When David judged that he would be successful if he brought a referendum into the public, he chose not to make any plans for failing. Indeed the only department in Government that claims it planned for a Departure outcome was the Treasury and almost certainly the only reason they did so was to be able to produce a cost analysis for our departure so that we stood a better chance of voting to remain. So David and his team set out to destroy the impact of UKIP and achieve success over Labour and the Liberal Democrats by asking us for our opinion. It was a cunning plan as no one seriously expected the vote to go the way it did. That said at the early stages of the process the fact that Gove and Johnson decided to support the Leave campaign sent a major concern through Camerons mind but by then it was too late as the date was already set and his capability to pull back the process or introduce some credible referendum rules into the two campaigns was lost. One of the main reasons being that he and many other people in Parliament were convinced he would still win.
Had Cameron and his Cabinet held some meaningful discussions in late 2015 after they sobered up from their election win, or even before that in late 2014 as they prepared their manifesto that introduced the offer of a referendum they might have considered an impact assessment for what would happen if we voted to leave. It would have been at that point that the various scenarios would have been considered. The most obvious one of course is that given the Good Friday agreement, if we were to leave the EU, we would either need to persuade Eire to leave as well (as Boris attempted over this Summer) or to persuade Northern Ireland to become detached from the rest of the UK. The other elements including a scenario of what sort of deal we would seek to obtain from the EU would also have featured. They would also have considered how, if we voted to leave, the UK citizens living in the EU would feel if they were denied a vote and then were forced to move because of the outcome.
The fact that none of this happened explains why we are in the mess we are in. So when people like me call for a new form of referendum, it is not a wish to tell any of the people who voted to leave in 2016 they were wrong, although some of them could be a little more generous when it comes to remembering that they only represent around 30% of our nation and so their vote and their modest majority does not represent the whole of our society. However a new referendum preparation must take into account the fact that Theresa May attempted to put a customs barrier across Ireland and that Boris Johnson is attempting to put a customs barrier down the Irish Sea and both will fail to solve the problem which should have been considered at least four years, or perhaps even five years ago. Wherever we go next, it is clear that departing from the EU has an impact on our infrastructure and the infrastructure of Eire and unless these matters can be resolved our departure will continue to destroy our nation.