Column: Should Britain Have A Fresh Referendum Over Brexit?

By Ashutosh Mishra

London: The mood in Britain seems to be changing. It is clearly turning against Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s obsession with Brexit, the deadline for which—October 31–is fast approaching. Johnson, who had said Britain will exit the European Union (EU) with or without a deal, seems to have softened a bit given the resistance to his plans but he clearly remains a Brexiteer.

But that is not the case with a large number of his countrymen who can foresee the perils of walking out of the EU without having taken adequate measures to ensure that there is least possible damage to the economy. It is a complex situation and Prime Minister’s offers to the EU leaders have been repeatedly rebuffed.

A prominent newspaper here has run an ‘exclusive’ report that says that Brits would now vote to stay in the EU. An analysis of 300 surveys, which it refers to as ‘poll-of-polls’, has shown that the country changed its stand on quitting the union after the June 2016 referendum and has stuck to that position.

One of the most striking findings of the survey analysis, according to the newspaper, is that 204 out of 226 polls since July 2017 have shown people in favour of Remain. This year, so far, just one poll in the series has put Leave ahead compared to 74 for staying in the EU.

The analysis, according to the paper, give a lie to the impression being sought to be created that Brexit is turning into a ‘ Parliament v the People.’ “ The polling evidence is concrete. The overwhelming majority of questions asking people if Brexit is right or wrong, or if they would now vote Remain or Leave, show a lead for Remain, and have done for over two years. The characterisation of the situation as People Vs Parliament doesn’t really stand up when public are split over Brexit. It is more a case of half the public vs half of Parliament,” one of the members of the analysis group was quoted as saying by the paper.

The findings have come at a time when the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum has announced details of its “ Together for the Final Say” march on October 19. On that day, when an emergency sitting of Parliament is set to be held after an EU summit in Brussels on Brexit crisis, thousands of people are expected to join the demonstration which would be one of the biggest in the country’s recent political history.

While Prime Minister, Boris Johnson continues to stick to his vow that the UK would move away from EU “ do or die” by October 31 the mood in the country clearly does not favour his decision, certainly not in a situation where there is so much of uncertainty over the fall-out of the move. “ Confronted with the reality of Boris Johnson’s destructive Brexit, more votes than ever before now say that the only way to solve this mess is to put the question back to the people,” Labour MP David Lammy was quoted as saying by one of the newspapers. The chorus for a fresh referendum is getting louder.

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