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Would a People’s Vote really tear the country apart?

by Hugo Dixon | 30.12.2018

My Guardian column last week – arguing that a People’s Vote could help heal the country – provoked a storm of comments: at last count around 4,500 on the newspaper’s website and 500 on this Twitter thread.

My core argument was that we need to be “frank about our options and commit as a society to address the legitimate reasons that led people to vote for Brexit in the first place”. Here I try to respond to the main criticisms.

We’ve already had a People’s Vote

Quite so. The snag is that the 2016 referendum was based on Boris Johnson’s fantasy Brexit. A People’s Vote in 2019 would be based on reality – after Parliament can’t agree on what to do. It’s no accident that MPs are squabbling. If Theresa May had delivered Johnson’s fantasy, they would already have said yes.

The EU was the legitimate reason that led many to vote for Brexit

Which bits of the EU led you to vote for Brexit? If it was “take back control”, how do you square that with a deal that Johnson says will turn us into a “vassal state”? If it was because the UK can’t do independent trade deals, how does that fit with a deal that means we’ll have to follow EU trade policy without a vote on it?

If it was because migrants aren’t properly integrated into our society or because parts of the economy have been starved of investment for years, well, we will have more money to tackle those problems if we stay – and our politicians will have the time to focus on them. That was the point of my original article.

Remain wins second vote, creating a draw. Then what?

A People’s Vote should be viewed as the end of a process rather than one in a series of “neverendums”.

It’s a bit like buying a house. You make an offer because it looks nice. That’s like the 2016 referendum. Now the survey comes in and shows there’s dry rot and the roof is falling in. You don’t have to follow through if you don’t want to. That would be the People’s Vote in 2019.

Because it would come at the end of the process, after a period of reflection, it is more likely there would be closure. Somebody who decides not to buy the house because of dry rot isn’t likely to reopen the question six months later.

But, of course, we also need to address the reasons that meant many people were unhappy with their old home in the first place. We can’t just go back to the status quo.

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

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You can do what you like once the result of the referendum has been implemented

The problem is “implementation”. How exactly is the 2016 result to be implemented? If it was obvious how to do that, the whole thing would have been done and dusted ages ago.

Your refusal to accept the result of the referendum is the reason the country’s divided

Again, the problem is that it wasn’t clear in 2016 what Brexit meant. If it had been, the country would have moved on. Instead, the Conservative Party has been squabbling over which form of Brexit to go for.

While it’s true that patriotic pro-Europeans have been pointing out the problems with every form of Brexit – and, in a democracy, we have a right to speak our minds – the most vicious attacks on the prime minister have come from her own ranks. Brexiters such as Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg hate May’s Brexit deal with a vengeance. Even if pro-Europeans had done nothing, the country would be divided.

It will be like making “The Hulk” angry!

Some people will certainly be angry if there’s a People’s Vote. But we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be bullied into silence because people will get angry. That’s tyranny, not democracy.

On the other hand, we should engage respectfully with Leave voters, especially those who engage respectfully with us. We should seek to understand their concerns – and address them where they are reasonable.

Breathtaking naivety… [to] think a People’s Vote would be part of a healing process. It would be like pouring vinegar into an open wound.

Is it really beyond us as a nation to have an honest and respectful debate? We should give it a try. The public is fed up with the dishonesty and bullying. Maybe those who don’t descend to old-style political tactics will be rewarded.

Calling for a frank and honest debate while talking about “mega dividends”. Hilarious and typical remain logic.

My article said that we could have tens of billions of pounds a year extra to spend on healing our country if we stay in the EU. This was the conclusion of a report by CommonGround, which I co-wrote. The figure, in turn, was based on the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ analysis that the prime minister’s deal would in the long run have a negative fiscal impact of 1.8% of GDP once the hit to productivity is taken into account. 1.8% of ​today’s GDP​ is £36 billion.

Wallet, wallet, wallet – all Remainers think about

The case for staying in the EU amounts to the four “Ps”: peace, people, power, and prosperity. Only the last “P” is about wallet.

Being in the EU helps promote peace, not least in Northern Ireland. It is good for people, because it underpins our rights and allows us to move around more than 30 other nations. And it enhances our power because we are an influential player in the EU which, in turn, is a force on the global stage – and that matters when we are trying to manage globalisation, international terrorism, tax avoidance by multinationals and climate change.

The four Ps seem to me to add up to a compelling case to stay in the EU. But let the people decide!

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

23 Responses to “Would a People’s Vote really tear the country apart?”

  • I’ve long hated the People’s Vote campaign, as unnecessarily antagonistic. It always seemed possible that a second referendum would be needed, and it would have been nice to make that decision without hardened preconceived opinions for or against. If Westminster is deadlocked, we have to do something since a No Deal would be a democratic outrage; no referendum voted for a No Deal, nor did a majority in parliament. It is simply the default that has happened by accident. If Westminster is deadlocked, then there should be no election and no extension of Article 50 to get more time. The decision should be taken out of the hands of politicians, since their utter incompetence got us into this mess. A second referendum would inevitably undermine for some people their faith in democracy. But is watching our politicians bicker and flounder around for the last 2.5 years doing anything to bolster anyone’s faith in British democracy? With such polarised opinions in the country, a second referendum would also be very divisive. This country will be divided whatever happens. A decade from now today’s Brexiteers will still be complaining the country would be doing better if Brexit hadn’t been betrayed, and Remainers will complain it would be doing better if Brexit hadn’t happened. The sooner we accept the inevitability of bitter division for years to come, the better. At least in recognising it, we can start over years to do something about it.

  • I would like to point out to John Horgan, that “no deal” was indeed on the ballot paper. If you voted leave, you voted to trigger article 50, you agreed that if a withdrawal agreement could not be reached, then you left on WTO terms. This is not actually leaving with “no deal”. It is leaving on “WTO” rules. It is the legal default option. It was deliberately put in as a fall back option for a bad withdrawal agreement, that could not be signed by the country which had triggered article 50.
    And make no mistake, Mays/Robbins negotiated WA is bad. Really bad. It is not a “deal”, so do not call it such, as all remainers do. It is a withdrawal “agreement.
    Nobody in the country wants Mays deal, except die hard remainer extremists, who see it as “not really leaving, and rejoin at a later date”, on worse terms probaby. Though that bothers them not.
    Short term pain is infinitely better then long term pain. Which is what Mays WA set against WTO is.

  • A very thoughtful and balanced response. And from my point of view the only way forward.
    As a European working in this country I hope that the British (or really the English people) come to see what they will be losing.
    They also need to accept they live in 2018 and not in 1820 and are no longer a superpower but one of many countries in Europe. Britain is still powerful but only in cooperation with her Eurpean friends.

  • With respect to “We’ve already had a People’s Vote”, well, not really.

    The people — at least those of us who were enfranchised — were invited to vote in a referendum cooked up by a politician, one David Cameron, because he thought it would solve a problem in the Conservative party. A new referendum is genuinely demanded by the people, in the teeth of opposition from politicians.

    -A.

  • Nigel Duffy – the majority for leave was secured by convincing a cohort of persuadable floating voters that brexit would entail sunlit uplands and 350 mill for the NHS.
    They did not vote for no deal, and if you think they did then what’s the harm in asking them?
    Ps- no deal consistently unpopular in polls, beaten only to ‘least popular’ by May’s deal.

  • “the four “Ps”: peace, people, power, and prosperity. ”

    Absolutely, and what I find disgraceful is that all the chatter in the media is about the 4th P, not the first three! And among the paradoxes of Brexit, what I don’t understand is why we oldies (65+) voted preferentially for Brexit. We’re all too young to remember the war (though I do remember the bomb sites), but our parents were in it, and I consider Brexit a repudiation of what they did and suffered and achieved during the conflict. I know that children sometimes renounce their parents’ achievements, but usually only while adolescent…

    Another argument for a *third* referendum on Europe is that the one in 2016 was tainted by illegal overspend, and 7 million people were excluded from the franchise. Here’s an extract of what I’m writing about this to MPs at the moment:

    7) Condoning electoral fraud. Vote Leave, BeLeave and Veterans for Britain have all been found guilty of overspend with the certainty needed for criminal conviction. As highlighted in Prof. P.N. Howard’s report to the recent High-Court case, this overspend is likely to have been particularly effective because it was in the last days when many voters made up their minds, and is consistent with the findings of the NatCen report Understanding the Leave Vote which found greater turn-out amongst leavers than remainers. In Prof. Howards opinion the illegal activity ‘very likely’ changed the referendum result from “Remain” to “Leave”. Tainted elections have to be re-run and only a morally-bankrupt government would think the same should not apply to referendums.

    8) Condoning an unfair franchise. In the Crown Dependencies all residents over the age of 16 are able to vote, but that was not the case in the 2016 referendum. This excluded 1.5 million 16- & 17-year olds who were not given a vote (and I would add that the Austrian experience is that enfranchising youths younger increases their participation, which is so essential to a healthy democracy) as well as 2.2 million non-Irish, non Commonwealth persons. Add to this the 3.5 million British Subjects (of whom I am one) excluded by the 15-year rule (Cabinet Office estimate in its Impact Assessment to the Overseas Electors Bill) and we have a democratic deficit of some 7 million persons, most of whom, I suspect, think Brexit is an idiot idea. Quite a lot when the “Leave” majority was only 1.3 million. I am certainly seething with anger at having my life thrown into confusion by a decision in which I was not allowed to participate.

  • I can agree with John Horgan that the Brexit divisions will be with us for years (though as the majority of Leavers are relatively old, while the youngest in the electorate are overwhelmingly pro-Remain, time should heal much), I’m not at all clear what he is recommending. The logic of what he says suggests that the Government should avoid a no deal by revoking the original Article 50 notice before 29th March 2019 on the grounds that, as Parliament cannot agree on anything, we should revert to the status quo ante. Which would be consistent with the 2016 referendum having had a super-majority requirement built in – as it undoubtedly should have for such a massive constitutional change – that said a mere 3.8% margin between Leave and Remain wasn’t enough, nor was a vote for Leave by only 37.47% of the electorate.

    But the mulish Mrs May won’t do that, and anyway it’s must be a moot point whether an Act of Parliament is needed to undo the effect of the original notice and, if so, whether a majority can be scraped together for that. For what it’s worth I think a new Act is not required, as revoking the original notice will not deprive anyone of any of their rights – on the contrary, it would restore quite a lot of rights that pursuing Brexit will take away. But constitutional law is not my area of expertise.

  • To Nigel Duffy I say that his presumption that ‘leave with no deal’ is the default option that the electorate accepted is wholly unrealistic, and that only the most blinkered and legalistic judge would ever base a judgment on that. Polls have shown that a very substantial part of the electorate had only the vaguest idea of what the EU was exactly, still less of its powers vis-a-vis national governments. I very much doubt if even 0.1% had ever heard of Article 50, and if a tenth of those who had knew anything about how the 2 year limit applied. As many have said before me, the vote for Leave was made on the basis of wildly optimistic assumptions: principally that a new deal with the EU would be the easiest ever to negotiate, especially as ‘they need us more than we need them’, and the German car makers would twist Angela Merkel’s arm, and she would then force the German view on to all the other 26. Utterly irresponsible as it was to propagate such arrant nonsense, that is what was said, and it clearly made a big impression on a great many people.

  • Dear Hugo,
    As usual, a good article.
    As with most of the discourse on Brexit, there are many angles to this debate. We all know that there are various reasons why people voted the way they did – in fact we all know that the reasons are quite varied and complex. However, I see a sinister decoupling of Conservative ideology and the general public here, where Brexit was started by the Conservatives.
    Let’s just consider one important question – what is really motivating the Conservative Brexiteers to want to leave the EU? At the highest level, the possibilities are, that they believe it’s good for:
    • The country’s economic well-being? Mmm – from all the analyses, even from the government itself, this doesn’t exactly look rosy. Isn’t it the case that if businesses can’t travel (e.g. gridlocked ports, etc. ) and it is subject to WTM rules, with higher tariffs) something is going to go bang, isn’t it? Trading with new delays and higher costs are not exactly clever things to do when trying to survive commercially? I would argue that the outcome can only mean bankruptcies, a lower tax take for the Treasury, with subsequent increases in unemployment benefit, and a massive squeeze on public expenditure. Since 2009, the population has had a good dose of austerity, and the alarm bells should be ringing here again!
    • The population? Would Brexit generate more national income to pay for schools and education, social services, the police, regional investment and regeneration, etc.? Rather far fetched if you have suddenly created a lower tax base. In addition, most people should be able to remember the pro’s and con’s of Conservative Party policies offered to the electorate since the 1980’s? Were they dealing with investment in skills, training, education, regeneration and infrastructure in poorer areas? I think not. Having lived in the North-West and travelled widely in Yorkshire, Newcastle and Birmingham over the years, I can only say that some of the deprivation is staggering. No wonder that people feel so negative about their future prospects. I think if I’d been unemployed over many years with such an experience I would have lashed out and believed the politicians telling me about the ‘bad old EU’!
    • Themselves – the Conservative Brexiteers? Perhaps we’re onto something here! Perhaps the real reason for Brexit and especially a hard-Brexit (WTM rules), may mean that the Brexiteers would be able to avoid the clutches of the EU’s Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD)? Although the directive is intended to come into force from the 1st January 2019, leaving the EU would leave the pro-Brexit with their money safely stashed in tax havens. Even if there was a transition period during which time this directive were to prevail, it is not hard to see how a continuing Conservative government might procrastinate on the implementation of this directive. Another point, I haven’t even mentioned is their possible business interests in the giant US agribusiness – you know, GM food, chlorinated chicken, glyphosate herbicides? A point for another day.
    Just a few thoughts! Perhaps I’m too cynical? I think I know where I’d put my money!

  • Although I am campaigning for another vote, mainly because so many more of us now realize that no government or negotiator is going to get a deal with the EU that gives us the same advantages that we have as members, I believe that the debate before such a second vote will fail unless it takes good account of all the reasons people voted for Brexit. What we are missing at the moment is any way to have a comprehensive debate with Leavers who have a deeply entrenched belief that the EU, a “foreign” institution, “governs” us, that it is not democratic, that its bureaucrats run the show with no checks and balances and are accountable to no one. The role of the EU parliament is negligible and can be dismissed.
    I think that if I believed all of the above then I would fervently wish to exit from this institution. The tragedy is that a very large number of people do believe the above description. That is why they easily latch onto the concept of the EU being the “enemy”.They regularly contact radio and TV programs with these views and the big tragedy is that the Presenters, Interviewers and MPs who listen to them never correct them. They never get told that the Commission and Commissioners are accountable to the EU Parliament, which can sack then. They never get told that there is a double democratic process for the voting through legislative proposals. They never get told that all proposals are passed to national governments for scrutiny before the vote takes place. They never get told that the EU only has certain competences. They never get told that David Cameron commissioned a study of all the EU competences before the referendum and that the study (which consulted widely with business, finance, MPs etc) found that there was no EU competence which affected the UK negatively.
    I could make a long list of much more, but the point is that we failed to make the case for the EU, we failed to counteract and correct the misinformation and we are still failing in this respect.
    I want another vote. The country needs a re-examination of all the issues, but we have to make sure that misinformation and misconceptions are always corrected. At present I am not too confident that those who are in a position in the media to do this will do so, often because they too have absorbed all the misinformation. How do we avoid the inevitable very clever Brexit tactics next time when they can so easily make use of these common misconceptions? Our media representatives and our MPs have to be fully briefed. An MP this morning on LBC let a Brexiter come out with all the above misconceptions without correcting her. Remainers will lose again unless we can deal with this.

  • Call me naive, but in sixty years of taking an interest in UK politics I can’t think of a time when opinion across a broad range of groups has been so consistent. Leaders of all parties since the Second World War…..from Churchill’s 1946 speech on the benefits of a united Europe, through to Blair, Cameron and even Teresa May in 2016, have clearly demonstrated their pro Europe stance. Outside of Westminster, the financial institutions, including the Bank of England, manufacturers, teachers and academics, the NHS and BMI, trade unions, the civil service…….all are predominantly pro Remain.

    The Referendum result is the worst case of defrauding democracy I’ve seen. Money poured into the Leave campaign by what amounted to free advertising by the high volume tabloids totally overwhelmed thoughtful articles in the Guardian and other respected commentators. Revoking Article 50 would not tear the country apart anymore than it currently is.

  • Excellent article Hugo, and I liked particularly the 4 P’s. Of course the EU is so much more than a mere Trade Association. It has transformed relationship’s between the participating MS, particularly those of Western Europe ( including between the UK and Ireland ) and it is only a lunatic fringe of the Conservative Party which can claim to have ” a problem ” with Europe. As pointed out above, all governments of either party have supported the EU project since 1973 ( and indeed before if one takes account of UK application to join the EEC in the 1960’s ) so the idea that 37% of eligible UK voters can torpedo the whole process is quite absurd.
    The fault lies with the Conservative party calling a totally unnecessary referendum and having no leader of any stature at all to cope with the absurd consequences of their actions. That plus the party political games going on in Westminster makes the whole situation almost ungovernable. There seems to be no other solution than to return to ” the People ” as the political parties are incapable of sorting out the mess.

  • I thoroughly agree with your thoughtful analysis. The fact is the country is already hopelessly divided over Brexit. You would have to go back to 1642 to see a worse political and constitutional crisis. If the government had recognised that such a small majority would mean compromise and a Norway-style deal, many remainers would reluctantly have accepted this. But an extreme group of hard Brexiteers poisoned the atmosphere and attitudes have now hardened among those of us who feel disenfranchised. Failure to properly investigate lies and illegal donations to Leave have only made this worse. Would we have been happy with a Norway-style deal? No, it would put us in the slow lane, remove our influence, but as the lesser of these evils it would at least preserve key rights, jobs and access to the EU.

    In the meantime, the lies, law-breaking and external interventions on the Leave side, together with complete failure of a Brexiteer-led government to negotiate a satisfactory solution despite nearly three years and huge resources taken from other departments have exposed successful Brexit as a unicorn myth.

    For these reasons, and a rapid worsening of the economy, there has been a seismic shift since the referendum towards wanting a second referendum and towards staying in the EU. Given the small majority for Leave, change in sentiment and what we now know, there can surely be no rational reason for objecting to a final and fair test of the settled will of the people. Parliament must allow us a chance to find a way out of the crisis we are in as it can no longer do so convincingly itself. That must include the option of remaining – for which there is now an increasingly strong majority – or it will be seen as a stitch-up. To not allow this to happen will indeed be a betrayal and will leave wounds to fester that will undermine the UK’s future and potentially its unity, leaving Scotland, Northern Ireland and the disenfranchised young deeply resentful and increasingly alienated.

    A People’s Vote may annoy a few, but in the end it is our duty – whether Remainers, Brexiteers or Undecided – to now send our considered verdict to a Parliament that will otherwise become increasingly dysfunctional.

  • A second referendum with a narrow victory for Remain producing a “draw” is about the silliest argument, since it assumes the two matches are staged on the same playing field. What we have is a progression, more like a tournament, where the fantasy unicorn Brexit has already been eliminated in the first round.

    In any case, there is likely to be a resounding victory for Remain, next time. The Leave arguments have been thoroughly exposed and discredited, the people are not going to be fooled twice, surely.

    The idea of British values being promoted on the continent, other people having to follow rules framed by us, is likely to appeal to Leave voters a lot more than passive subservience, as Hugo points out. Many former Leavers are realising this.

    The main risk from a resounding victory is that the leavers get victimised in the aftermath. In the aftermath of World War 2, many Germans and people in occupied countries who collaborated with them, were shoddily treated. As Hugo said, Remain must be magnanimous in victory and respect the concerns of those who were conned into voting Leave.

  • The damage has been done. The 2016 result showed the country to be divided. The DUP policy is despite NI voter choice. The Scottish independence vote was before Brexit was conceived on a one night stand. London and the north east are not simply physically miles apart. the Cabinet is divided. Sovereignty? Well, when it doesn’t suit there are calls to replace High and Supreme Court Judges, abolish the House of Lords. Familes have been divided. Promised solutions to migration have not materialised.there are strong signs of financial and business relocation from the UK. Visas for traveling. Could go on, but if this is what is called taking back control, if such a concern, exists the price pay is division, I suspect suspicion, and uncertainty.

  • I thoroughly agree with your thoughtful analysis. The fact is the country is already hopelessly divided over Brexit. You would have to go back to 1642 to see a worse political and constitutional crisis. If the government had recognised that such a small majority would mean compromise and a Norway-style deal, many remainers would reluctantly have accepted this. But an extreme group of hard Brexiteers poisoned the atmosphere and attitudes have now hardened among those of us who feel disenfranchised. Failure to properly investigate lies and illegal donations to Leave have only made this worse. Would we have been happy with a Norway-style deal? No, it would put us in the slow lane, remove our influence, but as the lesser of these evils it would at least preserve key rights, jobs and access to the EU.

    In the meantime, the lies, law-breaking and external interventions on the Leave side, together with complete failure of a Brexiteer-led government to negotiate a satisfactory solution despite nearly three years and huge resources taken from other departments have exposed successful Brexit as a unicorn myth.

    For these reasons, and a rapid worsening of the economy, there has been a seismic shift since the referendum towards wanting a second referendum and towards staying in the EU. Given the small majority for Leave, change in sentiment and what we now know, there can surely be no rational reason for objecting to a final and fair test of the settled will of the people. Parliament must allow us a chance to find a way out of the crisis we are in as it can no longer do so convincingly itself. That must include the option of remaining – for which there is now an increasingly strong majority – or it will be seen as a stitch-up. To not allow this to happen will indeed be a betrayal and will leave wounds to fester that will undermine the UK’s future and potentially its unity, leaving Scotland, Northern Ireland and the disenfranchised young deeply resentful and increasingly alienated.

    A People’s Vote may annoy a few, but in the end it is our duty – whether Remainers, Brexiteers or Undecided – to now send our considered verdict to a Parliament that will otherwise become increasingly dysfunctional.

  • We held successive general election votes just 2 years apart in 2015 and 2017. Why? Because that’s what suited PM May. The reality is that she would hold another Referendum vote now (similar time separation from 2016), if it suited.
    Government’s hold votes in quick sucession if they think it will help them force their agenda through. They hold off if they think they might lose.

  • the Peoples Choice campaign never specifies that its preferred option is to remain – BUT it will be remain without the opt out of “ever closer union” that Cameron negotiated because that offer has lapsed

    unless it comes out of the closet on this symbolically crucial point and deals with it ( somehow) the campaign looks risky. “Success” can turn out badly as the Miller litigation shows

    Better to follow K Clarkes advice; swallow Mays poor deal and let time heal the wounds

  • Like William Tobin, asI have been living out of the UK for more than fifteen years, I was excluded from voting in 2016, in spite of the fact that as a former teacher, I pay UK tax on my pension, but have no representation. Hugo’s article gives cogent arguments for rebutting the claims about respecting the ‘ will of the people’, but unfortunately these arguments won’t be heard widely enough. If parliament cannot decide, surely we need another referendum now that people are more informed about the EU and what leaving would really mean.
    The main problem now is one of time – an extension to article 50 would come up against the forthcoming Europen elections in June. A people’s vote would have to happen in time for it to be clear whether the UK would participate in these or not.

  • I particularly liked William Tobin’s contribution to this debate. The possibly criminal fraud practised by the Brexiteers is now so well documented as to provide reasons to question and possibly invalidate the 2016 result. Perhaps GCHQ could help investigate the strong suspicion that the activities of Cambridge Analytica were linked to Russian desires to see the U.K. out of the EU. I cannot imagine any outcome that better serves the strategic aims of Trump and Putin. If it requires a rerun of the referendum to block Brexit, so be it, but this should be settled by Parliament, through cross party action among the true patriots.

  • Small point but we’ve had two referendums, not one. There was one in 1974, remember ? Remain won with a landslide. But when we were presented with the second one, I don’t remember anyone screaming about it being undemocratic. The next referendum, if it happens, will be fought (if that’s the right word) with the full knowledge of what Brexit will actually mean; and is therefore MORE democratic than the last.

    Having said that, there are still plenty of people in this country who still don’t know what the EU is. I am staggered that there are those who actually think that Afghanistan and Pakistan are in the EU. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so serious.

  • The one thing that Leavers never promised during 2016 campaigning was to leave with no deal or, as some say, start to trade purely on WTO terms. Those Leavers promised a good deal with the EU suggesting we could have EU beneficial trade terms without being a member. Many said we should stay in the Single Market.
    The Leavers probably knew what WTO would mean in terms of tariffs and access to EU markets so if there had been any proposals to use those terms only it would have been straightforward to quantify its effect.
    To now suggest that No Deal is what a Leave vote meant is dishonest and inaccurate.

  • It is very simple. The promises made by Leave cannot be delivered upon, I think we all accept that. I am no fan of May, but let’s say she has done her best and the “deal” is the best Brexit scenario on offer. A people’s vote give the chance to the electorate (the 2019 electorate) to endorse what she offers, reject it in favour of remain or embrace the Armaggedon option of No Deal – that is democratic. If knowing what is known now, a majority still want her deal or no deal then so be it. If minds have changed (and the younger voter now can say) and the mood has swung against Brexit, how can it be democratic to force it on a nation that no longer wants it?