Is a People’s Vote the right way forward?

3 Oct 2018

 

 

It is fair to say that the government is handling Brexit in the worst way. Many feel that, regardless of achieving a deal with the European Union and Brussels, we should hold another referendum, this time on the terms of the final deal. That is, a referendum on accepting this deal, and whether or not we do ultimately stay or leave. Many wonder if the government will strike the poised deal, but with the Brexit secretary Dominic Raab warning the deadline of the end of October could be out of sight it sets the electorate up for wondering if Brexit is indeed the right decision for the UK.

 

‘Remainers’ who want a second referendum believe that even if we do leave the EU, we should stay aligned to the single market and customs union.  But the European Union has already dismissed this as ‘cherry picking’ in line with Theresa May’s disastrous ‘Chequers plan’.  It has clearly divided the electorate surrounding the issue.  We have a government who is 50/50 ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers’. And ultimately we have a Prime Minister who wanted to remain. The question remains, then, if her heart is even in the whole process anyway. Is that why she is making concessions, particularly surrounding the customs union in her Chequers plan?

 

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has already ruled that a second referendum should not take place, as it goes against what the British people voted for in 2016.  However, many ‘Remainers’ believe that the electorate did not necessarily understand what they were voting for, the consequences of potentially leaving the European Union and whether we have a strong relationship in terms of trade for instance.  Pro-remainer MPs such as Conservative Anna Soubry and Labour’s Chuka Umunna would like to see clarity from the government and hold a People’s Vote.  Regardless of this, the Prime Minister last week, spoke of her ‘respect’ for the EU and that Britain was not afraid to walk away from the negotiating table.

 

On my Twitter feed, I asked some of my followers what they thought of a People’s Vote on the final Brexit terms. It was clear that views were mixed. I am using their initials to protect identities.


DP said “we need a Brexit government; a Brexit Prime Minister and a robust plan to deal with negotiations and whether we should leave with no deal”.  AC said “I voted to leave so I think we are better off out; I just wish the government would leave the table with no deal”. DT said “I voted and campaigned for remain, both sides set out their visions, I am against a second vote”.  FM said “I voted Brexit but I feel the way the government is handling it we would probably be better off staying in the EU”.

 

 

 

In my opinion, a People’s Vote is the only suitable and justifiable way forward.  Never mind what is said, the government’s handling of Brexit is utterly shambolic and they are not sorting this phenomenon out once and for all. Constant question dodging and arguments helps nobody.  If there is a general election, it could change the landscape dramatically, but I do not think this will happen soon, perhaps after March 2019 when we leave the European Union. 

 

If a People’s Vote does take place, it should include the options of leaving or remaining a member of the European Union, or an option to call an election. Theresa May and her team clearly seems to be failing to get a ‘good deal’.  The only way a deal can be met is if the Northern Ireland border is resolved, with frictionless trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Similarly, many think that Scotland should be given another union referendum on whether it wishes to leave the United Kingdom when it leaves the European Union, and stay a member of the EU bloc.  Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, has already supported this approach of another Scottish-UK union referendum.

 

On the contrary, defendants of Brexit believe that another vote would be undemocratic.  This minority believe that the options were clear on the ballot paper and the government, and other parties and groups exclaimed what remaining or leaving the European Union would mean.  A further reason for the vote being undemocratic is that Parliament would not be as sovereign as it could be – most of our sovereignty currently lies with the European Union.  Freedom of movement was also a vital part of the 2016 referendum, with some ‘leavers’ wanting to ‘take back control’.  Concerning the argument that the electorate was misinformed about Brexit, on the ballot paper there was no talk of single market membership, the customs union, the European Court of Justice or freedom of movement

 

Whatever happens, it is clear that there are issues which need resolving, and whether the government is currently able to do this is questionable.

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