This question is different from Why doesn't the UK hold a second Brexit referendum to clarify what the public wants from Brexit? because that question is asking about voting on the form that Brexit would take, not checking if Britain actually wants Brexit or not.

An article from The Economist says that support for Brexit had dropped to below 50% by mid 2018 (45% Remain, 41% Leave). This gap is larger than the gap when Leave won the referendum. Interestingly, the graph shows support had returned to the same levels as 10 months before the referendum. It also appears that something in the campaigning was driving the Leave vote one or two months before the Referendum, and has since lost its influence, indicating that the Leave vote might have been artificially inflated by campaigning and not representative of what the public wants.

I know this graph doesn't show the data from the last nine months, but if the British people are no longer for Brexit (and maybe never truly wanted it), wouldn't it make sense to find out for sure and cancel Brexit?

  • A serious answer to this would require some kind of survey of MPs on the matter of their motivation. Suffice to say the 2nd referendum vote was defeated in Parliament: politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/… Mar 22, 2019 at 6:51
  • @gabriele Possibly not a duplicate. I'm not asking about what form Brexit should take, but about another yes/no vote.
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 23, 2019 at 10:14
  • @CJDennis If you read the details of the first question, I think you will agree that it also includes the scope of this question. The top answers are also quite similar. However, the real issue is that the matter of "a second referendum about Brexit", even with slightly different details, it will be perceived the same way by the general public. That is to say as a question about a second referendum. The answer is the same: it is a bad idea because it would lead to even more confusion and loss of legitimacy
    – gabriele
    Mar 23, 2019 at 17:31

2 Answers 2


The main argument is: It is not fair to ask the same question again and again and again until one gets the desired result. Imagine calling a referendum every day for the next month. Even if the country strongly favors leaving, chances are one of those days the vote will be for "remain". To claim that this indicates the country wants to stay, and terminate all the polls + remain in the EU, would not be fair. In the same way, once a party wins a general election, it stays in power until its term is up, not until opinion polls indicates it's going to lose a general election if one were called right now.

Something similar to this principle was invoked by John Bercow when he prevented Theresa May from putting her deal to a third vote.

NB: I not implying anything about your personal views on the topic, only that calling another referendum will be easily interpreted as the result of pro-remain bias regardless of what you/the politician's real intentions are.

  • 1
    @CJDennis opinion polls don't actually change government policy though.
    – Allure
    Mar 22, 2019 at 2:20
  • 2
    A few real world scenarios for comparison: a) my doctor takes my blood pressure. I'm worried about my blood pressure, so the result is very high. Is this an accurate measurement of my normal blood pressure? b) A dodgy salesman convinces me to sign a contract. There is a cooling-off period, and I change my mind and cancel the contract. c) A dodgy salesman convinces me to sign a contract. There is no cooling-off period, and I am stuck with it even though I changed my mind. Why should a snapshot of opinion be binding forever?
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 22, 2019 at 2:35
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    @CJDennis in this case, voters had plenty of time (several years) to think about how they wanted to vote before they actually decided. I'd therefore say the cooling-off period analogy breaks down. The blood pressure comparison doesn't hold completely either. The confounding variables are known, as well as how much worrying about something can affect your blood pressure. If your b.p. is normal, it should still not be in the range where it's dangerous.
    – Allure
    Mar 22, 2019 at 2:46
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    There is also a very good explanation of this in the first part of P.Manthe's answer in Why doesn't the UK hold a second Brexit referendum to clarify what the public wants from Brexit? Mar 22, 2019 at 8:11
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    @Allure To counter your point. People may have had years to think about it (although it seems that lots of people didn't think about it at all) but they almost certainly didn't understand the implications and complexity of the issue. They also may have voted for one thing (let's say soft Brexit) and are now faced with something else that they don't want. This is not even considering whether people were told outright lies before they voted.
    – Eric Nolan
    Mar 22, 2019 at 12:15

A referendum presents a number of problems for political parties.

They would be obliged to take an official position on it, and with any kind of binary choice that would divide their supporters. As we saw previously that tends to either drive people away or to alternative parties like UKIP.

They would also have to spend money supporting their chosen side, because supporting the losing side would look bad for them, and because it's an opportunity for promotion.

Chances are a general election would not be far behind too, given that the government had failed to deliver brexit by itself and May has already said she would resign in such a situation.

So Labour would be in a position of having divided their supporters and spent money on the referendum, only to be faced with a general election. The Tories would be in a position of having divided their supporters, spent money on the referendum, and either called or been forced to hold a general election via votes of no confidence and with a brand new leader, having just failed to deliver on their last manifesto and overseen three years of turmoil and frustration.

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