Brexit isn’t a done deal. Here’s why

by Hugo Dixon | 14.04.2018

First we need a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal – and, if the public don’t like it, an option to stay in the EU. Then we need to win that vote.

We need a People’s Vote because that’s the most democratic way of stopping the madness. It wouldn’t be right for Parliament just to cancel Brexit.

The people said they wanted to quit the EU two years ago. It has to be their choice whether to go ahead once they see what Brexit means.

Theresa May triggered Article 50 last year, telling the EU that we intended to leave. But we are free to change our minds so long as we do so before March 29 next year, when the Article 50 clock stops ticking.

We don’t need the EU’s permission to do this. Nor would we lose any of our special privileges. We would keep our budget “rebate” which gives us a discount on our membership fee, and our opt-outs from the EU’s two problem areas, the euro and the border-free Schengen Area.

John Kerr, who wrote Article 50, is clear we can change our mind. So are legal experts in Brussels and the UK. We wouldn’t be like uninvited guests crashing a party either. EU leaders are sad we want to quit and would jump for joy if we decided to stay.

How do we get a People’s Vote?

To get a People’s Vote, Parliament will need to pass legislation calling for one. The good news is that most MPs know Brexit is against the national interest. The bad news is most lack the courage to say so because they think they have to follow the “people’s will”. What’s more, both the Tories and Labour are committed to Brexit; so individual MPs are under huge pressure to toe the party line.

We can, of course, persuade more MPs to put their heads above the parapet – as brave politicians such as Anna Soubry for the Tories and Chuka Umunna for Labour already are. We can also try to shift the official position of Labour and the SNP so they back a People’s Vote. If we got them as well as a dozen or more Tories on side, we’d probably have a majority in Parliament.

But argument alone is unlikely to persuade enough MPs to come out or Labour to change its position. We also need to mobilise the public to demand a People’s Vote. That would demolish the idea that we have to charge like lemmings over the cliff because that’s what the people want.

The electorate is already warming to the idea that we need a People’s Vote. If we can turn this into a clamour, Parliament will have to listen.

This is a big deal: the people must speak

How do we do get more people to speak out? By persuading them that this is such a big deal that it is worth focusing on Brexit even though most are sick and tired of the whole goddamn business.

A key plank of the argument is that new facts show that Brexit is not all it was cracked up to be. The most important new fact will be the Brexit deal the government negotiates. Although we don’t know the exact details yet, it is clear it’s going to be a miserable one. We will be poorer, not richer. We will lose, not take control.

If we can persuade the public to demand a People’s Vote, we will be in a good position to win it. After all, the electorate will already be well on the way to concluding that the Brexit deal is bad for our country.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

17 Responses to “Brexit isn’t a done deal. Here’s why”

  • I would argue that there is an indirect route to stop Brexit.

    1) Barnier said this week that Britain can still change it’s mind on remaining in the Single Market. I would argue that the EU27 will not accept any workable Brexit deal that does not include the entire UK remaining in the Single Market. Anyway it seems the minimum requirement to solving the Northern Ireland impasse, and Britain will inevitably be forced to consider it. I think the EU could try to make remaining in the Single Market more attractive, by offering something like the Liechtenstein exception on immigration control. Backing down on this previous red line will be hugely controversial with Brexiteers, and I’d argue that Remainers should throw their full weight behind this as the least bad option. To be honest, I think Remainers should be arguing for this option NOW.

    2) Britain will resist this option for as long as it can, so extending Article 50 is a must. After October, parliament will have a “meaningful vote” on the Brexit deal which almost certainly won’t be complete. Parliament should refuse to vote on the incomplete Brexit deal, and instead vote to extend Article 50.

    3) Assuming a Single Market solution is eventually part of the final Brexit deal, I’d argue that there’s a reasonable argument for a Second Referendum. Brexiteers have long argued that leaving the EU meant leaving the Single Market.

  • And is this really the best you can come up with Phil? ”Get over it”? So 2016 don’t you think? I guess you will happily accept any inferior deal or no deal at all irrespective of the harm they will do to Britain as long as you get what you thought you voted for.

  • For leavers, democracy stopped the day after the referendum. People aren’t allowed to reconsider or have a second chance. Hey, maybe we should have “stopped democracy” after the first referendum in 1975.

  • There is so much information coming out about fraudulent funding of Brexit-supporting organisations prior to the referendum that the referendum result surely has to be in doubt. However, as this gov. runs in terror from attacks by the Mail/Express etc., no rerun of the referendum is even possible.
    A graceful way out is to offer the population a genuine vote on the new T&Cs of Brexit, against staying in the EU. That is, no cliff-edge. We take the T&Cs or we stay. This should satisfy both sides, although the Brexiteers seem to be getting more and more frantic as their sad lies and exaggerations become clearer daily. They are terrified that by the time a final vote occurs all their promises will be revealed for what they secretly know they are. Just lies to support their hatred of Europe.

  • Ian it may be surprising to you that having owned a firm in GERMANY and suffered almost 20% import costs to protect primarily german and French manufacturers I am more than happy to get out. It will be the making of British industry and a massive headache for eu 27. I have absolutely no fear for the uk economy or my employees.

  • Brexit was an unimformed emotional vote to leave where the remain vote was factual and predicting what was going to happen.

    remainers arnt arguing amongst themselves we leave that to the brexiteers who change the goal posts every week when reality of the future becomes a reality.

    proud to be called a remoaner and will always campaign for commonsense with facts not emotions, wake up brexshiteers and smell the coffee ,time for a serious factual 2nd referendum being grown up thinking about the legacy we leave the younger generation who 70% backed remain
    I wonder wether the girl in Sunderland on her husbands shoulders on brexit night will be drinking champagne again when the japanese firms and nissan leave Sunderland which is likely.

  • The People! At the last count there were 65million UK citizens. In the Referendum 17 million voted to leave, against the advice of all three major parties in Westminster. Is this genuinely a democratic mandate for a national commitment as significant as Brexit? Well, not in my opinion. The facts that have come to light subsequent to the result shine so much light on the fallacious propaganda employed by the Leave campaign as to render the ‘decision’ null and void anyway. This so called result has done more to damage the reputation of a democratic vote than Mussolini’s success in the 1920s and Hitler in the 1930s.

  • “It wouldn’t be right for Parliament just to cancel Brexit”.

    An example of how despair can twist our thinking, in an otherwise excellent piece.

    Of course it would be right for parliament something based on fraud and misinformation, invalid by any number of criteria as A C Grayling and others including Dixon himself have repeatedly pointed out.

    They won’t do of course, because of intimidation by the press, like George Brooke says. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be right to do so, with full explanation given to the public.

  • Phil, what on earth makes you thing (1) that it was a democratic vote and (2) that it was clear?

    It would be hard to imaging anything less democratic than a vote won on the back of a campaign of exaggeration and downright lies, which the victors then insisted could never be revisited or even its terms discussed without accusations of treason.

    It would be difficult to imaging anything less clear than a referendum won on a wafer thin majority in which an amendment to ensure some kind of threshold was applied was defeated after a government assurance that the referendum was merely advisory – the same government that then assured the same parliament that they were not required (or allowed) to vote of the outcome as the decision had already been made by the people and was binding.

    Or anything less clear than a vote in which members of dozens of foreign countries were allowed to vote, but not those most directly involved in the issue (the EU states, with the exception of Ireland), nor citizens of the UK itself living in continental Europe for more than 15 years.

  • Brexit is a done deal and the sooner you stop deludeding yourselves the sooner you can start filling your time with something useful.

    At first you came across simply as bad losers, but now you’re coming across as completely bonkers. It’s funny to watch though.

  • One man, one vote, one time?
    Yes – I remember – 5 June 1975 it was. Just like Suzie said.

    And as for losers – it isn’t just Remainers who are losers – with Brexit we will all be losers.

  • Scott, me thinks you doth protest too much.

    From our perspective, nothing could be more useful than looking out for the best interest of the country. What are you doing with your time that’s so much more productive?

    Brexit isn’t done until we’re out, and after that, we’ll be a rule taker for the foreseeable future – with all of the responsibilities and none of the influence of EU membership.

    Then we Remainers will move on to the biggest issue concerning our country: getting us back into the EU.

  • It would be helpful if the media wouldn’t keep talking about what will happen post-Brexit, as if it were inevitable. The should instead talk about our future “unless Brexit happens”

  • I am a bad loser. Particularly as I am increasingly convinced that the outcome of the Referendum will continue to be bad for the British. Over a long life I’ve had no problem arguing my corner even when ‘outvoted’ by my peers and/or workmates. There’s nothing worse than being proved right after the event, especially when you kept quiet at the time. I was able to explain to one of my Leaver chums, (I do have some), that his belief that after Brexit we wouldn’t have to pay VAT anymore was a myth. He was very disappointed! He must have read it on the side of a bus somewhere. Scott and Phil…..and other Leavers, please keep contributing, your optimism is refreshing, and something Remainers miss. How could all those previously democratically elected PMs have been so wrong? Tell us about your own road to Damascus.