8/08/2019

Between A Rock and A Hard Brexit

"Killing Brexit by political fiat or a second referendum is unlikely. True, a political leader could simply stand up and say that Brexit is a dumb idea that needs to be abandoned (which is substantively true). But with Liberal Democrats in disarray and Labour captured by the extreme Left, it is hard to see where such leadership could come from. Brexit has already redrawn the political map in the UK, continues to destroy both leading political parties from the inside, and will continue to crowd out every other issue until it is somehow put to rest.

Denmark had a second referendum on the Maastricht Treaty after being granted a number of opt-outs and Ireland held a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. But those had nowhere near the same level of salience as membership, especially in a country notorious for its lukewarm attitude to the European project. There is, furthermore, no indication of buyer’s remorse on the part of the Brexiteers—if anything, their attitudes have hardened. A second referendum would thus either confirm the result of the 2016 plebiscite, or create a myth of a stab in the back, poisoning British politics for generations."