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Opinion: Time for People’s Vote as Brexit nears

PUBLISHED: 10:30 09 August 2018

PA Archive/PA Images

The clock is ticking and a Brexit “no deal” outcome is coming ever closer.

Hard Brexiteers will win by default – the prime minister is surrendering to her own hard Brexit MPs, rather than producing realistic proposals that could form a genuine position to put to the EU.

This negotiation involves two sides: the UK and the EU, not Theresa May and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Four days after the “Chequers deal”, the London Assembly’s Economy Committee held a session on Brexit.

All the experts from whichever side agreed that this wasn’t a comprehensive plan to protect our capital’s economy and Londoners’ employment, risking 90,000 jobs.

Ninety-two per cent of London’s economy is services based, entirely omitted from the government’s pitch.

Moreover, the experts agreed there wasn’t a hope that Brussels would accept it anyway.

And where was consideration of migration and its role in the future needs of our economy?

What about the futures of EU nationals in the UK (in London we are home to a million EU nationals) and UK nationals living in the EU?

Even before the ink was dry on the Chequers plan, we had David Davis’s and Boris Johnson’s cabinet resignations.

This was followed by chaotic votes in a deadlocked parliament on the government’s policy and strategy in their White Paper, shredding what little remained of the prime minister’s efforts to find a Brexit she could put to Brussels.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier soon buried Theresa May’s post-Brexit customs partnership with the EU; and warned that attempts to appeal to EU leaders over his head were a waste of time, killing off the Chequers plan.

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group has confirmed MEPs will refuse to vote for any UK Withdrawal Agreement that waters down commitments to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“No deal” is tremendously dangerous.

While no deal on trade may be an outcome, albeit unwelcome, we cannot risk no deal on all the other elements of our relationship with the EU, which are being overlooked in the internal Conservative Brexit bear pit.

For example, we cannot countenance leaving without an agreement on aviation or planes won’t fly; or on crime, terrorism and security.

The impact was recently explained by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

And what of the risk to our food supplies – a risk we haven’t faced since the dark days of the World Wars’ U-Boat campaigns?

Brexit is far more complicated and dangerous than the Brexiteers want the country to think.

If our parliament fails to approve a deal, then everything is on the table, including the possibility of another referendum or a general election.

So isn’t the time coming for a People’s Vote – a second referendum – on the final outcome, and with an option to remain?

This time we could all make a properly informed choice – hopefully with an objective and scrutinising BBC, without fake news, abuse of social media, broken campaign spending limits, and Russian (or President Trump’s) interference.

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