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Analysis

Brexiters have changed their minds, why can’t the people?

by Luke Lythgoe | 13.12.2018

Brexiters are changing their minds over Brexit all the time. Perhaps a new fact has come to light which they don’t like, or a shift in position may suit their personal aims.

If Brexiters can chop and change with every new revelation, why shouldn’t the people have the final say on whether they want this Brexit mess or not?

Last night’s confidence vote in Theresa May showed that 117 Tory MPs had changed their minds about their leader. They voted for her in 2016, full of hope that she could unite the party around a coherent Brexit policy. It’s all gone badly wrong, and the Conservatives are more fracticious than ever. Tory MPs got a democratic opportunity to overturn two years of Brexit mismanagement why shouldn’t the people?

Boris Johnson changed his mind about the Irish border backstop. He was part of the Cabinet that agreed to the measure back in December 2017. Now he wants to “junk the backstop” and has called it a “monstrosity” that wipes out the UK’s sovereignty.

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Johnson claims he was misled by Number 10 over the backstop and “absolutely reassured that this was just a form of words that was necessary to float the negotiations off the rocks”. So, he made a decision without full possession of the facts and now wants to think again? Sounds like a good basis for a People’s Vote.

Liam Fox is the latest Brexiter to change his mind on May’s deal. He told the BBC yesterday he would struggle to support it if there were no changes to the backstop. Fox is still in the Cabinet, and has given his support to the government’s Brexit strategy at each crunch decision so far.

Unlike Dominic Raab, who helped negotiate the deal as Brexit secretary before changing his mind and condemning it in a politically timed Cabinet resignation. He now says the government’s deal is worse than staying in the EU.

May herself is not against a change of mind. That general election she was never going to call in 2017? The “meaningful vote” on the government’s deal that was definitely going to take place this Tuesday? May’s premiership has been littered with u-turns and flip flops.

It seems like it’s one rule for May and her Brexiter detractors, and another for the British people. But a lot has changed since 2016.

It is now much clearer what Brexit actually entails, and that the promises made by the Leave campaign cannot be fulfilled. It is only right to ask whether the public has changed its mind about leaving the EU after all.

Edited by Jenny Sterne

16 Responses to “Brexiters have changed their minds, why can’t the people?”

  • So, 63% to 37% (and on 100% turnout, moreover). Presumably the Brexiteers in the Tory party will now “get over it”, accept “the will of the party” and stop trying to undermine May.

  • Brexit was initiated through political opportunism by Cameron and with the unity of the Tory party as it’s prime motive – not by a massive of the people.
    It’s painful journey to date / reinforced untruths and misrepresentations, worthy of the lowest of door to door/online scammers has exposed the pathetic – unprofessional – non transparency of our elected members.
    Please let’s drop the title The Rt. Hon. and treat these shabby representatives of our country with the disdain they deserve.

  • This “Bexitier” hasn’t changed his mind and although he’s not a fan whatsoever of Theresa May he respects the result of the leadership vote because he believes in the democratic process
    Unlike one single remainer

  • The rules of the Tory Party allow that there can be another vote of confidence in Theresa May in 12 months – perhaps because many things might have changed in that period.
    My calculations tell me that the Referendum was over two years ago.
    I too believe in the democratic process (good word that – it should be a process) and I do not believe that it would in any way be undemocratic to ask the curreent electorate (who are not the same as those who voted in 2016) to consider the information available to them (which is not the same as it was in 2016) to have their say.
    Actually, wouldn’t that be democracy in action?

  • And also a third forth and fifth vote then or the best of thirty three?
    I understand your thinking from the opposite side of this I really do and have really tried to look st every point of view but my vote come down to democracy in the end and not wanting to give that away to the eu for their undemocratic un reformable dictatorial leadership forever

  • @Dave is entitled to point out that the majority (slight but nevertheless a majority) voted leave in June 2016. However this passed over the job of negotiating the leaving process to parliament. If no majority for any feasible method of doing this can be found – and that appears to be the case – what then? If you think simply leaving with no negotiated arrangements whatsoever is the answer, listen to what the vast majority of industry is saying – not politicians but the people who provide employment and have no axe to grind but to protect their business. At the very least this must not be contemplated without asking the electorate to in effect step in where parliament has failed.

    By the way there is no question of the UK refusing to settle the £39M bill agreed some time ago no matter what happens, if there is to be any prospect of being accepted across the world as a trading partner in future.

  • We had a referendum in 1975 and it delivered a clear mandate for staying in Europe. There was no need for another referendum in 2016; polls show EU membership was not an issue with the public. So, why did Cameron call a referendum that the public had not demanded? The answer is he thought it would quell the small number of RW Eurosceptics in his party who ‘kept banging on about it’. The internal quarrels in the Tory party have caused all of this mess- it was not a referendum demanded by the public. Now, however, people have seen through the lies and the manipulation of the democratic process and that is why they are demanding a referendum based on knowledge and facts. It is in fact democracy at work. Cameron’s referendum was a decision by one man to settle a domestic argument. His decision was in fact undemocratic.

  • I trust that Dave will equally condemn the bigot Farage for demanding another referendum on the day of the 2016 referendum BEFORE the results came in when it looked like Leave were going to lose by a small margin.

    After all, who said ”if Leave loses by 48 -52, it will be unfinished business”?

  • It is a criminal offence to overspend in an election and if a winning candidate for parliament does so they are disqualified and the contest is re-run.
    There is a commissioner to stop people telling lies in a campaign yet many lies were told by the leave and the one on the outside of the bus stayed for the whole of the campaign and was retracted only after the last vote had been cast.
    It is a criminal offence to steal people’s personal data but this occurred and the data was used to send different tailored lies to different groups in the electorate.
    Foreign interference is not allowed but it appears there was help for leave from Russia.
    Even if the referendum wasn’t invalid for all the above reasons, the campaign was not conducted on the basis of a no deal Brexit so there is no mandate for it, the leaders of Brexit deny that May’s deal has a mandate and remaining doesn’t have a mandate. We need one of the 3 options to obtain a mandate now.
    Finally, things like leaving the EU and Scottish independence should be decided on 60% in favour and 75% participation. If the public changes its mind on a subject referred to them by parliament then of course a new vote should happen. We need rules if we use referenda – when is a referendum appropriate, who is entitled to vote, what participation and majority is needed to be mandatory on parliament and, say, a minimum 5 year gap between any 2 votes on the same subject (etc) THEN no moving the goal posts!

  • Dave,
    I also try and understand a sincere Brexit Voter, but I would put the following to you:
    1) Were the claims of the Leave Campaign true or false?
    2) Did they overspend according to Electoral Law?
    Each of these has a binary answer. I think any fair minded person would know the answer to these.
    As a consequence, were the UK public treated with the respect that would befit such an important national decision?
    It’s another binary choice.
    You realise that with 17.4 Million voting for Leave, and 16.1 Million voting remain meant that the vote would change from Leave to Remain with a change of just 650,000 votes, which is just 1% of the UK population. So how many voters now realise they were conned? I am confident its more than 1%.
    I understand that you think that the EU is undemocratic, but that is a matter of opinion. Because it has to act in the interest of 27 countries it is constrained by different concerns of the member states. I think it makes it more democratically accountable. Certainly more than our UK government with is FPTP decision making. One final point, the enormous failing of the referendum of 2016 was that it encouraged us to vote according to our own likes and dislikes. As difficult as it is, we needed to remember we are a national community and it was important to consider what was the best for the country as a whole. Throughout the last two years I have seen precious little concern from the average Brexit voter for people other than their own circle of friends. I am opposed to Brexit, because I see no reason to doubt the overwhelming evidence that it will make the country poorer and will be particularly hard witting to those who are already struggling. Most of the high profile Brexiteers are multi-millionaires, and will therefore not be affected by the downside of Brexit. On the contrary, many are seeing it as a means to extend their personal wealth even further.

  • My overiding problem with a second referendum is it would undermine democracy.
    However, what would the questions on that referendum ballot paper be and who would decide them?
    My overiding problem with the ex is essentially the same, who are the leaders and who decides them, it just undemocratic to the core. Couple that with their lack of financial accountability in that thy have NEVER had their accounts audited, even in private their almost a totalitarian state without the state!

    A totalitarian state with a massive army is a very dangerous animal indeed.

  • How can a democratic process (a vote) undermine democracy?
    What undermines democracy is a process based on lies, criminality and knowingly false promises. Any serious democrat would concede that the original (advisory) vote should be annulled – we aren’t asking for that. We want the people to be allowed to decide, knowing what is now known, if May’s deal is better than remaining in the EU.

    Democracy cannot be based on lies! If Brexit is still the “will of the people”, her position will carry the day. If it is no longer “the will of the people”, then forcing them to a course of action they no longer support is hardly democratic now, is it Dave?

    Democracy is not an event; it is a process.

  • Dave,

    The Brexiter in question who doesn’t accept the will of the Tory party is Jacob Rees Mogg, who was calling for her resignation the day after the vote of confidence because the percentage of her victory was not high enough.

    By the way, it’s perfectly possible to find out who does what in the EU and how they got there. Try googling it. The EU has many websites dealing with all aspects of its organisation. You can also find their accounts online every year – once they have been audited and signed of by the accountants, which they are. Every single year. Without exception.