Brian Monteith: Remain lost the Brexit vote - deal with it

A man protests against Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Getty
A man protests against Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Getty
Have your say

I am not a great fan of referendums, and I say that as someone who was involved in the Scottish campaigns of 1979, 1997 and 2014 – winning two and losing one. I missed the first Common Market referendum in 1975, but was actively involved in 2016. In the UK they have only been used for constitutional issues – which is probably why they have been hugely divisive.

If they were commonplace like they are in Switzerland or some American states, with their “propositions” to raise or cut taxes, legalise marijuana, or introduce compulsory seatbelts, then maybe they wouldn’t encourage division within families or between friends and colleagues that our referendums have.

But we are different – our epoch-making big issues become all-consuming and passionate and they can scar us, harming the harmony of society. Referendums should therefore be used sparingly and our politicians then left to get on with the job of delivering the result.

I certainly don’t want another independence referendum anytime soon, I see no need for it: we were told it was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to decide Scotland’s future and gave a resounding result to stay in the UK. It may be something we wish to revisit in a generation – which I take to mean about 25 years – but not yet, not now. Our Holyrood politicians should get on with their day job making our public services work rather than encouraging constant division between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

READ MORE: Brian Monteith: The case of the SNP dogs that did not bark

I certainly don’t want another EU referendum. We had a vote on ­Common Market membership in 1975 and waited another 41 years before deciding to revisit being in a “club” that had changed beyond all recognition.

We were told by David Cameron it would be our choice, that there would not be a second vote to change our minds and those terms were accepted in Parliament by an overwhelming majority. Just because the result went the “wrong” way for one half of the population does not justify submitting everyone to another vote.

Whether or not I was on the winning side I accepted the outcomes of 1979, 1997, 2014 and 2016 and never at any time thought, either before or after, there should be a rerun. Acceptance of the democratic outcome is part of life; you move on and deal with it, be it a referendum or a government election result.

It is patently obvious the people pushing a second EU referendum –like Tony Blair and Gary Lineker – are the very same people who have not accepted the result of the first one.

Their case for a second referendum is not because a great deal has changed but because they want us to reverse the outcome. This is highly dangerous. What if we voted to stay in the EU but on a smaller turnout of voters – say 14 million to 13 million – an outcome entirely possible as people will be so jaded with the whole thing. Would that be enough to overturn the votes of 17.4 million people who said we should leave?

Would that not give grounds for the losers to demand a third referendum? And, as is highly likely, we found that when arranging to go back into the EU we lost our financial rebate, that we would have to commit to the euro, that we were signed up to an EU army – would we be able to say “things have changed”, let’s have another vote?

The EU and foreign billionaires are funding campaigns demanding that we vote again. I think we took our decision after long campaigns and our MPs should now sort it out.

If they disagree on what to do then call an election and we can vote them in or boot them out, but a second ­referendum to overturn an earlier one? No thanks.