Now let’s fight for a People’s Vote on Brexit deal

by Hugo Dixon | 20.06.2018

The compromise agreed today over a “meaningful vote” for MPs at the end of the Brexit talks isn’t perfect. But it’s a good enough basis for winning a campaign to get a People’s Vote if Theresa May comes back with a miserable deal towards the end of the year, as seems only too likely. This is the prize we now need to focus our energy on.

Now that a meaningful vote of sorts is in the bag, the campaign for a People’s Vote will gain energy. More and more people will realise that Brexit is not a done deal. This will give them even greater reason to put effort, time and money into the campaign.

That, in turn, will help persuade more MPs that the people should have the final say on Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn, who whipped his MPs into backing a meaningful vote, will be under increasing pressure to support a People’s Vote.

The BBC, and the rest of the media, will also be expected to give more attention to our campaign. The oxygen of publicity will put wind in our sails.

The government had previously insisted that the “meaningful vote” at the end of the talks would be a motion that MPs could not amend. Parliament would have to rubber-stamp its deal or stand by idly as we crashed out of the EU without a deal.

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At the last minute the government put out a statement saying that the Speaker would decide whether any motion was in fact amendable. It also agreed to provide parliamentary time for backbenchers to put forward their own motions at the end of the Brexit talks. Dominic Grieve, who had been leading the rebellion, then agreed not to press the issue.

Although there is some ambiguity about what the relevant passage of the House of Commons Standing Orders means (see paragraph 24b), there would be a riot if the Speaker denied MPs the chance to amend the relevant motion.

The prime minister will now get back to figuring out what Brexit means. It is astonishing that two years after the referendum, the Cabinet still hasn’t worked out what it wants – let alone come up with a plan that the EU will agree to.

As May hunts for a deal, she will be forced into one capitulation after another. She will end up with an agreement that satisfies neither pro-Europeans nor Brexiters – one that damages both our prosperity and our power.

At that point, MPs won’t cancel Brexit. But they could and should ask the people what they want. The simplest way to do that would be to amend the relevant motion at the time of the meaningful vote and call for a People’s Vote.

Today was a qualified victory for pro-Europeans. We will only win the final battle if we ramp up our campaign. The next step is Saturday’s People’s Vote March in London. Be there – and bring your friends and family too.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

2 Responses to “Now let’s fight for a People’s Vote on Brexit deal”

  • It is no use anyone arguing that going through with Brexit is economic folly – economics only trumps politics in the long run, and in the long run we are all dead. We have to find some way of trumping the arch Brexiteers, the logically ridiculous assertion that the 52/48 referendum result is inviolate, and the facetious argument that anything else is a flagrant denial of democracy.  This is a fascist version of democracy, which needs political resistance, not economically righteous handwringing.
    The brexiteers are getting their retaliation in first – failure (on whatever account) will all be the fault of: a) Europe/Brussels; b) the wretched remainers. The only politically acceptable way that a meaningful vote in Parliament can actually make a difference is that it might result in another ‘peoples’ vote’ (which the EU would be happy to facilitate with an extension of the Match 2019 deadline, if necessary, but not otherwise).  A re-vote, though, will need very strong and careful arguments to, effectively, tear up article 50.  Most people will not willingly change their vote unless provided with very different arguments than last time – economics is not where it is at.  

    Taking back control is where it is at. So, a “tear it up and take back control” campaign will need to say we stay, but on our terms (as many other member states are already beginning to say) – we will help reform the EU so that it makes more sense and behaves more democratically, but we will no longer gold-plate regulations, rather we will exercise our sovereign and democratic right to contest those with which we disagree, and seek reform, in the time-honoured fashion of all reformers. Furthermore, we will limit the movement of people to regulating the movement of labour, as we are entitled to do. In short, the campaign will need to recognise the reasons for a leave vote, and link that to a 52/48 outcome, arguing that we are permanently out of both the Euro and Schengen, and already get a decent budgetary rebate (almost echoing the 52/48 vote already). Furthermore, our continued membership of the EU will now involve us behaving as radical reformers, rather than gold-plating moaners as in the past. This is the best if not the only way of taking back genuine control of our conditions, rules and markets. We will tear up article 50, challenge the the EU to throw us out if they don’t like it, leave the lawyers to quarrel over who is allowed to do what and just do what we need and want to do – which is take back control.

  • In response to David Harvey:

    So instead of going for a bespoke deal as a non-member state (Association Agreement / Ukraine model) you think we need a (new) bespoke deal as a member state which could also be a model for other countries (Associate Membership). Associate members would not be required to join the euro or Schengen or the inner federal core that Macron aspires to.

    This would probably require a new treaty to replace Lisbon and I agree we need to remain as full members for now in order to have influence on the contents of this treaty.

    Something I wrote 2 years ago: