Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
There has been some discussion as to whether a second referendum could be organised before March 29th., or whether an A.50 extension would be required. If you can organise a general election within 4 weeks, why not a referendum? In practice some debate on the options, wording and organisation of the referendum would be required together with the passing of enabling legislation by both Houses of Parliament. That may not be plain sailing (sorry - another maritime metaphor) if Corbyn and May can't agree, and a majority in Parliament may not be guaranteed without his support.

But assuming the required legislation can be passed before March 29th. I don't see the EU Council having a problem with agreeing an extension. Under the recent ECJ ruling, the UK could always threaten to revoke A.50 until the second referendum can be held. Mig has argued that any A.50 extension could only be until end April as the European elections with revised Parliamentary seat allocations take place in May.

However those seat allocation revisions could be reversed to enable the European elections to take place in the UK as well providing an opportunity for Remainers to demonstrate their numbers in support of pro-remain parties and counter-acting the "EU is undemocratic" narrative so beloved of Leavers. All  parties could also campaign on the basis of policies to reform the EU providing undecideds with an opportunity to argue they are considering voting for Remain on the basis that the EU will engage in a process of reform and not simply for the status quo ante.

Overall I would be optimistic that a second referendum could be carried by remain because the benefits of full membership and the disadvantages of all other options will have become much better known. I am still amazed that no one seems to be challenging Brexiteer memes  that "World Trade Organisation Rules" are a default and good option, when no one has ratified a WTO schedule of tariffs and quotas for the UK and Trump has been riding a coach-and-four through those rules anyway.

Other unchallenged Brexiteer memes include the mad notion that a UK one 6th. the size of the EU could negotiate better trade deals when they have no recent experience or expertise in doing so. The expertise demonstrated in negotiating with the EU should provide a clue. For many in the UK, the outcome of those negotiations have provided a rude awakening and while their pride has been hurt, a more pragmatic streak may well prevail.

Finally much of the original Brexit vote was an anti-establishment and anti-austerity vote which Brexiteers skillfully re-directed against the EU. Even the Daily Mail has softened its cough with a change of editor and there has also been a change of sentiment within the EU surrounding large scale immigration. Ironically anti-immigration voters will have more natural allies within the EU than ever before. The UK's economy has held up relatively well through all the pre-Brexit turmoil and this may have helped shore up the Leave voter preference but there are more and more signs of serious trouble ahead.

The longer this goes on the more older Leave voters are dying off to be replaced by younger, predominately Remain voters. That in itself could be sufficient to swing the vote, but I would be hopeful of a much more emphatic Remain vote than that - approaching the 67% Remain vote in the 1975 referendum - a vote which seems to have been largely forgotten in the current debate.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 7th, 2019 at 04:05:33 PM EST

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