British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, a top leader in the Conservative Party, and potential successor to outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron, today suggested that a second referendum on the withdrawal from the European Union was possible once the government brokered a new deal with the European Union leadership.
Hunt, who detailed his plan in the Daily Telegraph, insisting that the voters had spoken and the move toward the Brexit needed to go forward, but insisting that a “clear-headed” effort to negotiate the exact terms under which the departure would happen was needed, and that the deal itself should be presented to the voters too, either as a referendum itself, or as part of the Conservative manifesto.
He advocated negotiating a “Norway plus” option, ensuring that Britain would remain part of the European Economic Area, effectively the EU inner market, while recovering control over its borders and other issues that come with leaving the EU.
Hunt cautioned against invoking Article 50 to withdraw from the EU right away, saying that would limit negotiations to two years, and that however long it takes, he believed the EU would ultimately agree to such a deal because Britain is an important economic partner for them.
How the second referendum would work isn’t entirely clear, though it appears to boil down to a yes or no vote for the negotiated terms, once reached, which if voted down would amount to a continuation of Britain’s EU membership by default.
This would also, however, mean nothing would happen until such a deal was in place to hold a second referendum, and an inability to reach such an agreement would itself mean a continuation of Britain’s membership in the EU, again by default.