Why a second referendum would be a disaster

Voters were told we would make the decision on leave or stay. We were told it was a once in a generation opportunity to make this decision. This was all in the government leaflet and in the Hansard record of the Referendum Bill debates. So any second referendum would be a clear violation of past promises, bad for trust in government and politics. No-one thinks the establishment would give a second thought to a second referendum if they had won for Remain. They would have been biting and scornful in turning down any such requests from unhappy Leavers. Many of us would have accepted the result as we did for the prior one we lost where we did not ask for another for the first 20 years or so. It was only when the so called Common Market people voted for had visibly morphed into a monetary union with a planned political union on top that we sought a referendum on this fundamental change of character in the EU.

The most likely outcome of a second referendum is another win for Leave, which would presumably do nothing to appease those who lost last time and now demand another go. Were the second to narrowly reverse the first, then Leave would rightly feel cheated and would ask for best of 3.

Campaigners say we need to vote now we know the terms of exit. The truth is of course we do not have a clue what the terms of an agreed exit will be, and might not know them for 2 or 4 years were something like the Withdrawal Agreement to resurface or were there to be a delay for more talks.

Second voters also cannot agree the question to put. It is insulting to put the same question again, telling 34 million people they did not know what they were doing last time and they have to have another go.
Justine Greening and others propose a three way question – do you want to just leave, or to remain, or to have a negotiated exit. What is the third one? How can this bring the country back together again, when the winning proposal may only have 34% support? That would be a huge invitation for continued unhappiness and more debate over what a three way vote actually meant, and why the majority was thwarted.

Some say they want a vote between some negotiated agreement and remain. That means most Leave voters are disenfranchised because our preferred model is left off. Some say lets have a contest between a negotiated departure and no deal. That is the least offensive one. It is a new question. It cannot take place before there is an agreed option. It would annoy Remain enthusiasts as their option is not on the table, so it is difficult to see the point of it. Meanwhile the law says we leave on 29 March whilst Remain MPs are still trying to thwart Brexit.


  1. Peter Wood
    December 12, 2018

    Let’s review:
    1. Mrs. May sees defeat of the Withdrawal Agreement in the HOC and runs off to seek aid and advice from foreign leaders of the EU.
    2. Mrs. May declines all advice from political leaders in the UK.
    3. Mrs. May has proposed an internationally binding agreement that, by any independent analysis, prefers the counterparty to the UK.
    4. Mrs. May seeks to continue payments of an uncalculated amount to the EU, despite the HOL deciding that there are no obligations owing by the UK to the EU following the UK’s departure from the EU. Mrs. May continues to cite ‘other opinions’ for a ‘debt’, without stating where these other opinions originate.
    5. Mrs. May has said that she has the best and ONLY possible deal. This is a manifest lie, having been provided with a near complete draft deal from her first DExEu minister; preferring instead an agreement prepared by a foreign power.
    6. Mrs. May has attempted to deny to the HOC the full legal opinion on the Withdrawal Agreement, thereby making a well informed decision less probable, resulting in a contempt of the HOC.

    It is beyond comprehension that any member of Parliament could support this prime minister any further, or her course of action, which would appear to aid and abet a foreign power to the detriment of the United Kingdom.

    1. oldtimer
      December 12, 2018

      Well said. May’s WA is a stitch up. The referendum result will only be fully respected by a clear break of the UK from the EU to third country status. Negotiations should follow from recognition of that status

      1. Fishknife
        December 12, 2018

        The backstop is a distraction.

        The existential threat is the Agreement itself.

        Ireland’s veto can/will trap us forever. In limbo.

        Be we Remain or Leave we MUST NOT sign the Withdrawal Agreement.

        Mrs. May’s plan, in its entirety, must go, regardless of who is PM.

    2. sm
      December 12, 2018

      Peter, thank you for posting that excellent and incisive summary.

    3. oldtimer
      December 12, 2018

      In an article at ConservativeHome today Daniel Hannah writes about the Remainers: …”it’s not a conspiracy – except possibly in the sense of what H.G. Wells once called “an open conspiracy”. On the contrary, it has been brazen. Two months ago, for example, John Major, Nick Clegg and Michael Heseltine – a former Prime Minister and two former Deputy Prime Ministers – co-authored an article in a German newspaper urging the EU to hang tough. Such is the Kulturkampf that has raged here since the vote that, instead of being disowned by patriotic Remainers, they were applauded.” That is extraordinary.

    4. Hope
      December 12, 2018

      Why would any believe the remaining MPs would honour a second referendum after failing the first one and a further general election based on it. The corrupt parliament will try for a third or make further specious claims to invalidate the result.

      May is dishonest, she should be ousted. She has tried every trick to get the UK to remain in a treaty the moment we leave. She has failed to get a trade deal ready to sign he moment we leave. She should have gone last December.

    5. Chris
      December 12, 2018

      The damage she has already done in terms of what she has already committed us too is quite staggering. See this about the backstop and what she has already signed us up to, from Brexit Central this morning. Tory MPs should have challenged her long ago and not allowed her to do this. The problem was evident with the Dublin agreement last December:

      “But the fundamental fact remains that the backstop to which she has signed up is not temporary. The recently-published legal advice from the Attorney General on the backstop – contained in the draft of what would be a legally binding Withdrawal Agreement which the EU is clearly not willing to renegotiate – states that it would “endure indefinitely until a superseding agreement took its place” and that “the Withdrawal Agreement cannot provide a legal means of compelling the EU to conclude such an agreement”.

    6. Steve
      December 12, 2018

      Peter Wood

      “1. Mrs. May sees defeat of the Withdrawal Agreement in the HOC and runs off to seek aid and advice from foreign leaders of the EU.”

      Just confirms she thinks the EU owns this country.

      “5. Mrs. May has said that she has the best and ONLY possible deal”

      Because she wants to be seen as the one who kept the UK subservient, and collect the prize money.

    7. percy openshaw
      December 12, 2018

      I agree Mr Wood. It is staggering that the parliamentary Tory party should be composed of creatures so purblind and small minded; it beggars belief that they sustain this raft of failure and deceit. But they do! Many of them. Our society must be in headlong decline to have elected so many careerist votaries of Mammon to the highest office.

    8. Lifelogic
      December 12, 2018

      Indeed. No one at all should be voting to retain Appeaser May unless they are anti-British or Marxists or just want Corbyn to destroy the UK’s economy perhaps. May will destroy the Tories too if she is allowed to. It is not too late yet to get a real Brexit, move to a sensible lower tax and regulation economic policy and avoid Corbyn. A win,win,win for the economy and almost everyone but bureaucrats and big business rent seekers.

    9. bigneil
      December 12, 2018

      She is after her “Reward” seat in Brussels for ensuring the UK is handed to them – lock, stock and barrel. The EU is Germany’s 3rd attempt to rule Europe. This time they are just asking nations to pay the EU to wipe them out. And National Suicide seems to be working.

    10. Mitchel
      December 12, 2018

      Interesting article in The Times today – “Shift Thinking to War Footing”:

      “In his first lecture as Chief of the Defence Staff at RUSI,he (General Sir Nick Carter)said that,alongside threats posed by Russia,China,Iran and terrorist networks such as Islamic State,population change heralded trouble.Mass migration was “arguably an existential threat to Europe” compounded by populism and nationalism,which had a “belligerent nature” he said.”

      I find that last part rather sinister – and further evidence that Common Purpose globalists are,after recent changes at the top,now in charge of the armed forces.

  2. Cheshire Girl
    December 12, 2018

    Makes me smile when they go on about a ‘Peoples Vote’, in Parliament. In my opinion, we’ve had one. It was called the Referendum.

    1. eeyore
      December 12, 2018

      Government and Parliament gave solemn promises about the first referendum. When they give their word they should keep it. If they don’t fancy keeping it they shouldn’t give it.

      If there were to be another referendum the only proper question is whether we are willing to release them from their word. Only if the answer is Yes (which it most certainly should not be if we value good faith in public life) could the substantive question be put.

    2. Javelin
      December 12, 2018

      The worrying precedent from the USA is the Democrats attacking democracy when they lost the General election.

      This may not be just about the referendum but all future elections where populists win.

    3. Lifelogic
      December 12, 2018

      Perhaps they think it was squirrels who voted last time? Or they suggest voters were just too thick to understand that we wanted to be an independent democratic nation governed from London once again. With the power to remove those who rule over us and for these people to act in the UKs interests rather than the EUs for a change.

  3. Mark B
    December 12, 2018

    Good morning.

    Actually I think we have got this the wrong way round. What we should be doing is NOT asking people to vote again but, asking the HoC and HoL the following :

    Q“Do you wish to govern this great country of our’s ?”

    A“Yes or No !”

    If yes, then let us Leave the EU and ALL its institutions. If no, then bugger off and let someone else do it !

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      December 12, 2018

      That is an interesting narrative to try and create.

      Of course politicos would turn it on its head and claim they can not govern in the post EU chaos but it would be interesting to watch them sqirm

    2. Alan Jutson
      December 12, 2018

      Mark B


      I simply do not understand why the present crop of Mp’s do not wish to run our own Country.

      Why stand for election, is it vanity, a look at me I am powerful, but in reality too scared to take responsibility to do so.

    3. Lynn Atkinson
      December 12, 2018

      Well said – however I do think we need to consider asking the House of Lords anything at all. The Lords have long gone from their House – the question is whether to shut the door on that place and put the full weight of responsibility for governing on the shoulders of the Commons. It would make men of them!

    December 12, 2018

    The only question to be asked is why is this nauseating person still my party leader and still my PM?

  5. Mick
    December 12, 2018

    Let’s cut all this bull the only reason the remoaner bad losers and halfwit snowflakes want another referendum is so that by any means legal or illegal with the backing of the Eu/mps with Eu-Europe interest/ some big business/other foreign national with money is to keep us in the dreaded Eu, well muppets if by chance you did get the vote and if you did overturn the 2016 result then you had better be ready for civil unrest because of the anger it would create, careful what you wish for

  6. Newmania
    December 12, 2018

    The first referendum was not called because there was any demand for it. It was called partly because UKIP were making small inroads into the Conservative Party vote but mostly because the dwindling and old Conservative Party membership were now extremists .They were supported by dissatisfied back bench MPs especially those who felt ( shall we say) insufficiently rewarded. It was a knife edge result implying only a slight distancing form the EU. Mrs May sought a mandate and failed to get one .
    There is far far more call for a referendum now as we watch the lies of the first colliding with reality and listen to the whine ” This wasn`t the Brexit in my head” form those responsible . I need hardly recount the scurrilous mendacity by which the first referendum was ” won” they are too well know,n as is the relentless appeal to bigotry
    Redwood and Corbyn claim they can negotiate some better deal , but we cannot consider fairy tales . Thew choice is between the realities. The deal on the table and Remain.

    Those who hate Europe never accepted anything , how dare you suggest such a thing , for despite the fantastic success of our country in Europe since the dark 70s they have ceaselessly tried to foment racial and ethnic aggression for their cause . The alliance of Enoch Powell and Tony Benn is alive and well with its own obsessive agendas that go way beyond leave on each side.

    Moderate political opinion has no representation , the young are excluded , just about every success and economically vital interest is excluded from a decision and there is no peace either way now ; not ever.
    Remain is now an organised movement , the largest in Europe , people identify more with Brexit and remain than with political Parties , our Parliament is visibly broken
    Thats the joke , the constitution some pretend to care about has never been more obviously outdated dysfunctional and just utterly useless

    The only way forward is a second referendum

    1. libertarian
      December 15, 2018



      2014 Euro elections won with ease by Eurosceptic party campaigning to leave

      2016 Referendum won with ease in biggest vote in UK history by leave

      2017 General election 80% of voters voted for parties with manifestos to leave

      Grow up and accept democracy and stop your childish pathetic virtue signalling

    December 12, 2018

    Those calling for a second referendum are an insult to our democratic freedoms, a danger to the integrity of our democratic traditions, a threat to our political traditions and to the United Kingdom itself

    They are in effect saying democracy is only useful when it delivers the result they want. If it doesn’t do that then they’ll use democracy for whatever political purpose they have in mind

    If there’s a second referenda I believe you’ll see strife simply on the basis that it will prove beyond question that there’s a political clique that is determined to crush democratic influence should democracy not serve their needs. We will have entered into very dangerous territory indeed that could have serious and unintended consequences

    Democracy will be damaged forever. Confidence in our political masters will simply snap.

    A political class is determined to crush our democratic will and our democratic spirit. Now that would political decision making so much easier for our Fascistic political class that finds the ‘common man’ a pain the backside

  8. Graham Wood
    December 12, 2018

    John. Well done getting a sensible word in on BBC Newsnight against the usual opposition!

  9. Peter
    December 12, 2018

    Calls for a ‘Losers Vote’ will persist.

    To add insult to injury some – such as Keir Starmer – wish to exclude leaving under WTO terms as an option,

    So far there has been sufficient resistance to deny such requests.

    1. Mockbeggar
      December 12, 2018

      I caught a bit of Newsnight last night in time to catch Mr Redwood trying to put the case for a WTO deal and being constantly interrupted by the interviewer. whereas subsequently another interviewee with clear remainer leanings was allowed full vent with scarcely a single question. It’s a long time since I have seen a senior politician being treated in such an ill mannered manner. It was a disgrace.

  10. Fedupsoutherner
    December 12, 2018

    I don’t know anyone that has changed their mind. It would be out of order for the option of leaving to be off the agenda. What happens if we vote leave again? All MPs agreed and voted to honor the referendum so why are they doing the opposite? I hope we get the 48 letters today. I don’t like our country being run by a traitor.

  11. BCL
    December 12, 2018

    We’ve had a referendum on whether to leave so that decision is made. However, given the gridlock in the HOC over the WA I am less than wholly opposed, though far from enthusiastic, to another referendum with a binary choice between clean Brexit and Mrs May’s deal (or its successor if there is one). To put remain as a choice on the second referendum is to ignore the first and I for one would lose all faith in parliament and our democracy if the clear promises made by everyone on all side, that the result of the first would be respected, were broken. I also think that a second referendum including remain as an option would reopen the unhealed wounds caused by the first one and delay us getting past all this.

  12. Andy
    December 12, 2018

    A second referendum would break promises – and I have never supported one, even though I am a passionate remainer.

    However Brexit itself breaks promises too. All those things Leave campaigner said were lies. All of them. We know Brexit makes all the people who voted for it poorer. We know there is no money for the NHS. We know there is more red tape, not less. The list of untruths goes on and on.

    I know it makes many of you angry. And so it should. But you need to direct your anger at the leaders of the Leave campaign – who so badly misled you.

    You have fallen victim to the dodgy double glazing salesman. The scan roofing contractor. The non existing timeshare. Naturally you are cross. Direct your anger at the fraudsters who totally shafted you – and do your due diligence a bit better next time.

    1. a-tracy
      December 12, 2018

      That’s why they should elect Boris and a Leave Chancellor and hold them completely responsible for getting the best deal or working out how to leave without the deal.

      Boris won’t rule alone he is more collegiate than Mrs May, he could remove Ministers that aren’t effective with their brief. He could bring in experts like Mervin King to advise, and Lord Digby Jones. He could reappoint our EU Commissioner.

    2. Edward2
      December 12, 2018

      Wrong again with all your statements Andy.

      The NHS has had huge amounts of extra funding this year.

      We cannot undo any EU red tape until after we have left.

      We don’t know Brexit makes us poorer. What we have is a dodgy report saying growth may be a little bit less that it might have been in 15 years time.

    3. Maybot
      December 12, 2018


      The fraud was the pledge to honour the Referendum result and then renege on it.

      To say you were delivering Brexit when you were doing everything opposite to that.

    4. matthu
      December 12, 2018

      We know Brexit makes all the people who voted for it poorer???

      Poorer? Than what? Than what you estimate will happen if we stay in the EU?

      (What assumptions did you make about France and Italy? Is the Eurozone about to go into recession?)

      i>Know? What evidence can you possibly have?

      Oh! It’s based on two computer models having slightly different assumptions.

      (And we all know how well your previous predictions have fared, don’t we?)

      The sad thing is that you believe these models. Remainers base their entire case on fear, because they have no vision as to how things might fare if we were to remain in the EU.

    5. libertarian
      December 12, 2018


      Seeing as you can’t even do something basic like look up the FACT that the NHS payment is ALREADY in the budget and is therefore NOT a lie its a fact. The absolute FACT that wages have GROWN by more than anytime in the last decade , so no we aren’t poorer , as we haven’t changed anything yet there is neither more nor less red tape

      Apart from that , great post. Hows your mum?

    6. Jiminyjim
      December 12, 2018

      Andy, I think you must be related to Mrs May. After all, you both follow the same basic rule, which is to continue to spout the same dreary nonsense in the hope that eventually someone will believe you. Your suggestion that we’ve all been duped is as insulting as it is incorrect.

  13. Dave Andrews
    December 12, 2018

    If this referendum is rerun, what credibility will there be for any other referendum that happens in the future?
    How, if at some point parliament decides a referendum is needed on electoral reform for example, can the electorate take it seriously? Might we all suppose the referendum will be declared as only advisory and the vote is either ignored or we’re told to vote again?
    Both Labour and Conservative parties realised this in their last manifestos. Should any MP decide they want a second vote, let them call a by-election and stand as an independent on that basis.

  14. Roy Grainger
    December 12, 2018

    You are right that a second referendum result, whatever it was, would not be accepted by the losers – and why should it be ? One Remain faction represented by Ken Clarke anyway regards referendums as “glorified opinion polls” and would presumably therefore oppose a second one.

    One additional problem to the ones you list are that the Remain option itself is undefined – what does it mean ? Does it mean we have to supply troops to a future European Army ? Via conscription ? What will our future financial contributions to the EU be ? How many EU immigrants will we have to accept in 2020, 2021 etc. ? All totally undefined, so voters for Remain don’t know what they’re voting for.

  15. Newmania
    December 12, 2018

    The only way forward is a second referendum

    ..and that is just the start . The constitution has failed us all and we must now have a National debate on how to reform it. The idea that unlike the “continent” we are unchanging , is much exaggerated. Change used to be part of the strength of the country. Now we have reached an impasse, a country held back by a corrupt duopoly of extremists . We cannot put up with this any more

    1. Edward2
      December 12, 2018

      What if the result of a second referendum is tied ?
      You cannot effectively smear 17.2 million people as extremists just because they have a different view to you.
      That is just ridiculous.

    2. Maybot
      December 12, 2018

      52:48% for Remain will not solve this problem.

      Tell us what you really want to do. That’s cancel Brexit but make out it was The People’s idea.

    3. Adam
      December 12, 2018

      A 2nd Referendum would be backward, wanted only by losers.

  16. Bryan Harris
    December 12, 2018

    Now is not the time to be talking about a new referendum or any alternatives but leaving cleanly…

    Now is the time to show up the remoaner lies for what they, We should be laughing in their faces, and holding them up to ridicule – We should be out to convince those that sit in the HoC’s that they have been hoodwinked by the establishment….

    Let’s take the battle to the people that matter, and show them how wrong they have been in not supporting a clean Brexit.

  17. George Brooks
    December 12, 2018

    This whole mess has been caused by the PM’s total inability to negotiate and giving away all her ‘red lines’ and promises one after another. She must be deluded to think that a few warm words expressed by members of the EU will get this rotten deal through the HoC.

    I hope she resigns at PMQs today and then we can get on and leave the EU

    1. Andy
      December 12, 2018

      No – this whole mess is Brexit. It is what you all voted for.

      1. Edward2
        December 12, 2018

        You keep saying this like some odd mantra.
        We voted to leave the EU
        To become once again an independent nation.

        But it seems this will now not happen because the remain elite majority in Parliament want to stay in the EU

  18. Everhopeful
    December 12, 2018

    The rules have always been clear..the majority wins a democratic vote. Any deviation from that is anarchy.

    Creeping liberalism has not helped since it encourages the idea that there can be no winners.

    In any case the govt has reportedly spent £60k plus promoting “The Deal” on social media and referenda are extremely expensive. It needs all the tax payers cash it can lay its hands on for the EU pay off!! A bit hard for those of us who have put up with potholes and closed police stations.

    Unfortunately we know that the govt prefers to ignore the wishes of voters except when it suits. How it must curse whoever came up with those petitions ( was it Clegg?). Still, they have no problem dismissing thousands of people’s concerns ( Fireworks, U.N. Migration Pact) using the most dismissive language.

    If democracy ( as invented and described by the elite) were a reality we would already have left the EU and would now be negotiating trade deals.

    So much for casting our democratic votes! So much for “ The Voice of the People”.

  19. William
    December 12, 2018

    Dr. Redwood, now that a no confidence vote has passed, please do everything you can to ensure that only one Brexiteer is put forward that all of you can persuade yourselves to get behind. There needs to be coherent policy and teamwork, and absolutely no back stabbing. The last thing the country needs is for the leadership challenge to be lost and gift May another year.

    1. Timaction
      December 12, 2018

      Agreed. It is time for a true Brexiteer to lead us out of May’s dishonest mess of a non Withdrawal Agreement!

  20. BCL
    December 12, 2018

    Sorry, please delete second/duplicate attempt

  21. Narrow Shoulders
    December 12, 2018

    It has been said that many leave voters did so because they felt that the political process does not work for them and wanted to protest.

    What has happened in the interim to change their minds? Not much apart from seeing that politicians make things more difficult than they need be.

    Those calling for a second referendum are banking on fear of losing jobs to change people’s minds.

    When you have little to lose, putting it all on black is not a gamble. It is the vested interests whose protectionism and cronyism is at stake who have positions to lose.

    Yet more evidence that our “ruler” are disconnected from us.

  22. Pitfox
    December 12, 2018

    Suggestion for the the people’s vote question if the remainers think opinion has shifted:

    Should the United Kingdom have another referendum on whether to leave the EU or not?

    Answer 1: Yes

    Answer 2: No

    Just a thought 😉


  23. Ron Olden
    December 12, 2018

    It doesn’t matter whether a Referendum would be a violation of ‘past promises’.

    These ‘promises’ it appears, were made by a Government which left Office in 2016.

    There has also been a General Election since the Referendum Act was passed, and it’s a central principle of the UK Constitution, that no Parliament can bind its’ successors. If it could we would ceased to have Parliamentary Democracy.

    In fact no Parliament can even bind itself. The Crown in Parliament is Sovereign and can do as it likes. Full stop.

    The Supreme Court has also, ruled that the Referendum did not arrive at any ‘decision’. It gave ‘advice’.

    We are leaving the EU because, upon that ‘advice’, Parliament voted to invoke Article 50 and to enact the Brexit Act. The ‘decision’ to do so however, was wholly Parliament’s.

    The objection to another Referendum on whether we should stay in or not, is that we have already advised Parliament once.

    If Parliament thinks a previous one made a mistake in asking us for our advice, acting upon that advice, or that subsequent events have made the earlier decisions it took redundant, it can change its’ mind, vote to repeal the Brexit Act and vote to withdraw the Article 50 letter.

    The face the consequences at the next election.

    The objection to an advisory Referendum on the ‘Deal’ is that it’s Parliament’s job to make these decisions for us. That’s what we elect it for.

    We don’t have annual Referenda on whether to pass the Finance Act etc.

    If the public has to expend endless effort giving ‘advice’ like this, why are we wasting our time electing MPs and paying them nearly 80 Grand a year each, pensions for they they leave, and huge expenses, making total of around £200 Million year?

    That doesn’t include the cost of the building, and top of all that, The House of Lords alone is the second largest legislative chamber in the world.

    These Referenda are nothing more than scams for Parliament to avoid taking responsibility for decision making. Each one we have further diminishes Parliament’s legitimacy.

  24. Original Richard
    December 12, 2018

    We do not require a second referendum, the first one was decisive in both individual voter (52:48) and constituency (64:36) terms.

    The ordinary voters know that for them, unlike the elites, the ballot box is their only means of exercising power, of defending their rights and fighting for the future they want and that membership of the EU removes this power from them and gives it permanently to unelected and un-removable elites.

    The elites project fear did not work because they recognised that if the referendum had gone the other way the elites would have ensured that this would have been the last meaningful vote they ever had in their lives. The elites would have taken it as a mandate to sign them up to further EU integration and loss of sovereignty including the country’s loss of the control of its military.

    The only reason for the delay, chaos and confusion is because the elites, whether they be in Parliament or elsewhere, are fighting tooth and nail to thwart the referendum result.

    This is why the government, and the country, need to have a genuine leaver as PM.

  25. The PrangWizard
    December 12, 2018

    I imagine there will be a flood of ‘At Last!’ comments but at least we are there now.

    The question is will the threshold of 150 odd Conservative be reached. My guess, and of course my hope is that it will. I can’t imagine that those who have been on her side, and those who oppose Brexit too in whatever form they have been using and have hitherto indicated that they would vote for her previously, will not see that the game is up. There’s nothing for them to gain to vote for a loser.

    After all if she does win on the numbers, what then? Only more of the same as she is not someone who will change and the disaster will continue. Any honourable and sensible person would resign, but I don’t expect that of her. I don’t think she’s capable.

    The only course is to vote against her and elect a new PM. Whoever that is must deliver a clean Brexit, now is not the time for a compromise. The Withdrawal Agreement must be ditched in its entirety and we must leave free of all encumbrances.

  26. agricola9
    December 12, 2018

    Second referendum, 3rd referendum, what difference does it make, we still have a HoC that is total confusion when looked at as a single entity.

  27. Caterpillar
    December 12, 2018

    So the Conservatives at last have the opportunity to remove May, put in a Brexit and democracy champion (so not Gove) and prepare to leave. Don’t have a drawn out competition, don’t leave her in place (unless she comes back with a changed WA – no backstop, no 39bn, noECJ), just show that the UK is capable of achievement and get on and achieve. Walk the talk.

    1. Caterpillar
      December 12, 2018

      Javid and Hunt ruling themselves out as potential leaders by backing the PM at this important juncture. Tonight we will find out whether the Conservative party puts the EU or democracy first.

      1. oldtimer
        December 12, 2018

        …and its future status as a significant political force.

  28. ian
    December 12, 2018

    Not only is parliament trying to stop the UK leaving the EU with over 500 MPS wanting stay but so is southern Ireland with a backstop trade deal to be imposed on the UK in any deal with the EU.
    If it wasn’t for southern Ireland backstop parliament could have voted for a deal with the EU already, so not only do you have problems in parliament but also in Ireland carrying on the fight to unite the Island of Ireland still going, as you need all countries in the EU to do a agree trade deal with the EU, its not going happen because southern Ireland hold all the cards and can enforce the backstop on the UK.

    The way this can be sorted out is to have a ref in N. Ireland now if the DUP win the ref the UK leaves the EU and if southern Ireland wins the UK remain in the EU, if southern Ireland does not want a ref, then they take away the backstop, that will sane the whole UK having to go through another ref and sort the problem out.

  29. Javelin
    December 12, 2018

    Remaining would be a bigger disenfranchisement than when women got the vote.

    I have no doubt there would be general strikes, an attempt to raise Parliament to the ground and The Conservative Party would be replaced with a populist alternative.

    1. Maybot
      December 12, 2018


      I think all that will come but after the Corbyn government when people like me stop voting as Newmania and Andy advise.

  30. Sakara Gold
    December 12, 2018

    Sir Graham Brady has confirmed on the Today programme this morning that sufficient letters have now been received (15% 0f the parliamentary party) to trigger a party leadership challenge.

    In spite of Theresa May’s unseemly last minute grovelling across Europe yesterday, Merkel, Junker, Barnier and Tusk all confirmed that there would be no re-negotiation of their “Agreement” To her credit, the PM finally broke the ice and called Leo Varadkar (too late!) but to no avail

    The political choice is obvious. If the PM wins the leadership vote tonight, its more of the same, Article 50 will be delayed, Brexit will be prevented and the Gang of Four will have achieved their objective. If on the other hand she loses, there will be a leadership election, and we enter uncharted territory as everybody has to decide whether a leading brexiteer would be best to take us out of the EU (in accordance with the result of the referendum)
    or a remainer.

    I would support John Redwood should he decide to throw his hat into the ring. Our kind host is the best Prime Minister we never had and is clearly the right person to steer us through the next six months. Good luck, JR

  31. Maybot
    December 12, 2018

    Sod being a politician.

    My thanks to all those who are in it with the best of intentions, even if we disagree.

  32. Al
    December 12, 2018

    So, a second referendum on this? Then what about the Scottish referendum? Possibly the AV referendum? How about one on boundary changes? A Northern Irish referendum (apparently the elections to the Northern Irish Assembly don’t count). And then more referendums if these don’t go their way.

    You’d think there wasn’t a need for government at all, just a civil service to implement results. Of course, that would be the same civil service who tally the votes.

  33. Richard1
    December 12, 2018

    No change no chance. The Conservative party mustn’t make the same mistake as it did in 95 when Mr Major was left in post, by which time it was clear he would lead the party to a thumping defeat. We know Mrs May isn’t going even to ask the EU for an acceptable deal, so she has to go. No room for sentimentality, someone in a senior leadership position who doesn’t make the cut has to go.

  34. Alan Joyce
    December 12, 2018

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    I have just listened to the Prime Minister deliver her ‘back me’ pre-leadership speech outside the steps of 10 Downing Street.

    I’m not sure why she is allowed to use the trappings of state to advance her case to the People when it is not the People who will be voting. This is an internal party matter not a national one.

    In the long run I doubt it matters very much but it just struck me as rather odd.

  35. Brian Tomkinson
    December 12, 2018

    A second referendum would just show that the EU is still in control it is their modus operandi when they don’t get their own way.
    At last the requisite number has been reached to trigger a vote of no confidence in Mrs May. It should be clear to your colleagues that if she were to win and continue in office there is no way she will get her withdrawal agreement through Parliament whatever piece of paper she comes back with from Brussels. A new PM is needed to make progress with Brexit and other things.

  36. Leslie Singleton
    December 12, 2018

    Dear John–Maybe I missed it but, ready to believe anything on this mess as I am, I might have expected somebody to have said that we want a three (or more?) way question with the smaller (est) vote or votes dropping out till left with two. I agree any new referendum (as if the remainers gave a fig for what the people think) would be preposterous.

  37. Steve
    December 12, 2018

    At last !

    Though the arrogant woman still refuses to do the decent thing.

  38. Peter Parsons
    December 12, 2018

    “the winning proposal may only have 34% support? That would be a huge invitation for continued unhappiness and more debate over what a three way vote actually meant, and why the majority was thwarted.”

    I thought you were a big advocate of First Past The Post (although maybe you’ve finally seen the light), or it is only acceptable to thwart the majority when it benefits the Conservative Party such as in general elections? After all, if 34% is sufficient to deliver a “majority” government, why not a referendum outcome?

    Writing as someone committed to seeing the end of First Past The Post, I have problem with a three-way referendum. Just use the same voting system as for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. That way, you can have “leave on WTO terms”, “leave with the PM’s deal” and “remain” all on the ballot, and people like LBC presenter Iain Dale who I’ve heard say that he wants to leave on WTO terms, but would prefer remaining to the PM’s deal can vote exactly that position.

    1. Peter Parsons
      December 12, 2018

      *I have no problem with a three-way referendum*

    2. Edward2
      December 12, 2018

      Parliament need majorities to function.
      Our electoral system is not run on percentages of the total but on votes in constituencies giving rise to a locally elected MP.
      The party with the most MPs becomes the government.
      Referenda are very different.
      To have more than a binary choice in a referendum is silly and leads most probably to no overall majority for any one choice.

      1. Peter Parsons
        December 13, 2018

        Referendums with more than two choices are common in Switzerland (where referendums themselves are common). It’s perfectly possible and there are many examples of how it works. It’s not silly at all, it’s perfectly sensible.

        What’s silly is that 35.2% or 36.9% can be considered a majority when 40% and 42.4% are not.

        1. Edward2
          December 13, 2018

          It is silly.
          You get split votes.
          Rarely does a multiple choice referendum get one choice with over 50% of the votes.
          So opposition groups claim that only a certain percentage if the total possible voters took part and then they claim there us no real mandate for any particular result.
          Just as you are doing.

  39. cosmic
    December 12, 2018

    I’d say most of the second referendum/can’t have too much democracy crowd want a referendum question along the lines of:

    With respect to UK membership of the EU do you wish to:

    1) Remain.

    2) Not leave.

  40. John Stobart
    December 12, 2018

    I am not sure whether a vote of no confidence in the PM is a good idea. Let the postponed vote duly fail and then see what she has to say. Even she will recognise that there will be no more renegotiations. This leaves a Norway, Canada or no deal. She has already poured water on the first two. In this case we may just drift past 29th March without a deal which is what many of us want.

  41. a-tracy
    December 12, 2018

    What on earth was Mrs May dashing off to Europe for when she should have been meeting with all her MPs and leaders of the opposition parties. The EU had been quite clear on more than three occasions no change to their deal is on offer.

    Justine and others seem to only want a three-way choice to split the Leave into two then they’ll say remain won the vote. But if the two leave options are on the total Leave vote should be compared to the remaining vote.

  42. Michael O'S
    December 12, 2018

    Wow! you guys are in real trouble now..It’s hard to see how this is going to end..but with 1000 extra customs officers already recruited in Dublin, extra ships being chartered for the Rosslare to France run. Wow! it’s really going to happen.

  43. Adam
    December 12, 2018

    If Losers feel so attracted to the EU they should move to one of the 27 countries left behind.

  44. Turboterrier.
    December 12, 2018

    A second vote will only completely destroy what little bit of credibility that parliament has got left after the actions of the two faced politicians all in vast numbers supported the various debates through parliament in support of leaving the EU.

    If this is allowed to happen politicians in both houses will be treated with disrespect and be totally unworthy of any trust we may have had in them in the past

  45. oldwulf
    December 12, 2018

    I have to admit, when I heard of the recent attack on Parliament my first thought was, was it terror related or was it Brexit related.

  46. Alan
    December 12, 2018

    The narrative is that we voted once and that vote must be honoured. I voted to give the NHS £350m a weeks. Why isn’t the government honouring that?

    It is a farce to say that it would be a repeat of the first referendum. The first said we would be better off leaving. Now the truth is known I believe many people will vote differently

    1. Original Richard
      December 12, 2018

      “Why isn’t the government honouring that?”

      We haven’t left yet!

      And, to make matters worse, Mrs. May intends to give the EU a £39bn+ gift for nothing when there is no legal requirement to do so and the EU have yet to publish an invoice.

      1. Original Richard
        December 12, 2018

        In fact paying out money with no invoice or reason is either extortion or bribery.

  47. Fedupsoutherner
    December 12, 2018

    Hurray! Leadership contest. Let’s hope the Tory party have got their heads on and choose a Brexiteer. If not they won’t stand a chance in an election. Pray May fails to contest this.

  48. acorn
    December 12, 2018

    Another referendum, as you say JR, will probably come back with the same answer. Likewise, our general election system would probably return the same flock of MPs that we have now; sadly we don’t have non-partisan primary elections in the UK.

    Anyway, there would have to be two rounds for the referendum, otherwise, you would not get a “Condorcet Winner”. First round: Leave versus Remain. Possible Second round ERG’s No-Deal versus Mrs May’s Deal.

    PS. JR, when this mess is over please have a read of Bill Wiggin’s Electric Vehicles (Standardised Recharging) Bill 2017-19. Leaving everything to “the market” is going to leave the UK with a bugger’s muddle of charging/payment systems.

  49. BBCnot
    December 12, 2018

    Well a Second Referendum was about as predictable as rain and snow.

  50. Nicholas Murphy
    December 12, 2018

    The REAL PEOPLE’S VOTE took place on June 23rd, 2016. Having another one will be an affront to democracy.

    1. cosmic
      December 12, 2018

      No, that wasn’t The Real People’s Vote, because if it had been it would have resulted in remain. That much should be obvious.

      You see you can’t have too much democracy, until you get the right answer that is, and then the question is settled.

    2. Pitfox
      December 12, 2018


      And on that basis Daniel Hannan has a good idea: All leavers and remainers who now want to vote leave should boycott the “peoples vote” were it to take place.

      Then it would have a low turnout and a 99% + vote to remain in the EU result.

      This result would show it up to be exactly what it is: A perversion of the normal course of UK democracy orchestrated by the EU oligarchs and their accomplices in the UK establishment.

      Strange as it might seem, a refusal to vote in the ” Remoaners referendum” would be a vote for democracy.


    3. Hardlyever
      December 12, 2018

      Not so Nicholas, nearly three years will have passed since the 2016 referendum, now that we’ve had the debate the people are better informed and should be allowed to have a say again especially before parliament does more damage.

      Thing is that in three years a lot has changed, a of the old people who voted to leave will have died off by now, probably 15 per cent of the voter bloc, but in exchange we will have 15 per cent more young people voting for the first time and as it has to be all about their future, certainly there should be another vote

  51. ian
    December 12, 2018

    Mrs May said if she is voted out, Brexit will be delayed, she has already delayed a Brexit deal herself by negotiating a deal with Ireland backstop instead threating to walk away if not taken out of the WA and will continue to delay Brexit till she has her way to remain inside the EU or force parliament into the having the backstop in the WA.

  52. Dave Andrews
    December 12, 2018

    Serious point.

    We are told repeatedly, and quite rightly, that the ballot box and not violence is the way to effect change.

    What happens then when the ballot box doesn’t work?

    1. Turboterrier.
      December 12, 2018

      @ Dave Andrews

      What happens then when the ballot box doesn’t work?

      The same as that which is happening across the channel in Paris.

      Voters in quite a few of the 27 are getting restless with their governments and how they are operating. The whole EU could quite easily implode.

      I do hope so. Hopefully before we give them the £39bn

  53. nigel seymour
    December 12, 2018

    In light of the current situation a 2nd ref would not be a disaster but just another go at upholding democracy in this Great Britain and NI. I am a staunch leaver and want us to just leave on WTO terms. We can then set our stall out with the EU and negotiate a FTA if they so wish.
    Any ref question should be:
    Do you want to leave the EU? or Do you want to stay in the EU?

    Sound familiar…

  54. a-tracy
    December 12, 2018

    Tom Watson says the Euroscepticism in the Tory ranks has devoured Thatcher, Major (not sure about that) and Cameron (well he was just a quitter), I’d ask well don’t you think the only reason it didn’t devour Blair and Brown was they gave the EU everything they asked for with cherries on the top!

    1. Turboterrier.
      December 12, 2018

      @ a-tracy

      Blair and Brown was they gave the EU everything they asked for with cherries on the top!

      Absolutely correct

  55. a-tracy
    December 12, 2018

    Oh dear, this isn’t going to end well is it?

    I don’t think Soubry and Hammond realise that when they insult MPs that represent a good percentage of the membership’s opinion they insult the public too. Soubry has said the “wretched people can’t face up to Brexit reality.” When it is she who can’t face up to Leave and is nigh on hysterical for the past couple of years!

    “Philip Hammond has just called Brexiteers ‘extremists’ – says vote tonight will ‘flush them out’ #peaceandharmony”

    If Brexiteers are extremists and no longer welcome in the Tory party this is a very slippery slope, the aim of the large political parties is to keep both wings balanced, should you try to cut off one wing and tip too far the other way then it is doomed.

    For May to bring back suspended MPs for the vote to save her own skin is beyond the pale.

  56. Stephen Berry
    December 12, 2018

    The referendum of 2016 said nothing about withdrawal from the EU being contingent on any sort of trade deal with the EU. It was (correctly) a straight in-out question. It would self-evidently have been absurd to link exit from the EU with a deal which, for obvious political reasons, Brussels would be so reluctant to give.

    Many people simply want the result of the 2016 referendum to be implemented. If we leave with a deal that’s OK. If we leave without one and revert to WTO rules that’s also OK and many people are beginning to see that this latter may well be the better solution. It would certainly save us a lot of money. The fact that Parliament is deadlocked is the responsibility of Parliament and no one else. This should not be used as an excuse to trigger a referendum to try to overturn the result of one which has already been held.

    Nor should the existing referendum be subverted by the device of a new referendum with three options, designed so obviously to split the Leave vote between those who would leave with a deal and those who are happy to leave, full stop. That would be shameful.

    Tory MPs would do well that they have been tasked with the job of taking us out of the EU. If they were to dishonour this historic responsibility or backslide in any way, they would not be easily forgiven by millions of our fellow citizens. In such circumstances the Tory Party would deservedly be swept from power, as has already happened with many of the established parties on mainland Europe.

  57. Fedupsoutherner
    December 12, 2018

    Oh well, that’s the next election lost and brexit is doomed.

  58. Turboterrier.
    December 12, 2018

    Tonight’s confidence vote has just lost us the next election and really getting out of the EU.

    JRM highlighted on the BBC that directly and indirectly the PM has a dedicated following of at least 200 of the party members working for her. The 117 ain’t going away and she may not be mortally wounded but she is badly hurt.

    Te only reason she has announced she will not be leader at he next GE is she knows we are going to slaughtered at the ballot box.

    1. Jeannie
      December 13, 2018

      I’m not sure about losing the next GE. Labour isn’t a palatable alternative with Corbyn at the helm. I suspect it will be a case of “none of the above” and a dismal turn-out, with many Leave voters feeling hurt and betrayed, and many Remain voters feeling bitter and alienated.

      I think most MPs are inclined to forget how little people want to care about the petty wranglings and manoeuvres of politicians. What people want is stable, competent government that on the whole creates conditions that improve daily life. All the Tories have to demonstrate is that they are more likely to do this better than “the other lot”. Unfortunately all the squabbling playground antics of the Tory MPs on the Brexit frontier is detracting greatly from the impression that the Tories are capable of doing anything competently. People watch in despair and frustration. That is what will lose the Tories the next GE if it’s not sorted out.

  59. Hardlyever
    December 12, 2018

    When this is all over there will be surely enough material there for historians and academics to keep them going for a thousand years

    1. fedupsoutherner
      December 13, 2018


      Not forgetting the comedians of who most will be MP’s.

  60. Fedupsoutherner
    December 12, 2018

    How can MPs support a deal that will tie us to the EU indefinitely? Is there no way we can ever leave? I find this thought frightening. What happens when the EU becomes a disaster zone? We’re still paying the EU for something that could be free to both sides. Its madness on a gigantic scale.

    December 13, 2018

    Mrs May once made a once popular joke indicating she thought a Trump supporter’s use of the term of “Alternative Fact” was stupid in that it is not a logical expression and does not have meaning. The PM is uneducated in Logic. It is in deed logical. She cannot and is not able and capable of speaking English properly, also.

  62. Jeannie
    December 13, 2018

    I agree it would be a disaster. If only the Tory government had done a better job negotiating a deal we wouldn’t be in this bind! Problem is no one in parliament seems to have a clue how to actually deliver what people voted. I don’t think any of us expected to be in this position today based on what we were told by the government and campaigns in 2016.

    The original referendum outcome should be respected but if government can’t deliver what the people asked for then the government needs to ask the people for clarification. I don’t see any way of doing that without a further referendum.

    It’s very sad but I fear this pickle will just turn more people off politics. Watching the Tories tear themselves to shreds is upsetting, when the only alternative is Corbyn. People want parliament to pull together and sort this mess out in the best interests of the whole country.

  63. Lindsay McDougall
    December 13, 2018

    Any second referendum must not be a repeat of the first and must include No Deal. Only a binary choice question would yield a conclusive answer. So let’s look at the available polling:

    No Deal vs Remain: This was the 2016 referendum choice and yielded 52%:48%.
    No Deal vs Mrs May’s deal: A recent Ipsos/Mori poll gave 60%:40% in favour of No Deal.

    No Deal vs the Norway option: I couldn’t find polling of a binary choice. However, I did find a report on the brexitcentral website of a telephone poll by IQR for Global Britain conducted between 8th and 10th October. 805 respondents were offered multiple choices:
    – 26% opted for a Canada style trade deal
    – 24% opted for WTO rules
    – 17% opted for No Deal
    – 6% opted for the Chequers Plan
    – 11% opted for Norway style EFTA/EEA membership
    – 15% opted for a second referendum
    These results were similar to a survey of 22,000 respondents in 44 Conservative marginals. A WTO rules exit would evolve into a Canada style trade agreement, so their combined 50% exceeds the 11% for the Norway option.

    In conclusion, No Deal is preferred to Remain, to Mrs May’s deal and the Norway option.

    A major objection to a second referendum is that it would not be ready before 29th March 2019.

  64. William Blunn
    December 14, 2018

    It’s not a second referendum.

    It’s just a referendum.

    Recall that the 2016 referendum was couched as a simply majority with an advisory result. This was an opinion poll on the public about whether the public had appetite for leaving the EU. The result of that was a whisker in favour of looking the idea. So for two years, the government has looked into it and negotiated a (partial) deal for leaving the EU.

    So now the government can go back to the people and say “OK people, we’ve done what you asked. We looked into it. Turns out, we can leave the EU, on certain terms. OK. We’ve prepared a summary document explaining the major points and ramifications. Please read this, and let us know if you want to go ahead with it. Since this will require a constitutional change to the United Kingdom, we will require a supermajority in order to go ahead with it.”

    It’s a completely different question.

    If your frame of reference is “referenda held in the UK since 22 June 2016”, then yes, this would be the second referendum.

    If your frame of reference is “referenda held in the UK on the subject of EU membership”, then this would be the third referendum, the first having been held on 5 June 1975.

    Every argument made AGAINST a new referendum is specious, intellectually dishonest, and/or based on one or more logical fallacies and easily argued away.

    Every argument made FOR a new referendum is completely reasonable and deeply well-founded and easily stands up to any question.

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