PPL academic dispels ‘myths’ in support of a People’s Vote

Reader in Political and Legal Theory, Dr. Alexander Brown, has written an article for the Huffington Post arguing against a second EU referendum. Brown, a regular contributor to the publication, attempts to debunk several ‘myths’ which he claims have collected around this campaign.

Brown links this to the referendum of 2016, in which he claims there were also examples of ‘half-truths’ being told in order to generate fear and uncertainty, and presents the parallel between those that believe a second referendum would ‘double-down’ on democracy, whereas their opponents believe that this decision would be profoundly undemocratic.

Brown told Concrete that he is by no means a ‘Conservative Brexiteer,’ with his political affiliation lying with the Labour Party. He also says that he is both an ‘internationalist’ and a ‘deeply committed democrat.’

He claims his article comes after following the arguments proposed in various media as well as at political meetings, rallies and marches over the last two years, although he believes that the movement has really gathered force in the last three months.

The most common justification for a People’s Vote lies in the belief that the majority of voters did not know what they were voting for. Brown suggests that voters still have little idea as to the sort of Brexit that they will be faced with, expressing apprehensions that the public will be demanding a third referendum in another two years’ time, and that a perceived loss of value in referendums could lead to a drop in voter turn-out in future cases.

Brown argues that voters knew what they were in for when they elected a Conservative majority government in the 2015 general election off the back of Conservative promises to hold a referendum, and that, whilst the referendum suffered from limitations and problems concerning the extent of the franchise and the phrasing of the question on the ballot-paper, a second referendum would likely face exactly the same issues, if not more.

He also suggests that there is not an overwhelmingly obvious change in public opinion enough to merit a second referendum, and that, in opposition to claims that the 2016 referendum did not provide a ‘clear answer,’ a small but definite majority of 51.9 percent voted in favour of leaving the EU.

Responding to a comment on the article from Dr Toby James, who suggests that a public vote is needed to break the ‘political deadlock,’ Brown proposed that, because the issue is a political rather than legal deadlock, the issue can be resolved without another referendum, stating: ‘old mother time will do that for us.’

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Jamie Hose

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May 2022
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