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For the sake of British democracy, Brexit must proceed

March 29 will mark one of the most consequential days for the global economy in recent memory—the United Kingdom is scheduled to withdraw from the European Union (EU), sending the world’s fifth largest economy into a period of deep economic uncertainty.

Yet many pro-European lawmakers are determined to make sure that day never arrives. The Scottish National Party (SNP) and Liberal Democrats, two centre-left parties in the House of Commons, have called for a second referendum to be held in order to reverse the Brexit process altogether. And according to a recent poll conducted by the ESRC Party Members Project, 72 percent of Labour Party voters support the idea of a second referendum as well.

While this option could help Britain avoid the economic uncertainty that is sure to follow its separation from the EU, it would call into question the United Kingdom’s commitment to democracy and respecting the will of its voters. Just three years ago, 52 percent of the British people voted to leave the EU, regardless of whether or not there was a negotiated exit agreement reached between the two parties.

Unfortunately, the past three years, which were set out to be a period of negotiating Britain’s exit terms from the EU, have been a colossal waste of time. The governing Conservative Party has been marred by intraparty fighting between Brexit hardliners, who want a clean separation from the EU regardless of the economic consequences, and soft Brexiteers, who want to fulfill the will of the referendum while at the same time maintaining a close partnership with the EU. Meanwhile, the three main opposition parties, Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats, remain unified in opposition to any Brexit agreement reached between Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU. Given the slim parliamentary advantage held by the Conservatives, it is inevitable that March 29 will arrive without any exit agreement approved by the House of Commons.

The question facing the United Kingdom is whether it is better off abandoning the will of the voters or exiting the EU without any negotiated agreement. It’s clear that neither of these two options are preferable, as British Parliament failed in its duty to approve a sensible deal that would have mitigated the economic damage that will be done post-March 29. Some have called for the March 29 deadline to be postponed for several more months, but that would raise further questions as to the U.K.’s commitment to fulfilling Brexit, given the fact that the government couldn’t reach an agreement for three years.

And the Labour Party has called for a snap general election to be held in the event of a “no deal” exit scenario, yet the prospect of far-left Prime Minister Corbyn, who has been marred by controversies surrounding anti-Semitism, would further rattle the markets post-March 29.

Ultimately, May, in spite of facing constant criticism from those on the left and the far right for her negotiating tactics, has put Britain on the best path forward given the difficult circumstances. She has prepared “no deal” contingency plans in order to prepare the country for life outside of the EU, and has ruled out remaining in the EU, holding a second referendum, or postponing the March 29 exit deadline, each of which would represent a slap in the face to the 17.4 million Brits who voted to leave the EU, and call into question the value of holding free and fair elections in the future.

Reneging on Brexit would be the American equivalent of overturning the 2016 Presidential election as a result of the uncertainty surrounding Donald Trump, a frightening scenario that would have resulted in widespread violence throughout the country. Instead of moaning over their election loss and Russia’s election interference, Democrats spent the next two years organizing on the grassroots level, recruiting an impressive and diverse group of candidates on their way to capturing the House of Representatives last November.

Rather than betraying the will of the British people, the U.K. would be wise to accept the result of the referendum and part from the EU on March 29. It could then quickly iron out free trade agreements with the EU, United States, China and other major economies, restoring confidence in the global economy.

Ultimately, the short-term pain inflicted by certain election results is outmatched by the long-term benefits of democracy. As Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.”

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