Instead of rushing Brexit, Europe’s leaders should be trying to avert it, by persuading British voters to change their minds. The aim should not be to negotiate the terms of departure, but to negotiate the terms on which most British voters would want to remain.
An EU strategy to avoid Brexit, far from ignoring British voters, would show genuine respect for democracy. The essence of democratic politics is responding to public dissatisfaction with policies and ideas – and then trying to change the judgment of voters. That is how numerous referendum outcomes – in France, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, and Greece – have been reversed, even when deeply emotional issues, such as abortion and divorce, were involved.
If European leaders tried the same approach with Britain, they might be surprised by the favorable response. Many Leave voters are already having second thoughts, and Prime Minister Theresa May’s uncompromising negotiating position will paradoxically accelerate this process, because voters now face a much more extreme version of Brexit than they were promised by the Leave campaign."