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The muddled message of a people's vote

The People's Vote campaign needs to decide whether it is campaigning to Remain or for a people's vote.  The two are not the same, and the arguments sometimes conflict.  It sends a confusing message.  To get a people's vote, they will need to win support across the spectrum.

Simply telling Leave voters that they have made a "mistake" isn't going to win them over.  They need convincing that a people's vote is not merely a trick to stop Brexit; it is for them also.

But, listening to some Remain campaigners, a people's vote appears to be a ploy to stop Brexit.  Their argument is primarily based on the idea that voters were "tricked" or "misled" in the last election.

Their argument is another way of saying Leave voters were stupid, or gullible.  When they are challenged on this point, they will say "no, of course, we are not saying that", and then it is followed by a "but" - "but the Leave campaign lied!"

This is hardly the best argument for another referendum.  The test of gullibility isn't one-sided.  If voters are gullible, they are gullible across the piste.

If "being lied to" was a reason for not accepting a decision by voters, then the result of almost every General Election would be nullified.   Democracy is about taking the outcome of free and fair elections.

Being lied to is not a sufficient justification for another vote.  Another vote must be predicated on something substantial, such as a withdrawal agreement.  It is to give voters the chance to cast their judgement on whether it is what they really want, and not merely another in/out preference.

We are told, "If people knew the consequences" of Brexit, then they would vote to remain.  Yet, there have been several studies demonstrating the harmful economic consequences of Brexit, yet voters have barely shifted their position, or at least the polls are unconvincing.   There has been no groundswell of opinion changing the mood from 2016.  Of course, some people have changed their minds, but many voters simply want "to get Brexit done" because the uncertainty is also harmful.

Martialling a million people in the streets of London doesn't tell us what voters want.  It tells us that many people are passionate about their cause - to remain in the EU.

Remainers often say their position is a matter of principle - as if those who want to leave are devoid of principles.  They stake out the moral high ground as if their case is self-evident.  People who disagree with them just "don't get it" or "can't see it".  They don't really address the valid reasons why people want to leave the EU.   They idealise the EU.

Indeed it is an ideal.  But as with all ideals, not everyone wishes to adopt them, or they believe there are better ways to achieve them than through the "ever closer union'.

To those who want to leave the EU,  those waiving the EU flag with pride appear to scorn those who wave an English one.   The EU is presented in romantic terms; pride in being English is treated with scorn.  This is also duplicity within UK politics.  Scottish Nationalism and Welsh Nationalism are treated as heroic, but English nationalism is regarded as racist or worse.   Unless we understand this, we are never going to heal the wounds of Brexit.

Many who campaigned to leave the EU have done so on principle for decades.  They believe passionately that the "ever closer union" is a march to a super-state - a United States of Europe - that challenges the sovereignty of parliament.   They are also concerned about the economic direction of the EU.

Of course, it can be argued that it is better to stay and seek to change the EU.  But "ever closer union" is built-in by treaty.

Yes, we need a people's vote, but not merely as a ploy to remain.   We need it because it is the right thing to do to be sure we make a considered decision about a future outside or in the EU.

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