Should there be a second Brexit referendum? | Letters

Readers air their views after Justine Greening said she believes other senior Conservative MPs also support the idea of a second referendum to end a likely parliamentary deadlock on Brexit

Justine Greening’s proposal for a re-run Brexit referendum (Report, 16 July) is commendable but her suggested three-way preferential voting scheme promises to be more obscure and confusing than the Brexit options themselves.

When considering adoption of proportional representation in the early 1990s, New Zealand ran two referendums in succession. The first was used to select a preferred approach to PR. The second was then a head-to-head contest between a single, favoured proportional approach and the pre-existing first-past-the-post system. Could there still be time to adopt a similar process to resolve the Brexit conundrum: hard v soft then a leave v remain play-off?
Philip Davies

• I assume that the question Justine Greening and her supporters wish to be put is not “Mrs May’s deal or WTO?” but “Mrs May’s deal or remain?”

However, it is a basic legal principle that notice once given cannot be withdrawn without the consent of those to whom it has been given. If Greening knows this, she presumably supposes that in the event of a remain victory the other 27 parties would agree to the withdrawal of the article 50 notice. She may well be right, but has she considered what conditions might be imposed on the grant of such consent? The withdrawal of the UK’s rebate and opt-outs spring to mind, including that from the obligation to join the euro. Would she then propose a third referendum on whether to accept those conditions?
Michael Jones
Worthing, West Sussex

• The UK is a parliamentary democracy and, just as I think David Cameron was hugely irresponsible to call a referendum on our EU membership, I think all calls since for a second referendum are equally misguided. It is the duty and responsibility of our elected MPs to govern and make decisions in the best interest of the country. It would wrong for parliament to outsource this momentous decision, with huge ramifications, to a popular vote. We elect MPs to take the long view. It is their role to grapple with the details, to examine the evidence, to challenge prejudices, to scrutinise legislation etc, and ultimately to decide on balance what is the most practical solution that is in the interest of us all.

And if the voters don’t like what the government decides, then they should kick them out at the next election. That is democracy.
John Boaler
Calne, Wiltshire

• Simon Jenkins (, 16 July) misses the point in claiming that Justine Greening’s call for a referendum “on the final negotiated deal” is wrong because “asking the electorate its opinion during a negotiation is absurd”.

A people’s vote on the final deal does not have to take place until the content of that deal is known. The exit deal (in the form of a treaty) is likely to have to been finalised at the European council in October because it has to be unanimously ratified in the UK parliament, the European parliament and the parliaments of the 27 other member states. In some states, regional parliaments have to approve it too. That will take time. There is also the possibility of legal challenges in any of the members states’ constitutional courts or in the European court of justice.

Negotiations cannot go over until the January European council as there would not be time for the parliamentary processes to complete. Therefore, by October we will have a clear idea whether there will be an exit deal and, if there is, what it says.

There is plenty of time between us all reading the text in October and it taking effect in March (assuming it is, in fact, ratified by all the member states) for the UK public to vote on whether we want to ratify it or would prefer another option, such as withdrawing the article 50 notice and staying in the EU.
Councillor Antony Hook
Faversham, Kent

• We may well have hit peak confusion over Brexit (Zoe Williams, 17 July) but over the last two years, the scariest part for me is hearing more and more comments to the effect that “we just have to get on with it”. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any cure for the British disease of “carry on regardless” (of the facts).
Hugh Whatley

• I read that Iain Duncan Smith “voted to leave, not to half leave”. Given the result of the referendum in which nearly half of us voted to remain, perhaps a half Brexit is the democratic way to honour the result of the referendum.
Mark Griffiths
Burton on Trent, Staffordshire

• I have some sympathy with the idea of a second referendum but, in all likelihood, the result would almost certainly be the same – approximately 50% for and 50% against. So, again, around half of the electorate would feel disenfranchised, discontent and angry. Such is the inevitable result of the first-past-the-post system. Sadly, there has been little or no recognition of this, and no suggestion that the outcome of any negotiated Brexit settlement should be more nuanced in order to reflect a more sensible analysis of the result of the referendum.
John Wright
Guildford, Surrey

• So the remain camp want another referendum, this time with three options. The one remain option stays as one, but the leave option becomes two different options. Result: 48% still votes remain, the 52% leave vote is split in two, remain wins. Brilliant!
Geoff Moore
Alness, Highlands

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