Caution! Referendum ahead!

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Already it is clear that whatever the eventual Brexit negotiations bring they will result in a much more complicated package than was envisaged before the referendum.

'Don't forget to vote' ballot box on Broad Quay in Bristol

‘Don’t forget to vote’ ballot box on Broad Quay. Photo: Philip HallingCC BY-SA 2.0

Political hubris aside, compromises as yet unknown will have to be found. Until then no-one knows whether we will be able to retain access to the Single Market, regain control over our borders, or any of the terms or conditions of our exit. Sooner or later, formally or informally, answers to these questions will emerge.  And when they do some voters will be delighted with the deal that Boris, Gove and their team have been able to extract, others will not – but nobody will be able to say that this was what they voted for, because as yet nobody knows what those terms are.

For democracy to be served after the conditions of our exit are clear voters on both sides must be allowed time to reflect and reconsider.  Inevitably some will want to change their minds – a perfectly respectable position given that the question put to us on June 23rd was so woefully unclear. They must be allowed to do so. Democracy cannot be built upon a question that was impossible to answer.

At that point for good or bad, for better or worse, for remain or leave, the British people must have the opportunity to endorse or reject those terms at a second referendum, particularly because of the closeness of the last vote. The merits and weaknesses of each case may well look different under the glare of reality.

It is impossible to imagine it otherwise.