Britain should conduct a "do you really mean it?" second referendum on Brexit. Soon.
True, the British people indeed have spoken, voting to exit the European Union by 52-48 percent. By contrast in 1975, they voted to remain by a 2:1 margin. That's rather decisive. 52-48 percent, not so much. But, that is not the main reason for a do-over.
Equally true, the world has replied by decisively tanking markets by $2.1 Trillion in the first day alone, fleeing the British pound, and through a series of congratulations from likes of Vladimir Putin, the Iran Mullahs and Donald Trump, a trio that can make one feel confident that one has done the right thing.
The "Leave" campaign has also spoken, reneging on its promises of £350 million per week to be freed now to invest in the National Health Service and stating that immigration laws will not change. They lied during the campaign.
Scotland and Northern Ireland are speaking. As EU membership was a major factor in Scotland voting to remain in the United Kingdom, a fresh referendum is now inevitable. The push for a united Ireland referendum will become irresistible--what are they going to do, re-install the border control between the Republic and Northern Ireland?
Most importantly, the British people have awakened to a chilling reality: the disdained experts, whom a "Leave" leader declared everyone was tired of hearing from, were right. Couple that with reports of frantic googling by British citizens trying to learn what the EU that they just voted to leave actually is, and the case for a "do-over" becomes compelling.
Why should the British be stuck with a decision they now know is worse than they allowed themselves to believe, that was based on flagrant lies, and about which they had insufficient understanding when it is perfectly possible to have a "do-over"?
If the vote were for a particular office, then constituents have power during his or her tenure to influence how that individual conducts the office. The officeholder can be held accountable for promises and failure to execute. And, arguably at least, the officeholder has earned a right to that office by virtue of the vote that a second vote may take away.
Brexit is quite different. There is no post-hoc opportunity to influence the outcome, and there is no one who has earned any right to any office. There is no accountability. If it were "leave" on June 23, 2016, it would be just as proper to say, "we have had second thoughts and want to stay", on August 15, 2016, or reaffirm that "leave" it is.
Is it inherently unfair to re-do a vote until one gets the desired outcome for one side? Yes. Is it unfair to re-do a vote when the country was lied to, and the implications of the decision were wrongly discounted, and when none of the protagonists can be held accountable?
No, that is not unfair. But, to make it less contentious, overturning the prior vote in a new referendum might require 55% majority to remain, and at least the same total number of votes as "leave" received in the first vote. That is, it should be definitive and a clear admission of "mistake".
David Cameron must still go. He risked the country, he risked world stability,risked western security with a little ploy to keep himself in power during the last election.
The British public should have another "go" at this. It no longer needs the disdained experts to help them with their choices, because they now know from direct experience what "Leave" entails.
If they reverse themselves, the first vote will have been enough of a shock so that the EU reforms itself -- with Britain on the inside shaping those changes.
For everyone's sake, let us have a Brexit do-over.