The British side is still looking for a uniform negotiating position which can stand up. However, so far, there is no sign of anything more than just mere empty phrases such as the UK calling on the EU to be „imaginative and creative“ in working towards a tailor-made solution, or „CETA Plus Plus Plus“. At the same time, the EU has been urged in fairly blunt terms to put forward proposals about how the future relationship with the UK might work. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond − who is in fact regarded as pro-Europe − has implied that the EU is a badly run club tending towards paranoia. To add to all the confusion, the discussion surrounding a second referendum about leaving the EU has started up again in the last few days.
This latest rekindling was triggered by comments made by former UKIP leader and passionate Brexit supporter Nigel Farage. According to him, a second referendum would make sense in order to silence the moaning and endless complaining of remain supporters and at the same time prevent a soft exit from the EU. Farage assumes that a second referendum would yield a much more decisive vote in favour of Brexit than was the case with the referendum in 2016. His political opponents have doubts about this. They see a chance of being able to reverse a historic mistake. In their opinion indications have meanwhile changed and the British electorate are now well aware of the complications involved in actually leaving the EU and the consequences. According to the latest opinion polls, however, there are doubts about whether a second referendum would in fact deliver a different verdict.
Even more important on the way to a potential second referendum is the fact that the conservative minority government under Prime Minister Theresa May does not currently give the impression that it would be happy with another referendum. Without its agreement, any thoughts of a referendum are likely to remain purely hypothetical. The government’s main argument is that to go against the „will of the people“ would be a dangerous step for democracy.
However, it is doubtful whether it is really their commitment to democracy which is holding Mrs. May and her party back from a second vote. The main problem is likely to be the fact that the already tight schedule for Brexit talks would be delayed further. In addition, it is very likely that the Prime Minister would have to lead a pro-Brexit campaign. In the best-case scenario, from her point of view, she could only maintain the status quo. In the worst-case scenario, which is by no means impossible, however, fresh elections would have to be called and Theresa May would definitely be out of a job. Consequently, as much as many in the UK would like to see a second referendum, given the circumstances, a fresh vote on whether or not to leave the EU is unlikely.