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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Jan/Feb 2019 > Letters


A second referendum

In June 2016 voters had two choices, but one of them was not clearly defined. Leave could mean staying in the customs union and single market, or not. Leave could mean fewer Poles and more South Asians, or no more “foreign” faces at all, as Nigel Farage’s anti-migrant poster implied. Today, the blanks are only partly filled in, but voters now understand the isolation to which we are exposed.

Timothy Garton Ash is right that there needs to be another referendum (“Pulling back from the brink,” December) but we cannot make a referendum conditional on EU reform. We can hope to push for reform from the inside, but British politicians cannot promise it. Instead, they must now succeed where David Cameron and George Osborne failed and show the public exactly what a seat at the European table has meant in terms of British influence. A new referendum could then give us the chance to stay there.

Schona Jolly, Cloisters Chambers

Balance of power

David Allen Green notes correctly that, once triggered, Article 50 shifts the balance of power away from the departing member state (“The Brexit endgame,” December). But for this very reason, it seems inconceivable that the EU would change tack and allow the UK to start negotiations from scratch, even if we asked. Under Article 50, the EU effectively controls the timetable.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s January/February double issue: A host of writers and personalities explain what they think will be the most important thing we need to learn in the new year. From Justin Welby arguing for new emphasis on learning to forgive and Lord Neuberger on the importance of a free judiciary to Hannah Fry on AI and Cathy Newman on what happens next for #MeToo—Prospect has it all. Elsewhere in the issue: Fintan O’Toole looks at Brexit from an Irish perspective, Wendell Steavenson dishes the dirt on what really happens to the waste you want to recycle, Frank Close questions why—half a century after our last visit—we’ve not been back to the Moon. Also, Michael Blastland argues that we’re ignoring the upsides of having an alcoholic drink and Clive James explores the life of Philip Larkin.