Should Labour make bid to fend off Brexit?

Demonstrators have been waving EU flags outside the building hosting the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool ever since the start of the event. They hope the party will change its stance and seek to hold a new Brexit referendum. According to polls, 86 percent of party members back a new vote. Europe's commentators lament Brexit and the loss of Britain's former glory.

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The Evening Standard (GB) /

British only now discovering what Brexit means

Former British prime minister Tony Blair argues in favour of a new referendum in The Evening Standard:

“The case for the People's Vote is now overwhelming. The real betrayal of the country would be refusing it. … Our knowledge of what Brexit entails from the single market and customs union to the Irish border is vastly enlarged. Facts have replaced claims. … At a minimum, this thing has turned out to be much more complicated than anyone thought in June 2016. In these circumstances it is natural common sense to ask: in the light of all we know now, is the will of the British people still for Brexit or to remain part of Europe?”

Le Soir (BE) /

Remainers will benefit from Brexit

Brexit will exacerbate social inequality in Britain, writes London correspondent Marc Roche in Le Soir:

“The big winners of Brexit will undeniably be the 'remainers', who live in London and the south of England. They stand to prosper because Britain will advance faster than the EU in the knowledge economy and exploit its soft power, in particular the quality of its universities. The 'leavers', less well educated, less rich, less cosmopolitan, will lose out. Why won't there be a revolt on the part of those left behind? ... It's the British tradition: it's never had a revolution because inequality has always been accepted.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Britain falling apart as we look on

What has become of the once proud flagship that was Britain, Berlingske asks:

“Two years after the British EU vote cynical, small-minded power games are triumphing in London against the will to assume responsibility. It's sad to watch. Britain gave us a strong, liberal democracy. We will never forget the role of the British in the Second World War - and the words of Winston Churchill in the midst of the battle for England when the pilots of the Royal Air Force stood firm against the German airstrikes: 'Never was so much owed by so many to so few.' Churchill was right. Not only England was saved back then. But today there's not much left to see of a British leading role. We see a nation that is mutilating itself.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

The eternal dream of an isolated island

Volkskrant columnist Bert Wagendorp makes fun of the predictions of a golden era after Britain's exit from the EU:

“After a hard Brexit London will be British again. At last we'll be able to regale each other with stories about disgusting British food again, especially the crispy fried vomit in steak-and-kidney pie. Brexit will make Britain British again, and the British will be happy again: an isolated island where people dream sweet dreams of past glory and wallow in nostalgia. ... Perhaps the Premier League will be a truly English league once more, with long, pale tree trunks on the offensive and mean, toothless ball-slamming midfield players. ... The hard Brexit: unlike so many domesayers I see only winners.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A chance for a respite

Britain's political deck will be reshuffled if the Labour MPs really do demand a new referendum, the Süddeutsche Zeitung believes:

“Because even if the prime minister categorically rejects such a vote, Parliament, and not the government, decides whether the people will be called to the polls. With Labour's change of course a majority could be in favour of this move - which would of course suit Brussels just fine. At the same time it's undisputed that a second referendum also entails enormous risks. Its legitimation would be highly controversial; after all, the people have already had their say on the matter. ... The preparations would take months, although time is running out. Nevertheless, if it did come to this the Brexit in March 2019 would be postponed. Europe would have a respite, so to speak.”

The Sunday Times (GB) /

Only a Breturn referendum makes sense

The British should first get a taste of what life is like outside the EU before they vote on whether to join it again, The Sunday Times counsels:

“After a substantial period outside, such a referendum would not be fought on scare stories. Millions of Britons would have had the actual experience of being both in and out. And if, in a decade or so, a majority were convinced that Britain had been much better in, no sensible parliament would refuse to offer them the chance to vote on a proposal to Breturn. Indeed it is open to every political party to offer a 'Breturn' vote in their manifesto for the next, or any subsequent, general election.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Referendum only in Northern Ireland

The Irish Independent is against the idea of a general vote on Brexit but believes that at least the awkward issue of the Irish border could be solved by holding a referendum in which the people of Northern Ireland decide whether they want a customs union with the UK or the EU:

“The idea has obvious and serious downsides, most notably that it would further polarise an already polarised society, at least in the short term. But allowing the people of the North to decide the matter could legitimise whatever decision is eventually taken. … To be clear: a referendum in Northern Ireland is not a good idea. But in a dire situation when there are few good options, desperate measures can sometimes be necessary. A referendum may be the least bad option now.”