Voters’ message is “end the mess” not “get on with Brexit”

by Luke Lythgoe | 03.05.2019

Public are fed up with Brexit. The only way to stop obsessing about it is to stop Brexit – not to reach a fudge that prolongs the pain. That’s the message of the mauling the Tories and Labour and got in local elections.

John McDonnell tweeted, somewhat ambiguously, that the message is “Brexit – sort it” and insisted “message received”. Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis on the BBC’s Today programme described a “very clear message to both parties that we have to get on with getting Brexit done”.

This conclusion totally ignores the surge in pro-European parties across England. At time of writing, the Lib Dems had already gained over 300 seats and taken control of nine councils. These include some big wins in areas that voted Leave in 2016 such West Somerset (61% Leave), Hinckley and Bosworth (60% Leave) and North Norfolk (59% Leave). The Greens have also had a great night.

The main parties risk think voters want them to “get on with Brexit” rather than “end the Brexit mess”. The two are not the same. The strategy emerging from cross-party talks – to enter a customs union with the EU – is potentially a very messy one, as Hugo Dixon has explained for InFacts.

A customs union won’t end the political fighting. A deal struck between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May risks tearing both parties apart. What’s more, any compromise struck now can be unpicked by a future Tory prime minister at a later date – it cannot be “Boris-proofed”. With May promising to resign if MPs approve a deal, Labour would be accused of playing midwife to a hard Tory Brexit.

The battle over what Brexit means would therefore rage for years. That period will include at least one general election. Voters won’t thank either main party for the confusion and uncertainty.

McDonnell has since denied his initial tweet was in favour of a swift deal, but rather supported “sorting this out whichever way” – which presumably could include a new referendum. This fence sitting was echoed in a speech by Corbyn this morning too, in which he insisted Labour was the “only party that seeks to appeal to people however they voted in 2016”.

But equivocation clearly isn’t doing Corbyn’s party any favours. As Labour MP Anna Turley tweeted this morning: “Stand in the middle of the road and you get run over in both directions.” Rather than alienating both pro-European and pro-Brexit voters with distasteful fudge, better to pick a side and own it. Recent polling, reinforced by Lib Dem and Green successes today, suggest Labour members and potential voters will reward the party for backing a People’s Vote.

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Published and promoted by Hugo Dixon on behalf of Referendum Facts Ltd., Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London SW1P 4QP

Edited by Hugo Dixon

12 Responses to “Voters’ message is “end the mess” not “get on with Brexit””

  • Of course the Tories want to put a spin on the results. We’ve had three years of lies, why should we expect anything else from them.

    If they never get into government again it will be too soon.

  • What is unbelievable is how remarks that are so completely off the mark are made and considered by many as a possibly valid point.

    The public turning away from the two main parties due to their incompetent dithering cannot possibly be seen by any person with a drop of sanity flowing through their viens as an indication of support of the policies promoted (or not) by the parties not voted for.

    NO, Ms LINO & friends. Not being voted for is a clear message of dissatisfaction, not support.

    Fall on your sword(s) or just get out of the way and let us get on with our lives before you have completely destroyed the country.

    Seriously, has anyone run a check on the mental health of LINO to judge if she is sufficiently in control of her faculties to be trusted to continue as PM?

  • Crystal clear message of the electorate is neither Cons nor Labour are anywhere near getting a solution for Brexit. The huge wins for the Lib Dems and Greens is a clear message that the voters need to be given another say on which way to turn.

  • If we accept that voters’ patience with the Brexit process is wearing thin and both major parties have suffered losses in the council elections as a result of this, then surely both Labour and the Tories should be looking to end rather than prolong the agony.

    Deal or no deal will result in protracted negotiations with the EU, keeping Brexit a live issue for many years to the detriment of effective government and social cohesion. There is still a substantial majority of individuals in Parliament who are remainers in both head and heart who would vote to revoke article 50 if only they could.

    Such a vote would of course cause mayhem but this would be short lived and the country, much battered, would gradually return to normal business where the EU took its rightful place as an important but not a dominant role in politics and public life.

    The Brexit Party claim that 17.4 million votes is an overwhelming democratic mandate to leave, ignoring the 16.1 million who voted the other way. No rational democratic system could sanction so much damage to satisfy the wishes of a net 1.3 million voters. This damage lies mainly in the disruption of the lives of millions of people living either side of the Irish border and UK citizens living, working and retiring in other EU countries. To satisfy the whims and notions of the less thoughtful leave voters at such high cost to so many families is deeply immoral. Parliamentarians have the moral duty to summon the courage to revoke article 50 and look forward to our new MEPs, democratically elected to represent the interests of all UK citizens in the next European Parliament.

  • Journalists, newspaper and tv, are you listening?

    It’s high time you start treating politicians who spout nonsense such as “the message is we must get on with brexit” as follows:

    “Dear (whoever is being interviewed giving these stupid answers), I, and our viewers/readers really like to treat you with respect.

    “But that is difficult if you keep doing what you have been doing for a long time now, which is taking us for fools. We know, and you know full well too that this is NOT the message the electorate is giving you.

    “Please treat us with respect, just as you like to be treated, and do so by being honest, by not stupidly spinning things, and by not thinking we do not see through this, for we do. The more you continue trying to pull the wool over our eyes, the more we all are justified in thinking you do not deserve our respect, our votes, your salary, your position, your power. And the sooner we shall say “let’s stop this charade – we are not going to give you the platform anymore which you think you can abuse to pull our legs.

    “So at this point I am stopping this charade. We’ll gladly interview you again once you have taken our message on board.”

    BBC, are you listening? Channel 4, perhaps? (of you I have the highest hopes.) ITV? Guardian? (ditto.) The others? Hmm; I won’t hold my breath.

  • Yet more politicians parroting that the public wants the government to deliver Brexit. What the public wants is to be DELIVERED FROM Brexit.

  • Nice one Meulendijk. I enjoyed that.

    I believe that there are three scenarios we’re heading towards now:

    1. A draft deal between the Labour Party and Conservative Party is negotiated and agreed, ready for parliamentary approval: Note that this is not a risk to remaining in the EU though. Instead, it would bring forward and precipitate the collapse of the Tory Party because the two factions for remain and leave will never see eye to eye. In the immediate aftermath of a draft agreement, this will cause multiple cabinet resignations, followed by the big Tory mutiny – meaning an immediate split between pro-EU and pro-leave camps. Therefore, the deal wouldn’t get anywhere near the House of Commons to be voted upon. Chances of success: 50:50 that a draft may be possible, however almost zero to get it through the Commons.

    2. Withdrawal of Article 50: Since parliament agreed that a “no-deal” is not permitted, at the end of October extension deadline Article 50 must presumably be revoked. Obviously this is political anathema to both major parties. Doing this demends upon other circumstances which may develop nearer the time. Chances: 50:50

    3. A new general election: Since both parties are well aware of the points 1. and 2. this is the default option for Theresa May. In other words the least bad option. Chances: approaching 100%

    In the aftermath of the Local Elections, when both main party leaders interpret the results as meaning that Brexit needs to be pursued, they really are in denial of reality. More accurately, they are aware on the reality but choose to continue the pursuit their own political agendas. This is extremely cynical and dishonest.

    This is what turns people off politics.

  • Arnold Pitt: this is an acronym devised by John Crace from the Guardian. It stands for Leader In Name Only. No reflection on your mental capacities at all.

    NJ: Glad you enjoyed it. Although the situation isn’t funny of course.

    You may well be right – I just hope to God you are not. For I am very afraid that come a general election there will be so many empty headed voters that a Tory majority cannot be prevented. Especially if empty-header-in-chief Johnson were to lead them against his runner-up Corbyn. And who knows, even that smarmy man Farage might get a few representatives into parliament. Ughh. That is when the country is really up the proverbial creek.

  • The electorate needs to know the nature of the mess we’re in.
    TMay and Corbyn alike stand in the way of putting forward the arguments as now they are for a new public vote. Thus far most of the arguments for a People’s Vote are based on stuff we could have known 3 years ago (of which those who voted Remain back then were aware presumably). But there have come to be new arguments, given what the last 5 months in Parliament have revealed. And these new arguments must be put forward soon. The claim that 17.4 million will be “betrayed” must be put to rest as soon as possible.
If there comes, at the last minute, to be a new public vote and it seems to have come about only because Remainers want a rematch, then there is a danger of an explosion of anger. Don’t we know that if Parliament is again to vote on some deal, there’s only a chance of its approving it if the vote is combined with legislating for a new public vote? MPs should start explaining why it’s come to pass that such a vote is now the only way forward compatible with allowing the P.M. (in league with Corbyn, as it might be) to do her utmost to respect the 2016 result, i.e. to give Parliament yet another chance to approve a deal.

  • Hello Jennifer,

    Just picking up on part of one statement you made: “……then there is a danger of an explosion of anger……” where I believe you’re referring to the fear of some people not only feeling betrayed, by not getting the Brexit they really want, which could have “terrible” consequences? Perhaps through possible aggression and rioting? Sorry, but the UK has been through such scenarios before now. Please look back in the history books to 1981 (i.e. Brixton, handsworth, Chapeltown and Toxteth). Of course the reasons for these riots were different but the world didn’t come to an end.

    I interpret that this is what you meant?

    On the contrary I would rather be a prime minister having to accommodate the actions of “some” angry Brexiters than a lot more anger from the rest of the population due to the extreme damage to the economy (i.e. damage to businesses; the loss of taxable income to the government, and subsequent squeezing of public services funding) through Brexit, in any shape of form!

    Judging by the majority public mood now and subsequent analysis of peoples opinions it seems to be very clear that many people who voted Brexit did so for reasons which had nothing to do with the EU. Instead more connected with goverment imposed austerity, a lack of job opportunities and a lack of any future perspectives. Lies and deceipt from other sources didn’t help.

    Under these circumstances, it is easy to understand public angry at parliament. However, I see the narrrow majority of parliament comprising honest and honourable MP’s who are trying to do the right thing thing to stop the madness being created by the idealogies of Jeremy Corbyn and Theres May’s band of merry thugs!


  • Even if the LDs had won every council seat Mendacity May would still be claiming it was a vote for brexit. Mendacity May is as big a liar as Fat Boris. Vile individual.