A 60-40 Referendum?

Willing forces could start now to campaign for a second vote on a 60-40 basis.

Whether or not there is an early general election depends on the arcane politics of the Conservative Party. Whether or not a new Labour leader emerges that is capable of articulating a properly positive case for Remain depends on the extra-parliamentary left. But willing forces could start now to campaign for a second vote on a 60-40 basis.

This would not be the retrospective tinkering with the rules that some have advocated.  It would only apply for a second vote. And crucially only Remain would have to get 60 percent. Anything less, and the original verdict would stand – Brexit would still prevail. The point would not be simply to overturn the Brexit vote. There would only be change if enough Brexit voters had changed their minds.

There are some signs that they may have done so already. Not the ill-informed mood of “Regrexit” or buyers’ remorse. But because Brexit leaders ditched their false prospectus so quickly, and because of Boris Johnson’s extraordinarily swift departure from the murder scene. And because Michael Gove seemed to be perfectly happy working with Johnson when it was a matter of sabotaging the country’s foreign policy future, but not when it came to the more important question of which of them should be prime minister.

The “project fear” campaign during the referendum was too hyperbolic, and many voters just tuned out. But the accumulation of real-world economic and political costs is different. And things will likely get worse. Some Brexit voters might welcome the chance for second thoughts. Others may not. But that could only be tested in a way that respected the original verdict.

How confident are Remain supporters that they could get 60 percent in a second vote? 55-45 might be an easier target, but would be less of a moral statement. But if Remain supporters think the case is as strong as they have been claiming, then why not?

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.


Senior Policy Fellow

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