Blair wants a second referendum because he fears that if Johnson should hold a general election and win a clear majority — and the Conservatives are well ahead of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, according to the latest polling — he might actually shove Brexit through. And Brexit cannot be allowed to happen because Brexit would not be normal. “The 2017 election,” Blair writes, “should warn us against confusing a normal election with the not-normal but enormous issue of Brexit.” You might counter that, in the thousand-year history of Britain, it’s fairly not-normal for the country to surrender its sovereignty over everything from criminal justice to immigration policy to regulatory minutiae. You might also argue that it’s fairly not-normal for a great country to simply ignore what its own voters clearly ordered because the elites don’t like it.
Ah, but there you’d be wrong! Christopher Caldwell pores over the anti-democratic European playbook in a superb essay in the Claremont Review of Books. In EU-land, it’s perfectly normal for referenda to be ignored. In 1992, voters in Denmark rejected the Maastricht Treaty, then they voted the proper way in 1993. Irish voters rejected the EU Treaty of Nice in 2001, then in 2002 were ushered back to the polls, when they voted in accordance with EU wishes. After Ireland rejected the Treaty of Lisbon in 2008, the voters returned to the polls to deliver the EU-desired result in 2009. “These do-overs had become a Europe-wide symbol of contempt for voters,” Caldwell writes. “And that is why Parliament voted overwhelmingly in March 2017 to validate the referendum, activate the E.U.’s Article 50, and fix the date for British withdrawal.” That date was March 29, 2019, which turned out not to be all that fixed after all. The currently mooted terms would delay Brexit at least another 90 days past October 31, pushing the saga into 2020.