By Zain Quareshi ’22 News Reporter
On Thursday October 17, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reached a deal with the European Union (EU) after weeks of negotiation on a possible relationship between the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU after “Brexit,” or British exit from the European Union. Two days later, the deal appeared before British Parliament but did not pass. Johnson was then required to ask the EU for a three month extension, further delaying a solution to the issue that has dominated British Politics since the June 2016 referendum, in which Britons said in a nationwide vote that the UK should leave the EU. That question has remained on the minds of millions of people across the EU and the UK these past three years. Should the British Prime Minister deliver the will of the British people, should there be another referendum, or should the UK government cancel “Brexit” all together? Though the UK ought to stay in the European Union, the best course of action for the government is to hold another referendum, giving Britons another chance to have their say.
According to Google Trends, the day after the Brexit referendum, the most popular search on Google was, “What does it mean to leave the EU?” and at number two was, “What is the EU?” Britons seemed to start doing their research after the polls were closed. Voters were also misled by many on the Leave campaign in the weeks leading to the referendum. The foul play conducted by the Leave campaign in addition to a lack of knowledge about the EU could have tipped the referendum in favor of separation in 2016. Because in 2016 Brexit was not as extensively covered by the British media as it is now, many campaigns were able to lie about what would result from voting either leave or remain without media scrutiny.
One such lie told by Vote Leave was that the British government would save £350 million each week, and the money would go towards the National Health Service, Britain’s universal version of Medicare. Thus, some people voted to leave the EU as they believed that their healthcare would improve; however, this was completely false. The British government was not paying £350 million each week to the EU, but even if it were true, the money it would hypothetically save would probably have been split between different government services. The NHS would most likely not benefit from Brexit at all. Today, however, British citizens are more knowledgeable about the European Union and Brexit, and therefore would likely make a more informed decision.
It seems that the past three years have changed the public’s opinion on the issue. According to a YouGov poll in May 2019, 44% of people wanted to remain in the EU, 42% wanted to leave the EU, and the other 14% didn’t know or didn’t vote. According to a Panelbase poll in October 2019, 49% chose to remain, 47% chose to leave, and 4% didn’t know or were undecided. In poll after poll, remain has held a lead over leave.
The Brexit referendum in 2016 was plagued by misinformation disseminated by Vote Leave and a general lack of knowledge on the part of the British public. Three years later, the people deserve another vote. Much has changed in that time, and the British people should have another chance to decide their future.