CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Democracy did not stop or start on referendum day

01 November, 2018

• THE leavers told us it was going to be quick, cheap and easy. As our political and economic mess worsens, recent polls show solid leads in favour of a people’s vote on any Brexit deal and a slowly growing, but slim, majority for staying in the European Union.

Democracy did not start and stop on June 23 2016. As David Davis said: “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”

The 2016 referendum was a vote on an idea. Leave offered no agreed plan. Every Leave voter had to decide for him/herself what Leave meant.

A people’s vote on the terms of any Brexit deal would be the first time the people have a choice between two concrete options: what we enjoy now as an EU member and a poorer deal outside it. A people’s vote would be quite different from 2016.

It would ask about the plan for Brexit, not the idea. It is like buying a house – if we don’t like the survey, we have the right to withdraw our offer.

Even Jacob Rees-Mogg has argued: “we could have two referendums… it might make more sense to have the second referendum after the negotiation is completed”.

Furthermore the people only gave the government a mandate to negotiate Brexit. No one takes a project from idea to implementation without renewing the project plan.

Brexit is unravelling as the government can’t agree what form Brexit should take. The Chequers proposals have pleased no one. Theresa May has run out of road.

Any more concessions to the EU and she risks a leadership challenge. If she offers no further concessions to the EU, she risks no deal. It is widely believed parliament will not accept any deal.

Therefore a leading scenario must be that, like Harold Wilson and David Cameron before her, a British prime minister again contracts out internal party differences to the people to resolve in another referendum.

RICK CHILES
Camden for Europe Group

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