Many thanks Caroline --
One point of at least partial agreement. You write that, "before the vote, very few people kicked up a fuss about having it. Cameron, Corbyn, and Sturgeon presumably thought the British people would vote to remain, so they allowed it to go ahead."
course, many people did kick up a fuss. Many pro-Remain politicians
and experts signaled loudly and clearly the dangers of populist
adventurism at the polling stations, given the incalculable consequences
of Brexit. You're right of course that party leaders ignored those
warnings, though certainly not motivated by the country's best
interests. Cameron wanted to unify the Tory Party and Sturgeon was only
ever eying independence. As for Corbyn, would he even know how to
manage the budget of your local Frisbee team?
-- only partial agreement on your view about a second referendum.
First, from a legal standpoint, let's be clear. There is absolutely no
way any government can foreclose future legislation simply by tossing
around brochures with the inscription "This is your last chance,
folks!". Indeed what is even meant by "generation"? Does the present
"generation" end, say, at 4:36 am on Christmas 2028? Or 5:28 pm on St
George's Day 2043? Only in British politics could so many people take such a
gesture to be anything more than empty rhetoric. If final and
definitive law could be made simply by the government in power passing
around leaflets -- phrased in such open-ended terms -- Her Majesty's Stationery Office would be busy indeed. There is no such thing as irreversible legislation, except maybe in North Korea.
if your real point is about PR, namely, that the public would simply
resent it -- "Keep voting until you deliver the result we want" -- then,
yes, that's a plausible and a weighty objection. I'm tempted to
propose a Referendum About Having Another Referendum, simply to punish everyone for their stupidity.
You and I do probably agree, then, on the most important point. Ultimately, this all remains in Parliament's hands, including what I believe could be a wholly compelling and wholly dignified withdrawal of the Article 50 declaration. That's why I continue to insist on the democratic illegitimacy of the referendum. That point needs to be repeated as often as necessary, so that if Parliament does face an overriding case against exiting, then perhaps it can change course with greater confidence of the electorate.
Yours with trust eternal in the forces of boringly sober moderation,
Thank you both again for joining us, if I may pose one final question to each of you.