In dismissing the idea of allowing a second referendum on the final deal, the Brexit Secretary said that agreeing to hold a second referendum would be giving an incentive to the EU27 to negotiate a bad deal in the hope that the UK electorate would reject it. There’s potentially a grain of truth in that statement, of course – although, strictly speaking, it’s more of an argument against announcing any such referendum in advance rather than against actually holding one.
But I can think of an even better way of incentivising ‘the other side’ to offer only a bad deal. In essence, it consists of telling them in advance that there is no way that we are going to change our minds about leaving, whatever they offer, and that we’ll walk away with absolutely nothing unless they give us what we want. Faced with that sort of approach to negotiation, who wouldn’t feel incentivised to offer a bad deal?
Fortunately, it’s not an approach that the all-wise and all-knowing UK Government would even consider adopting, is it? Of course not; that would be almost as silly as adopting the traditional ‘British way’ of dealing with foreigners – threatening them with war if they don’t give us what we want.
The idea of a ‘Global Britain’ didn’t work out too well for much of the world last time round on my reading of history; I’m not exactly confident that its proponents have much idea about how to make it work this time round either.