It’s been more than two years now since the majority of British voters chose to separate from the European Union. That historic referendum took place on 23 June 2016.
The outcome shocked many at the time, as the nation’s pollsters had greatly misjudged the will of the people. But once the results were tallied, most pundits accepted that the British government would follow through with the voters’ decision.
The Australian Tribune’s publisher, Kris Sayce, was not among them.
Within days of the referendum, he went on record saying that the EU would never allow the UK to split away. The entrenched bureaucracy spiralling out from Brussels and reaching deep into London had far too much to lose.
And the fierce negotiations over the past 27 months, with two steps back for every two steps forward, has done nothing to change his mind.
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The risk of a second vote
The most dangerous tactic the EU leaders are using is pressing for a second referendum. Never mind that their pressure amounts to outside interference from foreign governments.
Having a second vote when you don’t like the results of the first one sets a dangerous precedent.
After years of fearmongering by the ‘remain’ campaign on both sides of the Channel, it’s quite possible the vote may go the other way if it were held tomorrow. That’s one of the ideas likely driving the EU’s prolonged and inflexible negotiating tactics.
But if this does unfold as the EU bureaucracy hopes, there’s nothing to keep the ‘leave’ campaign from pushing for yet another vote once the people realise that they had a good reason for voting ‘leave’ the first time around.
The EU’s leaders, however, appear blind to that risk.
What are the EU’s leaders saying?
PAA reports that Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says there is ‘almost unanimous’ support among EU leaders for Britain to hold a second referendum.
Yesterday, Muscat said any deal would be ‘sub-optimal’ to continued membership. He added the oft repeated threat that, ‘It won’t be as easy as yesterday to trade between the two sides.’
Addressing BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Muscat stated:
‘There is a unanimous, or almost unanimous I would say right now, point of view around the table that we would like the almost impossible to happen, that the UK has another referendum. I wouldn’t know what the result would be, whether it would be any different from the first result. I think most of us would welcome a situation where there is the possibility of the British people putting things into perspective, seeing what has been negotiated, seeing the options and then deciding once and for all.’
We doubt that Muscat and his fellow EU leaders really believe it’s almost impossible for the UK to hold a second referendum. They’ve been not so quietly pushing for this since shortly after the first referendum.
It also seems unlikely they haven’t been following the polls. Most polls conducted this year are showing that a second vote would likely see a slim majority of voters deciding to remain.
And that’s exactly what the EU’s leaders are banking on.
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