if Brexit means a European Economic Area deal (a so-called soft Brexit), it will be seen as a betrayal of working-class leave voters in favour of those in a City that wanted to remain. But if Brexit means instead a migration clampdown and little access to the single market (hard Brexit) it will fuel business’s demands for laxer regulation and lower business and personal tax regimes, creating an Irish-style regime outside the EU, with profoundly serious consequences for the poor as inequality widens and public spending is cut further.
None of these choices is either desirable or likely to be popular in the long run. It is why the Brexit vote was so serious. It is why, in the end, voters will have to pass a democratic verdict on what the government decides this winter. Whether that takes the eventual form of a second referendum or a defining election is not the immediate point. The point is that if Britain is to have a serious chance of being a country that works for everyone, there will have to be a different strategy, as well as a plausible alternative government to make it happen.