I was hopeful on Thursday that we would vote remain. We always knew it would be close, that the country was split by this question of EU membership, but I honestly believed that we would wake up Friday morning with a remain victory.
Obviously, I’m heartbroken that remain didn’t win this referendum (since this was what I voted for). But that’s not why I want another referendum, or further negotiations with the EU to prevent this decision.
Here are my reasons why the Brexit result shouldn’t lead to major change within the UK and the EU:
The Small Margin of the Win
51.9% of voters want to leave the EU, while 48.1% want to remain. There was a difference of 1,269,501 votes. Sounds like a lot? With an electorate of 46.5 million, it’s not that much. Furthermore, the size of the electorate means that not even half of the people registered to vote wanted to leave the EU. While we can’t do anything about people who chose not to vote, their silence undermines the idea that half of the country want to leave the EU.
If this was a decision about something less serious, less permanant, then the percentages would be acceptable. But this is the biggest political decision any of us have been part of in a long time (perhaps even most of our lifetimes) and this decision cannot be reversed for a long time, if not ever. Such a decision should require a larger majority for it to have a clear democratic mandate.
Furthermore, Nigel Farage argued a small win would mean that the issue was not over. “In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way. If the remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it.” This should not only work one way, particulary when a vote to remain would not have implemented permanent change on the country.
A petition about the margin of the win required for change to be implemented has reached (at the time of writing) 3,231,066 signatures in three days. This can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131215. This is one of the most signed e-petitions ever created, this has to be taken into account by Parliament.
A Campaign Based on Lies
Ok, so not many people trust politicians. While some of us tried to tell people that what was being said might not be true, people still by and large believed a lot of the lies used in the Vote Leave campaign. Only a few hours after the win was announced Farage and the rest of the Leave Campaign were already back tracking on promises made and lies told.
The pledge, “let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week”, formed a major part of the Vote Leave campaign, and could potentially have been a major reason why a lot of voters crossed the leave box on Thursday.
Another key reason for a lot of voters was the issue of immigration. The idea of ‘taking our country back’, and controlling our own borders has been at the heart of the campaign. However, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan said: “Frankly, if people watching think that they have voted and there is now going to be zero immigration from the EU, they are going to be disappointed.”
With two of the major claims of the campaign now being backtracked and questioned, it seems implausible to claim that the decision to leave the EU was fairly made.
The campaign was confusing, full of lies, false promises and iffy estimations of what would/might happen. The lies mentioned above have lead to a lot of Leave voters claiming they regret their vote, and that if they could vote again, they would vote to remain within the EU.
“I was very disappointed about the result, even though I voted to leave, this morning I woke up and the reality did actually hit me. But if I had the opportunity to vote again, it would be to stay.”- Mandy
Perhaps Leave would still win, but given the revelations of lies and the uncertainty of Britain’s future, it would be interesting to see just how many people had changed their mind.
Currently, more than a hundred British ‘ex-pats’ (or as we’d call them if they were EU nationals living in Britain – immigrants) have claimed that they registered to vote within the EU referendum but failed to receive their postal votes.
While this is only a small number so far, this could potentially change the outcome of the referendum. If this is ignored this contradicts the entire idea of this being the ‘people’s’ decision, and it undermines the democracy within the UK.
No Representation of 16 & 17 year olds
After the results were announced, it became clear the younger voters voted to remain within the UK. That’s not why I’m claiming 16 & 17 year olds should be able to vote. I’ve always thought this. When I was 16 I was studying politics, educating my family on the politics of the UK without being able to vote myself. Within the Scottish referendum on independence, they were granted the vote. So why not the EU?
This isn’t a general election, when we get the chance to vote again in 5 years time. Which means these 16 and 17 year olds will never get the opportunity to vote on membership of the EU, a decision that could potentially change their whole lives.
“It’s very frustrating for me as a 17-year-old to see decisions being made by people who will, no doubt, die within the next ten years while I am unable to have a say. The future belongs to us, the youth.”
I’m not saying we need another referendum simply in the hope that Remain wins, and I’m not saying we need it now. What I’m saying is for a decision like this, the Government was right to turn to the people, because that gives their choice democratic legitimacy. But this vote failed to do that. Further negotiations with the EU need to be had, we need a clear picture of what lies ahead for us if we do leave the EU. And then we can make a fair decision.