Theresa May has said on multiple occasions she won’t back a second Brexit referendum. The reason? She believes it would be an affront to democracy. Without putting too fine a point on it, this just isn’t true. The reason she won’t call a referendum is that it would be admitting that she failed – and the Conservative party lied.
The Brexit Referendum and the £350 Million Elephant in the Room
How could requiring more input from the British People be un-democratic? Because in the eyes of many a second vote is a slippery slope. “Why not just have ten referendums or even 20!” I heard a gentleman cry on the golf course. Ordinarily, I would agree 100% that a second vote would be an assault on democracy. Unfortunately, there is a £350 million elephant in the room.
When Gove and Johnson were let off the leash alongside Nigel Farage at UKIP, they were out making promises regardless of their veracity. Theresa May knows this. The leave Brexit campaign exploited a lack of understanding about what the EU does, in an already skeptical nation. The only thing the media reports about in the UK about the EU is how they impose ludicrous requirements on fruit or that they are unleashing a flood of immigrants on the UK.
The famous red bus suggesting that £350 million a week would be pumped into the NHS naturally caught the public’s eye.
EU Membership is the Price for Having A Stall in the Marketplace
What Theresa May (and probably Brexiteers Gove and Johnson know too) is that membership of the EU is essentially a fee to have your stall in the marketplace. If you spend $20 every week but make $200 selling your wares, that sounds like a good deal; £350 million might seem like a lot every week, but not when it provides unfettered access to the most lucrative trading partnerships available.
The UK economy is worth $2.6 trillion. Thus, £350 million only seems like a lot when you ignore the true economic reality.
It is an even more insignificant amount when you consider that the UK is wealthy largely because it is an English-speaking conduit to Europe. It’s actually a minimal price to pay to enjoy a prominent place in the world order.
If Theresa May offers a second Brexit referendum, she is admitting that the British people were sold an apple and given a raw potato. Another Brexit vote would essentially be confirming that prominent members of her party definitively lied.
Two Brexit Certainties: The UK Will Return to the EU and Tory Credibility is Shot
The next problem with a referendum is that Theresa May would have to admit she has failed. Three votes and three rejections from the UK parliament and a promise of resignation have all led Brexit nowhere.
While going back to the people seems perfectly logical given what has transpired, it would mean showing weakness. In the modern world, even a leader as politically impotent as Theresa May can’t say “I have no power.” Instead, we have delay after insufferable delay because no one will admit they don’t have the authority to do anything.
Given the typical age of a “remain voter,” Britain returning to the EU at some point is practically assured. Amidst this Tory-driven chaos, the only other Brexit certainty is that Theresa May and friends have destroyed the credibility of the Conservative Party for a generation – if not forever.