Back when the Brexit referendum result was announced, I (as a remainer) was reasonably content that we should have Brexit – and then start campaigning to rejoin the EU. But things have changed.
What has not changed (but is still worth reminding ourselves) is that the margin of victory was very narrow – the Leavers like to claim there is a clear mandate for leaving the EU. A mandate yes, but any referendum that is won by such a narrow margin is not exactly a “clear mandate”.
And it has become clear that the referendum campaigns were conducted in a way that was probably in violation of UK law – questionable funding sources, connections to some very dubious US ‘politicians’ and of course the Russian connection.
Various credible sources have indicated that Russian social media trollbots were very active during the lead up to the referendum.
Does this invalidate the referendum result? It would not be totally unreasonable to argue that it does – whilst disregarding the referendum could well be regarded as undemocratic, the level of interference in the referendum is also undemocratic.
But rather than concentrating on that, let us take a look at “no deal”. The referendum was not asking whether we should crash out of the EU with no deal; the implication was always that there would be some sort of deal to our benefit (although why the EU should agree to a deal favourable to the UK was always a bit questionable).
So all those who voted for Brexit were not necessarily voting for “Brexit under all circumstances”; they were voting for a Brexit with a beneficial deal. In these circumstances, it is more democratic to cancel Article 50 if no deal is possible – only extremists want a “no deal” Brexit.
Because that was the choice in the referendum – remain, or to leave with a decent deal – because all the leave campaigners were saying we would get a good deal.