Monday, 28 November 2016

The IDS petard

Over the weekend, one ex-Tory leader (Iain Duncan Smith) laid into another (John Major) after the latter suggested that a second referendum could be held on Brexit once the details are clear.  IDS’ argument, as I understand it, is that a vote has been taken and that should be final.
The problem for IDS in taking that line is that there was a previous vote on membership of the EU back in 1975, but rather than accepting the result of that vote he has himself spent many years arguing that the decision should be reversed.  Votes are only ‘final’, it seems, when they produce the ‘right’ answer.
Now it might be argued that that isn’t a fair comparison, either because (a) it was a long time ago, or (b) things have changed since then.  And I would consider that the second of those, at least, is an entirely fair argument and a reasonable justification for seeking a new vote on the question.  I’m a lot less convinced that the mere passage of time justifies a new vote.  But even accepting only the second still opens up two more questions, on neither of which did IDS shed much light.  The first is ‘how much has to change before the situation is considered to be a new one?’ and the second is ‘who decides that anyway?’.
Clearly, the position he has taken over many years shows that he accepts that change in circumstances is a reasonable ground for re-opening a question, so the only argument he has left to deny a further opportunity is that the outcome of Brexit in reality will be little or no different from that which the electorate thought would be the case on 23rd June.  Until the final terms are known, it is at least theoretically possible that he could be proven right on that, but it looks extremely unlikely at this point.  And a major part of that unlikelihood is the direct result of the untruths he and others told about the outcome of a leave vote…

1 comment:

Democritus said...

It's almost certainly a hypothetical argument as unless A50 is reversible both legally and politically then remaining on the current terms (Euro & Schengen opt-outs, Budget rebate etc) isn't going to be possible come March. The only real choice, such as it is, will be between whatever settlement our government has been able to achieve or an ultra-hard Brexit with extreme prejudice; potentially requiring large scale exchange of populations.