Marching for Europe

The many thousands of people who joined the Marches for Europe across several British cities this weekend were not just “sore losers”. There were also “regretful winners”, and a large number of people from both camps who are worried about where we go now.

Above all, the demonstrations were a further illustration of the fact that many people do not consider Brexit to be a done deal.

Quite apart from the serious misgivings about the referendum (with the mendacious lies told by the Leave campaign and the rigged franchise), widespread criticism is now focusing on the choice still to be made by the government on whether it wants a soft Brexit, staying in the single market, or a hard one. The government apparently wants to make this choice without a vote in parliament, let alone a referendum.

There is no ‘mandate’ for choosing either of these options. Indeed, the opposite is true. Whichever option is chosen, Leave voters would be right to say it’s not what they were promised. A soft Brexit would mean keeping free movement of people and subscribing to other single market rules. A hard Brexit would impede British trade not just with Europe but with the world, causing a big economic hit to Britain.

The government is clearly divided on this choice. But whichever one it chooses, and then seeks to negotiate to the best of its capability, surely it should be subject to a democratic vote.

A narrow majority of British voters expressed a preference for a manufactured, glossily-portrayed Brexit scenario in the (advisory) referendum in June. Don’t they now deserve a right to vote on the real deal, once its consequences are visible for all to see?

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