Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews No Holds Barred

Margaret McCartney: Our messy divorce from the EU

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 24 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3551

Validity of the Referendum Result

How valid is a difference of 48% to 52% in the referendum result? Given the fluctuation of sentiment from day to day, the vagaries of the weather, not to mention that some early postal voters have now woken up to the reality of what Brexit means and changed their minds, to base an epic decision on such a slender majority on a particular day seems ridiculous.

For assisted suicide, a clear and settled intention is an essential requirement. Brexit should have specified a similar condition.

The referendum is not legally binding, has yet to be ratified by parliament and Nigel Farage himself urged a second referendum if the result was close (when he was losing, anyway) . Angela Merkel is quoted as saying we should be allowed a re-think. Meantime the petition for a second referendum has acquired over three million signatures, and will probably be debated in parliament.

Any second referendum currently seems unlikely, but the settled intention argument merits consideration.

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 June 2016
John R. King
Retired psychiatrist
Redditch, Worcestershire