Remainers calling for a second referendum are in danger of committing the same negligent mistake as Leavers’ that has led to turmoil in British politics.
Leavers failed to flesh out details, consequences and what path to take when they won in 2016. Remainers, too, are putting ideology above pragmatism, and have so far failed to produce a road map for Britain staying in the European Union.
Let us speculate that there is a second vote and Remainers win
Could Remain celebrations really light up Britain’s streets with political leaders mouthing off sound bites about healing divisions, while half the country feels cheated?
How can anyone think that will work?
The Remain camp urgently needs to accept that Brexit is symptomatic of a wider challenge to the European Project seen through the rise of the populist right, increased separatism and illiberal rebellion among the east and central European countries.
Brexit is the one strand which has been put to the vote and the EU lost.
Had the EU been an institution in robust health it would have reacted by looking publicly into what had gone wrong and how problems should be addressed.
It would have set up a formal structure through which all of us could feed ideas, feel involved and design a future vision for Europe.
What is this region? What are our values? What do the four principles want to achieve? How can the EU be made more democratic? How to tackle corruption? Etc.
But it has not. Whether from Merkel, Macron or Juncker, all we have had are isolated ideas.
Can any British government really tear up Article 50 and, tail between its legs, keep Britain in the European Union as if nothing has happened.
Can it be acceptable to step back in, knowing that millions of tax payers Euros are wasted every year by having a second parliament in Strasbourg just to humor the French; that the European Parliament is too weak in a modern democracy against the power of unelected officials; that Europe needs to redefine itself if it is to avoid the risk of returning to the carnage that has justifiably earned it the reputation of being the ‘savage continent.’
Therefore, if we do go into a second referendum, voters will need to know Britain’s vision for a future Europe and what its role in that will be.
At present there is no such road map.
The Liberal Democrats, as the only party campaigning unequivocally for Britain’s membership of the European Union, have a high level of responsibility now to take that lead.