Why I didn’t go on the People’s March

Sign at the people's march

The People’s March, calling for another EU referendum, took place in London today. Half-a-million people are reported to have attended.*

Back in July 2016, in the wake of the referendum result, I wrote:

A referendum means the argument has been had, the specific question has been answered, and the matter has been settled.

It may be stubborn, even unsophisticated, but little has caused me to shift my view in the more than two years that have passed since I wrote that. Much as I wish it were not so, the UK is leaving the EU.

I was not then one of those on the streets today. It is not that I don’t agree with a large part of the case for another referendum. I agree that there is a strong argument that we, the public, now know more and can make a better-informed decision on Brexit.

I certainly agree that Brexit is not going well.  It is hardly like all my pre-referendum fears have been allayed. Quite the opposite. And yes, being a developed liberal democracy means no decision is cast in stone, unchangeable forevermore.

However, it does mean we have to accept it, properly, when we lose.

You only get one shot

Not only do I absolutely believe that Remainers would not have agreed to another vote if we had we won, but what would actually happen if Remain did win the second vote? Do we have another one to settle the tie? If Leave won, would we ask for yet another vote? Best of five?

This is politics, not a baseball series. You only tend to get one shot at winning. Given the importance, Remain should have run a better campaign. Indeed, if those people had put half the passion and organisational ability into the 2016 campaign as they have into the People’s March we might not be in this mess.

As Suzanne Moore put it in the Guardian:

Brexit was an act of transgression in terms of the articles of faith of liberal democracy – and it is this transgression that we need to address.

Waving offensive placards in central London at the People’s March does not help achieve that.

Politicians, commentators and government apparatchiks of all stripes need to listen and learn. We need to look across the pond to our friends in America and heal these wounds. Before it is too late.

*Apparently that number is now thought to be 700,000.


My first book "Not Buying It", looking at post-truth in media and politics, is being published by Unbound

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  1. Reconsindering a second referendum - Charlotte Henry

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