Be A Voice: Labour’s Support for a Second Referendum

By Campaign Agent Eleanor Longman-Rood

Opponents of Theresa May have supported a second referendum throughout her time in office. This movement gained significant momentum after the ‘People’s March’ last October and it is now looking increasingly likely. It would be the ultimate failure for May one from which there would be no coming back. With the rejection of Labour’s new amendment in Parliament, Corbyn has broken his streak of ambiguity to publicly support this second vote. It is fundamental to set aside party agendas at this point to truly grasp what a second referendum would mean for Britain.


In recent years there has been greater scrutiny of how a message is presented, rather than its substance, meaning strategic statements are more important now than previously. Perhaps then, this new stance was a wise move from Corbyn in the long run. It is no secret that May and Corbyn aren't the most amicable political opponents that Westminster has seen. It is not a giant leap to assume that this impacted his decision to come out from the shadows of the Brexit narrative to support this vote. This new public voice Corbyn has found could offer him a sense of security looking forward to the next election. Being the opposition party in Britain allows you the luxury to announce policies and ideas that you may never have to implement if the next election does not fall in your favour. Corbyn can now woo the Europhiles in the Labour party he felt he was losing, while potentially never having to be held accountable.


But what if the ‘People’s Vote’ became reality and succeeded in overturning the original vote? If May’s greatest nightmare was to be realized, what may be hailed as a victory by Europhiles has serious implications. Reuters reported that negotiations on Brexit have had a vast economic impact, costing the country £500 million a week. If the people change their mind on Brexit in a second vote, is this money refunded to the taxpayer? Sadly, this seems highly unlikely and instead we are left with the realization that we have thrown money down the drain by discussing plans that will never materialize. Thus, if a second vote does not alter the referendum’s outcome more resources are then wasted on campaigns only to secure the same answer. There is no guarantee that a second vote on Brexit would give the country a different outcome.


While Britain has been focused on its own domestic chaos, we appear to have neglected what opinion the global community has of us. If we reverse our stance after a majority was gained in a legitimate public referendum this does not install a sense of confidence in British decision making. Stability is highly attractive to countries when looking for allies and trade partners; a quality which Britain does not currently possess. There is no guarantee of how long this second-guessing will continue for; if the public opinion is not accepted first time around for a referendum perhaps the next step is the question our electoral results? We would be increasingly seen as the nation who would go back on our word when matters get complex, or worse if we decide we don’t like the outcome. This is not a sustainable reputation, as no country wants to engage with a state that always changes its mind.


I cannot help but end at the conclusion that a greater developed political education is the answer to all of this. One of the greatest critiques of both the ‘Vote Leave’ and ‘Remain’ campaigns was the lack of sound facts. One the most searched questions on the internet on 24th June 2016 was “what is the EU?”. So, if we create more effective political education, perhaps we can rescue ourselves from such ignorance in the future. No matter how hard we ignore it, politics always affects our everyday lives and it is our duty to make ourselves more aware of the current events. Although, this could just be the political idealist within me envisioning a society that is far from the one we currently reside in. In the meantime, our energy should be refocused into preparing for the inevitable, not placing obstacles in front of it. Corbyn may well have made a second vote possible, but Britain must not learn the hard way that in politics, just because you can change the outcome of a decision, it does not mean it is right or justified.