I thought that the daftest Brexit offering, was the demand by opposition MPs and one (now former) Conservative MP, that the Government share its EU exit negotiating strategy and objectives with the House of Commons. As one of my colleagues put it “I just wish I had had the opportunity to play high stakes poker with them”. As I’ve said before in this column, if you really want a particular thing out of a negotiation, you don’t reveal it, on the contrary, you show that you are absolutely indifferent about it, otherwise your counterparty will raise his price accordingly.
Now however, Tim Farron has revived an earlier demand for a second referendum: One at the outcome of the article 50 negotiations, so that people can decide to either remain, or to leave on the basis of the negotiated terms.
There is a small fly in the ointment: So far, we have been told that article 50, once invoked, is irreversible (indeed the High Court based its recent judgement on this very fact) and that the EU won’t negotiate with us at all until we do invoke article 50. There is therefore, no logic whatsoever to any post article 50 referendum, because the moment we invoke the article there is already no going back, even if a subsequent referendum result demanded it.
(Of course, this could all change with the Government’s appeal to the Supreme Court).
There is another glaring problem, obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a moment: The EU does not want us to leave; holding another referendum at the end of the negotiations presents the EU with an opportunity to offer the most dreadful terms imaginable (including cutting off its own nose to spite its face), confident that these terms will be rejected in the referendum.
Of course, that is the objective of those that propose the second referendum: they want to reverse the result of the first one, so perhaps Tim Farron isn’t daft at all, but he must think that we all are.
The notion that we did not know what we were voting for on 23rd June, and that we need a second chance to get the right answer, is not untypical of elites who disparage and distrust democracy.
The Remain campaign painted a picture of the ‘hardest’ Brexit imaginable. They told us that not only would the Leave campaign’s extra billions for the NHS never materialise, but that on the contrary, we would be too poor and too denuded of NHS staff to afford to have an NHS at all. The voters didn’t fall for it. They have made their decision and it is now the responsibility of all democrats to get on and implement it.