Referendum: Will the voters actually be answering a very different question?

Written by Alexander Kirk-Wilson on .


It used to be a truism that in a referendum many people answer a different question to the one on the ballot paper. Indeed the French, who had a number of referendums around issues of Algerian independence, often seemed to vote on whether or not they trusted de Gaulle.

So it is with us. For many people it seems that the implicit question is "Do you think there are too many foreigners in Britain?" or "Could you ever vote for something supported by all three party leaders?" So they will vote to leave the European Union.

The former question is only tangentially linked to EU membership; the latter question invites the sort of two-fingered gesture that Donald Trump supporters are symbolically making at mainstream US politicians.

I fear that by answering a different question to the one on the ballot paper these people will diminish the world our children will grow up in, increase the likelihood of Europe reverting to a patchwork of competing nation states, and make them much poorer than if the European nations stick together.


Alexander Kirk Wilson