Wednesday 12 December 2018

Analysis: Farage wants a new vote? It's probably a bad idea

Former UKIP leader and current MEP Nigel Farage speaks with the media outside EU headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Former UKIP leader and current MEP Nigel Farage speaks with the media outside EU headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

HALLELUJAH… Nigel Farage wants a second Brexit referendum. That might be the reaction if you bluntly assessed the Ukip politician's comments yesterday - but in reality it's a case of wishful thinking.

Mr Farage, whose political relevance is threatened by Brexit, has taken a leaf out of the Trump book of staying in the headlines. "Maybe, just maybe," he said, "I'm reaching the point of thinking that we should have a second referendum ... on EU membership."

Many pro-Europeans jumped on his comments. Labour MP Chuka Umunna said: "For perhaps the first time in his life, Farage is making a valid point."

But the reality is Mr Farage was feeding his own ego. "I think if we had a second referendum on EU membership we'd kill it off for a generation. The percentage that would vote to leave next time would be very much bigger than it was last time round," he said.

Irish politicians have long supported the idea of a second vote that might be based in reality - but caution must prevail. Fianna Fáil's Brexit spokesman Stephen Donnelly said that while a second vote might seem positive, we should be wary. Mr Donnelly makes a valid point that while support for 'Remain' has grown in Northern Ireland, Scotland and London, the wider picture is unclear.

Fine Gael's Neale Richmond said: "The British people should vote again and they should vote on two clear options."

And therein lies the problem. What would the question be in a second referendum? If it's a straight 'Remain' or 'Leave', there's a risk a vote on principle will reinforce Brexit. If it's a referendum on the final EU deal, then a 'No' could lead to a disorderly exit and all that brings, including a hard Border.

Irish Independent

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