The debate over a second Brexit referendum


BRITAIN’S referendum to exit the European Union in 2016 was supposed to settle the question of Britain’s future relations with Europe. It hasn’t quite turned out that way. As the risk of a no-deal Brexit grows, so have calls for a second referendum on the issue. 

The Economist is not neutral on this issue; we believe that a second vote is the best way out of the Brexit mess. But it is not a decision to be taken lightly. As part of our Open Future initiative, which aims to spur civil conversation on critical issues, we have invited people on both side of the debate, as well as a few observers of it, to argue their case and to clarify issues. 

The series begins with two commentaries. Hugo Dixon, an entrepreneur, former journalist and anti-Brexit campaigner, writes in favour of a new referendum (here). Henry Newman, the director of Open Europe, a think-tank, argues against it (here). 

New commentaries will be published daily over the course of next week. On Monday pieces will appear from Justine Greening MP (for) and Nicky Morgan MP (against). 

Other contributors will include L. Alan Winters of the University of Sussex, Anand Menon of King’s College London, Alan Renwick of University College London, Robert Saunders of Queen Mary University of London, and Peter Kellner, a former president of YouGov, a polling group. Michael Ignatieff, a political writer, former Canadian politician and current president of Central European University in Budapest, will look at what referendums mean for the civic unity of a country.

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