Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Theresa May brexit Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Cheating Britain Out of Europe

In the name of democracy, British voters have been denied any chance to reconsider the outcome of last year's referendum on leaving the EU. And the snap election that Prime Minister Theresa May has called for June 8 all but guarantees that the Brexit they get will not be the one that most thought they were supporting.

LONDON – Several months ago, I predicted that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government would fall by next month, when the British people realized that the “soft Brexit” they had been promised was impossible. How wrong I was! May has now called an early election, which she is tipped to win easily.

As it turns out, May herself realized what would happen if people discussed and disputed her Brexit plans. So she crafted a political strategy that would keep the Brexit debate from opening up again. This meant never allowing a popular (or even parliamentary) vote on what kind of Brexit May’s government should pursue, let alone a second vote on whether Brexit should happen at all.

But it was clearly stated that last June’s referendum on Britain’s European Union membership was merely consultative and not binding on parliament. Moreover, the various Brexit options were never discussed as alternatives – much less voted upon – during the referendum campaign.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/jmWEY1y;
  1. op_twliu1_XinhuaXiao Yijiu via Getty Images_wuhancoronavirushospitaldoctor Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu via Getty Images
    Free to read

    Witnessing Wuhan

    Tracy Wen Liu

    While Chinese authorities have been projecting an image of national triumph over the COVID-19 outbreak there, the doctors and nurses on the front lines tell a different story. Having lived through hell, they see little to celebrate, much to mourn, and reason to remain fearful.

    9

Edit Newsletter Preferences