Here’s the thing: Brexit has, is, and will continue to divide the country, not in the traditional fashion: there’s no north-south divide with Brexit — not really, anyway. Many areas of the United Kingdom mimicked the almost 50-50 split in the 2016 Eu referendum which dragged the country into what seems like a never-ending mess of new faces, same problems, no solutions. Ever since, any vote, whether it be the 2017 ‘I promise it will never happen’ General Election, the 2019 ‘this is not about Brexit’ local elections, or the 2019 ‘this one is about Brexit, sort of’ European Elections, have all been interpreted as being exclusively about Brexit, reinforcing my own theory that Brexit has become the political black cloud which has successfully blotted out the smaller, fluffier clouds of the NHS, education, and transport. And yet, the Conservative party have developed a set response to any result they might possibly achieve, regardless of the circumstances.
A good election? The country wants Brexit.
A poor election? The country wants Brexit.
The worst result for the party ever in the EU elections? The country just must want Brexit.
But what does the country actually want? They seem, amidst all their claims and conclusive statements, to be too scared to ask.
A second referendum is the answer — or, at least, the closest thing to an answer which we have on offer to us. As if the lies (a word I use in the most objective way possible), dodgy deals and road on behalf of the Vote Leave campaign weren’t enough — which, in literally any vaguely-democratic nation, they ought to be —, there is a generation of 18-21-year-old Brits who, being too young to vote three years ago, are watching this catastrophe unfold before their eyes, and watching their votes mean nothing to those in charge, with nothing being equivalent to a cry for Brexit. This week’s by-election in Peterborough, narrowly won by Labour, is not necessarily an accurate reflection on the view of the people of Peterborough on Brexit: there is more to life, and more to politics, than when, how and, even, why we are leaving the European Union. The only way of receiving any useful feedback to a question is, funnily enough, asking the question; perhaps politicians’ tendencies to avoid anything which could possibly, on a misty winter’s day without their glasses on, resemble a direct question is rubbing off on their policies. Those who were too young to vote; those who voted on blatant lies; those who voted without information and understanding: all these people deserve a chance to dictate their future, as democracy states, rather than allow it it to become bleak beyond recognition, under the influence of a financially propped-up government, lead by someone elected by 100,000 individuals from, on the whole, one political leaning. Anyone else hearing alarm bells?
A second referendum won’t solve Brexit though: I’m not naive enough to believe that. Brexit is the result of many issues in the UK, including austerity, inequality, and a lack of political transparency. Even if, for argument’s sake, a second referendum saw Britain comfortably secure its status within Europe, the divide wouldn’t deteriorate, and unity would not be restored. It will take a politician, and indeed a government, who is willing to tackle the causes of Brexit, and the concerns for the future of our country and of our own union, to restore stability and harmony to the united Kingdom. Equally, crashing out of Europe on 31st October — a scenario which, to my horor, seems all-too-likely at this point in early June 2019 — would not remove the division from British society. Inequality is not a result of EU membership; nor is austerity, low public spending or education reforms. These things will not die after Brexit — indeed, without the influence of the European Union, and the security of the shared established laws, many such as myself envisage them becoming much, much worse.
Short-term, however, the answer is clear: a second referendum, not in the form of a General Election (although I fear one of those is headed our way too), nor local elections; a second referendum, in the form of a direct question to the British people, with the widespread availability of truth, facts and understanding of the consequences of either outcome. A second referendum, to give the youngest generation a voice. A second referendum, to give the people a democratic vote, based on truths, as our democratic rights dictate. A second referendum, to save this country from the greed and self-interest of the handful of ‘everyday people’ who are anything but, currently dragging the United Kingdom off a cliff-edge, into the oblivion beyond.