Although at the root of it are two very different “past politicians” vying for some kind of relevancy in today’s world, they have formed an interesting conjunction with a perhaps unexpected result. Tony Blair insisting that with him in the frame, in a second referendum on the EU the British electorate will have come to their senses and vote for remain. Nigel Farage bored with not being the centre of attention any more, would welcome the opportunity to fight a second referendum.
Of course and despite the ardent desires of Remainers like the FT, The Economist, Blair, Clegg, Miller and the like, the possibility of another referendum has been greeted with total silence by the electorate.
The highly vociferous “Remainers” have long demanded a second vote but if they imagined half the population given the possibility would be out there on the streets demanding one the moment that “Arch Leaver Farage” admitted it as a possibility, they must be deeply disappointed. There hasn’t even been a sweeping series of demands for one from the likes of the SNP etc who totally opposed Brexit and I think that there is a very good reason for that.
In a word it is voter fatigue, for any side of any argument that forced voters back to the polls in the foreseeable future will get punished by the electorate. As far as they are concerned and especially those who voted Remain, none of the promised calamities threatened materialised apart from Sterling dropping a bit in value which may not prove to be too bad a thing for UK finances as it happens. Also the game has moved on and in a sense people have accepted that Brexit is happening and just want to see the Government get on with it.
Frankly what they don’t want either which is a mistake the media keep making, is for people to keep on banging on about it, as far as even the majority of Remainers are concerned, it is a done deal.
This Circus Has Left Town
One of the amusing things is when British TV reporters tell us in news pieces that Brexit doesn’t figure on the front pages of European newspapers because it is unimportant to them now. Are the British public surprised ? No because we feel the same way in fact it is only in the introverted British Media where they keep chewing on it like an old bone that it seems to matter. I suspect that the media have become so fixated on Brexit that when it is all done and dusted we will see a repeat of the “Princess Diana” pattern, they will keep on trying to manufacture stories about it for months and years afterwards.
For the EU and some people in it, after the initial shock of the result, there might well have been a hope that it could be reversed but that all ended before last Christmas when the agreement to move on was struck, the reality is accepted and the only way is forward. In fact within the EU, even those keenest to have seen the UK remain a member, would not welcome a change of direction at this stage of the game.
Also the World has moved on, beyond Brexit came Trump and across Europe “populism” was battled which the incumbent politicians declared was successfully done because people like Le Pen didn’t gain power but they were wrong. Populism won everywhere in one form or the other, the political centre had to lean to the right in order to survive and once fringe ideas on immigration entered the political mainstream. Even Macron is a populist phenomena, how could a man and party with no existing track record in politics be anything other populist ?
Finally even Merkel and Germany were humbled by a right wing movement that for the first time gained seats. It has taken over 3 months to cobble together another “Grand Alliance” and German Government which may prove fragile but even if not, this will not be the decisive German voice the EU is used to, as a side issue, it’s not likely to be helpful for the UK either.
It may seem a cruel observation to make but perhaps the British electorate chose exactly the right moment in time and circumstances to bail out from the EU because whilst the current global economic surge will keep the Euro safe, the next downturn must surely bring a major correction to it. As written many times elsewhere, my view is that eventually, unless the EU accepts that one size does not fit all and adjusts its membership options accordingly, the thing that will break the EU apart as we know it today will be the Euro.
A Personal Perspective
When it comes to a second referendum, I am opposed to it and mainly because if held, it would be socially highly divisive and we don’t need that, there is far too much “Mr Angry” style politics as it is. Also, what on earth would you put on the ballot paper, what would the question be ?
It could hardly just be “Do you want the UK to Remain a member of the EU or, Leave the EU ?” given that there was a previous ballot, the question would need some kind of ‘modifier’ to acknowledge that fact but what would be both clear and simple to include on a ballot paper I have no idea.
However if there were another poll, I would vote for Leave just the same and as previously, not worry whether I am on the winning or losing side. If we continue with Brexit, we should have secured our economy, as far as is possible prior to the next crash and therefore be in a better position to deal with it. If we had another poll and this time voted for Remain, we would then be trying to redesign our economy in the middle of chaos when the next big wave topples the Euro and sends the EU into a tailspin.
Since the foolish handling of the Greek Crisis, it has become obvious that the EU is not here to stay. If you can’t handle a Country of only 11 million people, clearly you are not capable of dealing with something far more serious like say Italy.