I GO into a restaurant, look at the menu and order a meal.

The meal arrives and I begin eating. A waiter arrives and asks: “Is everything okay with your meal?” At this point I can say either “yes” or maybe I can say that I ordered chicken but appear to have been served fish, ie, what I thought I had signed up to is not what I see on my plate.

We then negotiate on how to fix it and ultimately I can leave the restaurant on the basis that the contract I made has not been adhered to.

Those who argue that a second referendum would be a betrayal of the will of the people seem to ignore that fact that it will be the same people who will evaluate whether their expectations in the first referendum have been met.

The situation is better described as asking the people if what they ordered from the menu in 2016 matches what has arrived on their plate.

If we were to accept the ‘betrayal’ argument we would surely also have to accept that the 2016 referendum was a betrayal of the 1975 referendum which voted 67.2% to 32.8% to remain in the EU.

The basic principle of any democracy is that people have a right to be asked at regular intervals what their preferred direction of the country is.

Here we call them general elections. In 1974 we had two, one in February and one in October. I was around at the time and I don’t recall anyone saying that the October election was subverting the will of the people expressed in February.

What it was, in fact, was the implementation of a quote from American general George Patton who said: “You make plans according to your circumstances, if the circumstances change, you change your plans.”

Some also argue that it would be difficult to frame a question. This is not true but it does depend on how the vote is organised.

A single transferable vote would allow a range of options to be put forward. The three most obvious are (1) Do you wish to accept Mrs May’s Brexit deal? (2) Do you wish to leave without a deal? (3) Do you wish to revoke article 50?

If you wish to continue with ‘the deal’ you put that as your first choice but you may not want no-deal Brexit and you might choose to revoke Article 50 so put that as your second choice. Equally someone might opt for ‘leave with no deal’ but if not ‘leave with the deal on the table’. This would give everyone a chance to express their preference and a fallback position.

To those who argue that this would be too complicated, I say if you can’t get your head around a concept like a single transferable vote you should not be asked to evaluate the economic impact of a major treaty decision affecting the future prosperity of this country for the foreseeable future.

I am always worried by an argument which says the British electorate are too stupid to make decisions about their own future.

Transferable voting is not uncommon in the UK and many trade unions, among other organisations, use that system in their elections without any drama.

If parliament has clearly delivered on one point of clarity, it has shown with crystal clarity that it cannot decide on which way to go.

It is time to put the question back to the people.

To those who say it cannot be organised in time, a golden opportunity awaits.

If we opt for an extension to Article 50 we will be obliged to hold elections for the EU parliament.

If we are setting up for elections anyway, why not add the referendum?

Peter Hallmann