Citizens of the UK got a master class demonstrating how a potential referendum can be abused and become a political football. A 'promise' to hold a referendum about the country's future relationship with the EU was not worth the paper it is written on.
At present any referendum that is generously conceded by the governing class it is not really done in the full spirit of giving power to the people. That would only be the case if a referendum would be a permanent part of the political process or could be demanded to be held whenever a qualified number of citizens demand one.
Some may criticise that it is unfair that a small majority makes such a far-reaching decision which could bind the other half of the citizens to a policy their do not agree with.
This is a valid point and any referendum that has far-reaching implications, in particular about a constitutional matter, should require a more substantial quorum to make it binding.
This point conceded one would have to contend with the objection that all the decisions that led the UK to become deeper and deeper integrated into the EU should in turn also have been subjected to a referendum with an equally high quorum hurdle.
As matters stand, the citizens had hardly any say. Even the original referendum about joining the then EEC was based on promises that were never kept.
In any case a referendum is merely being used under duress or used as just another trick to push through policies that the 'Elites' want to pursue can be abused. This is the usual argument against Direct Democracy and while it has the ring of truth to it is is based on a wrong form of referendum.If politicians honestly want to return power to the citizens (or as they always claim: 'Listen to the People') they would not cling to their power and support Direct Democracy and introduce it as binding requirement when any significant political decision is made.