Ever since the Brexit referendum in 2016, there have been two main arguments against going forward with Brexit. The first is that Brexit would have horrifying economic consequences, which is quite possibly true, but largely beside the point. The British people voted for it, and surely the British people have a right to lower economic growth, if they want it. I mean, 48 percent of them didn’t, of course, but the same complaint could be lodged against nearly any modern election; there’s almost always a sizable minority that bitterly opposes whatever the majority wants. If that’s grounds for ignoring the 2016 referendum, then it’s grounds for arguing that no government should ever do anything except periodically meet to declare National Puppies Are Cute Day.
Perhaps perceiving the troubling implications of this argument, most people ended up taking a related, but different tack: Voters were misled and confused, and we have an obligation to find out whether voters changed their minds before we do something irrevocable.
This, too, has a certain plausibility. Elections can be influenced by all sorts of ephemera, from weather to flu epidemics. And the Brexit referendum, in particular, was affected by some rather wild overpromising about the benefits, and underweighting of the costs, on the part of the Brexiteers. The past three years have given the lie to claims that Brexit would be simple, or yield a lot of savings that could be used to fund the National Health Service; it seems quite possible that some voters have changed their minds. And shouldn’t today’s voters count at least as much — more, really — than the voters of three years ago?