photo on Jan. 25, 2016, writing, “Beautiful night pass over Italy, Alps and Mediterranean.”