Cheating Britain Out of Europe
In the name of democracy, British voters have been denied any chance to reconsider the outcome of last year's referendum on leaving the EU. And the snap election that Prime Minister Theresa May has called for June 8 all but guarantees that the Brexit they get will not be the one that most thought they were supporting.
LONDON – Several months ago, I predicted that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government would fall by next month, when the British people realized that the “soft Brexit” they had been promised was impossible. How wrong I was! May has now called an early election, which she is tipped to win easily.
As it turns out, May herself realized what would happen if people discussed and disputed her Brexit plans. So she crafted a political strategy that would keep the Brexit debate from opening up again. This meant never allowing a popular (or even parliamentary) vote on what kind of Brexit May’s government should pursue, let alone a second vote on whether Brexit should happen at all.
But it was clearly stated that last June’s referendum on Britain’s European Union membership was merely consultative and not binding on parliament. Moreover, the various Brexit options were never discussed as alternatives – much less voted upon – during the referendum campaign.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one to read two commentaries for free? Log in