Rumours about the possibility of a second Brexit vote ebb and flow. But should the people have been given a say in such a big decision affecting the nation and its future? What does the Torah say about this?
In the Bible, people have had a great say in their leaders’ choices: Moses was petitioned by the daughters of Jethro for an inheritance and also by the mourners, who were unable to practise the Passover and these popular petitions created new laws.
In a later episode, Moses sent out spies to the land even though it was securely promised by God himself, to reassure the people and make sure that the future expedition received democratic approval through their elected princes.
Even King Saul’s son, Jonathan, condemned to death by his father, was reprieved because the people insisted on it.
However, in the case of the Brexit campaign, one may claim the electorate was bamboozled and led astray by misinformation, perhaps on both sides, regarding the true cost of leaving and the benefits to be had.
Therefore, the matter of mekach ta-ut could apply here. If a person enters into a contract or other legal process based on information, there is a strong argument to correct the data informing the parties and vote again.
What is the remedy for this seemingly intractable situation? Perhaps a vote to ask the people whether they want a second vote.
Such a process is costly, but not wasteful. The next step would be to allow economists and not politicians to run the campaign.
Just as courts require experts before passing judgement, so the electorate need economists to inform them of the risks they are taking by voting one way or the other.
If this was a pension scheme, the FCA would have regulated it. Who was regulating the Brexit vote campaign?
- Rabbi Abel serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is padre to HM Armed Forces