Much printing ink has been spilled to little effect over the now hopelessly entangled subject of Brexit, and will continue to be as far as the eye can see.
The finalisation of the withdrawal agreement with the EU in March may witness the end of Britain’s membership of the EU, but the arguments for and against will continue to invade our lives for an unforeseeable time thereafter, such is the nature of this wholly unsatisfactory exercise.
Recent letters in your pages have suggested that the 2016 EU referendum was no different basically from other binary referendums, which were honoured by the relevant governments, but this is not so.
The 2016 vote has proved overwhelmingly different in its outcomes and implications from the others, in terms of the turmoil and confusion created in its wake, and we are still caught up in its toils. If ever there was a good reason to hold a second clarifying vote, this is it.
We are most likely heading for a terminally indecisive end result as things stand, ie crashing out of the EU without a deal, when a perfectly appropriate alternative in the form of a new referendum is available and is fully justified. Better surely to head for a nearby lifeboat than to cling obstinately to the floating wreckage of what seems originally to have formed part of a grand venture.
It will be no good claiming that it was “a good idea at the time” when we find ourselves adrift in the shark-infested waters of self-imposed global isolation. Neither will it serve us well if we change our minds further down the line when we find ourselves diminished in the world order even if still afloat, and try to rejoin the mother ship on favourable terms.
One can imagine the unwelcome reaction to that, and the disillusionment that would follow. The New Year came in with its usual fireworks, but with a damp squib for the UK, even if the need for a distress flare may be discounted, for the present time at least. We shall merely be spectators in the show.