People on social media are saying the referendum is over. The public has spoken, Leave has won and now it’s time for all of us to pull together. It’s mainly Leave people making the argument. Of course they want to move on.
And the answer to them is: of course not. Are you mad?
The decision to go into Europe was decided by a referendum a long time ago. The Conservative Eurosceptics fought a decades-long rearguard action to over-turn the public vote.
If you are a Conservative voter and a Labour government is elected which promises to nationalise the banks, tax until the pips squeak, cancel Trident and pull the UK out of NATO, on day two do you say: we’ve had the vote, the public has decided, we all need to pull together and get behind this.
If you are a Labour voter and a Conservative government is elected promising to throw out all the EU employment laws, the environmental protection, the equality laws, do you say: we’ve had the vote, the public has decided, we all need to pull together and get behind this.
Again: are you mad?
This is how democracy works. This is what happens when you don’t live in a dictatorship. It’s messy. Decisions are made, and debated, and fought against, and there is never, ever a settled view.
And if you are aware of the long history of referenda, you will know that none of the arguments ever end – one of the big reasons why this way of reaching a decision is not optimal.
The boil is never lanced. Voices are never stilled.
Instead, wounds are opened up and they continue to fester for a long, long time. This is what happened in Scotland. This is what always happens.
The best thing that the victorious can do in this instance is shut up and enjoy their moment instead of trying to shut down the dissenting voices.
This argument will run and run. And quite rightly so.