A people’s vote: where Britain would go to the polls and revisit Brexit with a new perspective and possibly some new options.
PM May’s proposed “divorce” deal resembles a dead body laying face down in the water, with a couple of complimentary bullet wounds to add emphasis; needless to say, it won’t pass through the Commons. Once this happens, four doors of choice will creek open: 1) No deal (a default as Article 50 has already been triggered), 2) renegotiate (and go for a carbon copy Norway deal), 3) vote to rescind Article 50, or 4) opt to send the decision to the voters in the form of a “people’s vote”. Let’s explore that fourth option.
There may be, just about, the numbers in the House of Commons to get a people’s vote – with a caveat: The Labour party would have to come out in support of one. Stephen Bush, political editor of the New Statesman, has calculated that there’re at least 16 Labour MPs who would vote against the proposition of a people’s vote. That means the people’s vote advocates in parliament would need 21 Conservative MPs to play the part of rebel to overcome the power couple of the Conservative-DUP majority.
Imagine the Parliamentary arithmetic really did come to fruition, and a people’s vote was legislated for, would it actually be a good idea to run (another) referendum?
Another referendum would afford –as John Major would name them–the “bastards” an opportunity to further decouple the flesh from the already open and infected wound our society had incurred from the first Brexit referendum. Mention Brexit and all I can conjure to memory is: a news headline reporting that the man who offered £5,000 to anyone who would kill Gina Miller, the lawyer who had bought the legal challenge of Article 50 to the courts, had been jailed; Penny Mordaunt shamelessly lying on the Andrew Marr show stating that Britain didn’t have veto on Turkey becoming a member of the EU, and then the BBC plastering the headline “Penny Mordaunt: ‘The UK can’t veto Turkey joining EU’ ” without offering the counterpunch that the UK can; and how Labour MP Jo Cox was stabbed to death by a man who chose to give his name in court as “Death to Traitors, Freedom for Britain”. If you’re a people’s vote advocate, you’ll have to come to terms with the behaviour another referendum may be a catalyst for.
There is also the little-known fact that Britain is a representative democracy. The electorate votes for representatives, in the form of MPs, to deliberate over and make these decisions. The majority of MPs know that the right thing to do for their constituents is to vote to rescind Article 50 and remain within the European Union. However, because of the MPs’ deficiencies of courage, they choose to abdicate responsibility, fearing that their constituents will not like the truth. A people’s vote, then, would arguably set a precedent of cowardice and political convenience for future Parliaments – a referendum is a “get out of a decision free card”. If our MPs were to vote down Brexit it would be no less democratic than having a people’s vote. After all, they were too democratically elected. I agree with David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, when he said: “we have a duty to tell our constituents the truth. Even when they passionately disagree. We owe to them not only our ‘industry’ but also our ‘judgement’”.
Britain doesn’t need another campaign filled with obfuscation, hate and death; it needs MPs to do their democratically elected job. And, if some in our country attempt to inflict vitriol or violence on those who did their duty, we – supporters of democracy – should defend them from these fascists. Now, that would be “taking back control”.