Before we start, “I want to be very clear about this”, nobody is suggesting ignoring the 2016 referendum result.
The world has moved on, we have far more information. It is entirely appropriate to ask people whether they are still of the same mind.
Theresa May asked the electorate to confirm who they wanted to govern the country after barely 2 years. Nobody said that ignored the previous election result, or that it was undemocratic. Tory MPs wanted a vote on who is their leader after 2 1/2 years, and had one.
Democracy is not something that happens every 5 years, or every 41 years in the case of the referendum, it is a system which should regulate how our country is governed every single day.
Indeed in recent time, on more than one occasion we have had to fight to be democratically governed, against a government seemingly intent behaving as a Theresa May dictatorship.
Those who propose fighting a General Election on the basis of Theresa May’s flawed deal versus membership of the EU are being disingenuous, as are those who are seeking to take advantage of the government’s Brexit incompetence to force a General Election in an attempt to gain the keys to No 10.
There has never been a party that has campaigned on EU membership as its sole manifesto issue. A manifesto is expected to contain a whole set of statements on policy and objectives that address the issues of the day, statements which with luck will not be mutually exclusive.
In any event, both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May stick to the dogmatic and largely meaningless mantra of “Brexit is Brexit”, and insist that the referendum result from 2 and a half years ago must be followed, apparently regardless of the damage to the UK and its citizens and residents.
EC/EU membership has divided all parties to a greater or lesser extent since the early ’60s.
In the 1975 referendum on continuing to be an EC/EU member, as in the 2016 referendum, the debate and campaign crossed party lines. As someone who listened to both, I have to say the 1975 debate/campaign was conducted to a far higher standard by both sides.
A General Election is a vote on which party is best able to deal with the multitude of issues facing the country (currently, for example, NHS funding, curbing of excessive influence of those who have most money, climate change, social care, social division, growing the economy, housing, Trident) over a five year period.
A referendum on a single issue such as membership of the EU is a fundamental matter that has consequences for peoples’ whole lifetimes, and those of their descendants.
Those consequences are not just the damage to the UK’s economy, the effect on UK citizens resident in EU27 countries or the effect on EU27 citizens resident in the UK.
There are direct and significant consequences, ignored by the UK’s politicians, the EU and the leaders of almost all the UK expatriate groups, for millions of UK residents with property, financial, business and family interests in EU27 countries.
These are the Millions in the Margins who have been “thrown under the bus” as an expedient solution for dealing with, or rather ignoring, people’s rights and obligations established by 45+ years of membership of the EU.
We now have so much more information on the actual, practical consequences of deciding to stop being a member of the EU than we had 2-3 years ago.
It is only reasonable to ask the electorate to confirm which of the options they want Parliament to take: Theresa May’s deal, or for the UK to continue as a member of the EU. It seems clear that the only opinion with a clear-cut majority is that No-Deal is completely unacceptable.
Dominic Grieve makes the arguments for a People’s Vote forcibly in his forward to Roads Not Yet Explored – Routes to a Final Say which sets out ways that this can be brought about.
Once we have settled the issue of Brexit, which is dividing the parties and the country, we can have a national debate and an eventual General Election to decide on the government best able to deliver what is best for our country on the multitude of hugely important issues being ignored by the current government.
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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.