Theresa May talks a lot about the damage to democracy that another Brexit referendum would do, seemingly oblivious to the damage she is doing to democracy herself. A prime minister whose flagship policy has won gold in the Biggest Defeat in Parliamentary History contest. Who inherited a Commons majority and lost it when seeking a specific electoral mandate for her version of Brexit. Who has lost control not just of parliament but of her cabinet. Who has lost the respect of fellow EU leaders who see someone out of her depth, unable to deliver what she promises, and unable to keep her word. Who is helping to reduce the UK, whose politics historically is respected around the world, to a global laughing stock.
And I wonder if she ever reflects on the fact that her entire strategy is to keep asking MPs the same question, when nothing has changed, in the hope they change their minds; but it is an affront to democracy that the British people, almost three years on, when so much has changed, and so much more is known about what Brexit actually means, should not be allowed to express a view.
As we fight for a people’s vote, there are bound to be differences of opinion on tactics about how best to prosecute the case in parliament. Today was not, in my view, the right time to seek parliamentary support, though I share the passion for a people’s vote of those who tabled the amendment. But today was about securing the extension to Article 50 and allowing the world to let the chaos in government sink in.
The right approach for the People’s Vote campaign is to be the solution of this crisis, not one of the options within it. The coming days will see all sorts of options tested and failed. We will see there is one way out of this mess.
Opponents of a referendum on the outcome of the Brexit process argue that it will be divisive, expensive, and anti-democratic. It will certainly be divisive. But does anyone think we are united now, or that we are likely to unite around any of the options currently being debated? The costs will be nothing compared with the tens of billions Brexit has already cost us, and the costs of the economic decline that will follow. And far from another referendum being undemocratic – given that the Brexit that was promised has been shown to be undeliverable, the Brexit Theresa May has negotiated is hated by just about everyone, given the lies and the crimes and the broken promises it has exposed – it is frankly anti-democratic for there NOT to be another vote. Based on what you now know, do you wish to proceed? How can that be undemocratic?
Might the real reason Theresa May fears it be that she knows if her agreement is put to the public, it will be rejected; and the reason hard Brexiteers hate the idea of another vote is that they would not win support for their approach either.
And please, spare me the nonsense that this is about some metropolitan elite trying to overturn the will of the people, when the loudest supporters of a hard Brexit are Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nigel Farage and their billionaire cheerleaders in the media and disaster capitalism.
The people should have the Final Say. And the people have the chance to show how much we want it at the Put it to the People March next Saturday. It will come immediately after the EU summit where May will try to secure the extension parliament has voted for. It is going to be big. We need to make sure our MPs know, the people demand the Final Say, and there will be a big price to pay if we don’t get it; and Europe needs to see that whatever message they get from the country’s leaders that Brexit is a done deal, whatever the costs, the chaos or the consequences, that is not the will of the people.