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Analysis

Whether PM survives or not, People’s Vote is logical choice

by Hugo Dixon | 15.11.2018

Theresa May’s deal is dead and only a tiny number of MPs want “no deal”. These are the key facts to bear in mind in the midst of the ministerial resignations and infighting.

As a result, voting down the deal doesn’t mean we will end up crashing out with no deal. Far more likely, we will end up with a People’s Vote.

But before we get there, the political drama will have to play out.

The first act will determine whether May stays as leader of the Conservative Party. Now that Jacob Rees-Mogg has called for a leadership challenge, it seems likely that there will soon be the 48 letters required to force the issue to a vote.

But that doesn’t mean she will quit. A full 158 Tory MPs have to vote against her to force her out of office. Many people think she would resign if there were 100 or more. But May has shown the tenacity of a limpet and she could surprise observers again.

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If the prime minister does survive, she will press on with the special EU summit to approve the deal on November 25 and then present her miserable deal to MPs a couple of weeks later. But it will then probably get shot down in flames – and rightly so. It is now being opposed from so many angles – the opposition, the DUP, Tory Brexiters, Tory pro-Europeans and possibly even Scottish Conservatives – that it could be defeated by a big majority.

After her deal is rejected, all sorts of alternative ideas will be tossed into the air. Labour will try to bring the government down. Various Tories will put forward their pet projects – such as Boris Johnson’s “Super Canada” and Nick Boles’ “Norway for Now”. They are all hopeless.

Given that Parliament does not want “no deal”, a People’s Vote will probably be the only proposal left standing. MPs could then back it by a big majority. The EU is also in favour, with Donald Tusk saying he is “best prepared for a no-Brexit scenario”. The prime minister herself might see the writing on the wall and end up supporting it. But if she doesn’t, Parliament will force her to.

But what if the Moggite coup succeeds? It is hard to know how the drama would then unfold. Would there be a full leadership election for a new Conservative leader, including asking the party’s members – and, if so, how long would that take? Would somebody step in as a caretaker and, if so, would he or she press ahead with May’s Brexit deal or wait for the new leader to decide what to do?

But whatever happens, not much will change apart from up to two months of time-wasting. If there is no deal by January 21, whoever is prime minister has to present a plan to Parliament within five working days.

And the range of options will be pretty much the same: May’s deal, crashing out with no deal or holding a People’s Vote. Given that the deal will look just as bad as it does today and MPs won’t want “no deal”, the People’s Vote again will be the main game in town.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

5 Responses to “Whether PM survives or not, People’s Vote is logical choice”

  • We had the People’s Vote in 2016. You lost. Deal with it.
    Besides, supposing you narrowly won a second referendum, that makes it one each. What next? A penalty shoot-out?
    Or do you only recognise the ‘People’s Vote’ when it gives you the result you want?

  • We actually had a referendum in 1975 when 67% voted to stay in Europe. So, with your logic, there should not have been a referendum in 2016. The people had already spoken in 1975 and the result was a clear majority. Why should there have been the need for another referendum?

    The 2016 referendum was called for a totally inappropriate reason- to try and protect the unity of the Tory party. The referendum was a con and the result was a very narrow majority. Since then a lot has changed as people realise they have been shafted. There is every reason why people have the right to call a People’s Vote.

    Your ‘logic’ is flawed.

  • Excellent article and excellent analysis. It is good to see a positive prospectus that envisions an end to this seemingly never-ending debacle.

    There will always be some Brexcessives like poor Mark above, but we can help them to stop leading chaotic Brexit- addicted lives.

    The rest of us prefer staid old healthy prosperity where other countries can trust each other with the silverware. The Pirates never really accomplish anything because they aren’t really constructive by deisgn. So swashbuckle your way into the Atlantic if it is your destiny, the rest of us want the sensible life we had back before this plague of Blue-beards took the helm .

  • Well done Euroboob, condescending as usual!

    In 1975 the vote wasn’t to stay in the EU as it had not been created then. The 2016 vote was post Maastricht, Lisbon etc so was a vote on a totally different organisation.
    In some ways if the EU fanatics get their way and we are forced to stay in the EU then I am certain that a totally different political landscape will be in place in a few years time. Who knows perhaps UKIP will be in power and we will leave properly?

  • Peter,
    Not very likely that UKIP will experience the upturn you imagine. Its interesting to look at the age distribution of voters in the EU referendum. Lord Ashcroft produced some interesting graphs which demonstrate very well that Brexit was most favoured by 50 years olds and above, with people over 75 being most likely to vote leave. The younger citizens overwhelming voted to remain. Time is not on the side of this older demographic at all. I am sure you know exceptions to this, but it will not be decided by your circle of friends however much you like to think that you speak for the nation as a whole.
    For all of this time I am yet to see someone elaborate the benefits of leaving, all I hear is how awful the EU is. I am reminded of a bit of match box wisdom, “You don’t have to blow out another man’s candle to let your own shine”. Brexiteers have never made a positive case for leaving which would benefit ordinary citizens. Genuinely if I thought the poorer people in society would have benefited from Brexit I would have voted for it myself. The majority of indicators, the Treasury, OBR and IMF all point to a significant impact of a No deal. By all means put up your alternative information, but don’t quote Patrick Minford if you want to be taken seriously.