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What is democracy and would a second referendum be anti-democratic?

Let’s be honest, Brexit is the one subject matter that has hardly been out of the news since the referendum back in June 2016. It has taken over our entire lives, and much of the population has become obsessed with all of the latest developments in the Brexit drama. We still don’t know what exactly will happen, but check out https://www.paddypower.com/politics/uk-brexit if you think you know what the end result will be.

With talk of the leave campaign breaking electoral law back in the 201

6 referendum, there have been demands from the remain campaign for a second referendum, particularly with the British population being more informed now than they were three years ago. These demands have been met with claims that to hold an informed referendum would be anti-democratic, but just how true would this be?

Definition

Democracy is defined as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.” The fact remains that while we were given a referendum, legally at least, the decision remains with our elected members of parliament and not with us, the public, directly.

Referendums and the unholy power they wield

Ken Clarke, the father of the house, has become something of a voice of reason amongst the Brexit chaos, and back in 2015, before the referendum had even took place, the backbencher was an outspoken critic of referendums.

Clarke, who has served under three different prime ministers, told parliament’s magazine ‘The House’: “Referendums have never settled anything. Unless they’re backed by a powerful dictator in the case of Mussolini or Napoleon.”

Discussing the 1975 referendum, in which the United Kingdom voted to remain a member of the European Community (Common Market), Clarke said: “I’ve taken part in a referendum in which the eurosceptics were soundly beaten, and within 12 months they were ignoring it and demanding we leave the EU, and when you asked what about the referendum – which they had demanded – they said ‘oh well the public had been deceived, the public had got it wrong’. And they have ever since.”

Referendums are never legally binding in the UK, only allowing the public to advise the government of the day as to their opinion on said matter. Following investigations into the leave campaigns, some were judged to have been in breach of electoral law, meaning if the referendum had been legally binding, the vote would have been null and void, and the whole thing would have had to run again.

Will the country ever reunite?

In what was a very close referendum, where 51.89% of those who turned out voted to leave and 48.11% voted to remain, the country was severely split and while leave may have won the referendum, they have failed to win the hearts and minds of those who voted to remain.

This is arguably their biggest mistake; not listening to almost half of the turnout about the direction the country is heading in. 17.4 million may have voted for a form of leaving the European Union, but that shouldn’t mean the voices of the 16.1 million who voted to remain should be discounted.

The country couldn’t be more divided. This referendum has broken families apart, created distance in once close friendships, and it’s hard to see any of this changing in the near future.

Although a second referendum might not completely heal these wounds, armed with more knowledge than in 2016, it’s hard to see why we shouldn’t have a second referendum. The problem with implementing the first one is that if we lose our favourable terms of membership to the EU, we might not get them back if the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

Another vote isn’t un-democratic; in fact, it’s far from it. An informed referendum could settle this debate once and for all. Should leave win, people who voted remain will have to accept the result, especially as it’ll be an informed one. Whether people like Nigel Farage would accept a vote to remain is another matter, given the former UKIP leader said that if remain won by 52% to 48% in 2016, it would be “unfinished business”.