OPINION: Give the electorate a second referendum on Brexit

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 January 2018

copyright Fiona Campbell 2014

We are in a fight for our future: the future of our children, our grandchildren and of our country.

Brexit has mummified our government and left it incapable of governing. It is the most serious threat we have faced in our lifetime.

From the European Coal & Steel Community of the early 1950s to today’s European Union, the coming together of the European nations has kept peace and fostered prosperity in a continent that twice tore itself apart during the Twentieth Century.

We joined the European family in 1975 and now have access to the purchasing power of 300m of the world’s wealthiest and most prosperous populations in the world’s largest single market.

Our country has grown on the back of that membership.

Now we face leaving the enlarged EU family, a decision made by just 37 per cent of the voting population (52pc of those who actually voted), many of whom were conned with false promises.

Already plagued by a crisis of productivity, since the referendum we have had accelerating inflation and declining growth at a time of wage stagnation.

The complexities of Brexit promise to keep our government tied in knots and unable to concentrate on anything else for many years.

2018 is the crunch year that may or may not see a departure and/or a transition deal – one that every member of the EU will have to ratify before it becomes effective.

We risk sleepwalking into exit with no easy turning back while our government tries to seize unprecedented powers for itself and hopes the public is now so bored with Brexit that we view it as a foregone inevitability.

For certain, any trade deal will take years to finalise after we leave and can never replicate all the advantages and privileges of our current membership. Meanwhile, both our Tory government and the Labour party are charging towards Brexit like lemmings over a cliff.

To the Prime Minster and to every MP I say this: it is time to put country before party.

I am not suggesting a cancellation of Brexit by Parliament - that would ignore a majority vote in a fair referendum.

But, before the Article 50 clock strikes midnight, give the people the right to vote on any deal as it stands this autumn when the negotiations have to stop and ratification has to begin.

Any vote would be to adopt the deal and Brexit on the negotiated terms, to reject the deal and reverse Brexit or to reject the deal and crash out on WTO rules.

There is much to reform in our country - the charge of the electorate that successive governments have failed to invest in whole swathes of communities and thereby disenfranchised them in prosperous times must be addressed to avoid further deep divisions in our country.

Equally, the EU absolutely needs to reform but we are so much better in Europe with influence and driving the agenda for reform than not.

Europe’s own leaders recognise that they can no longer avoid change.

How do we get the final say that is rightfully ours?

If you are a Labour supporter, call out the Labour party for the incoherent cowardice of its current position and demand a policy that reflects their membership.

If you are a Tory, dare to stand up for what you believe in and have the confidence that an informed electorate will see Corbyn and McDonnell for who they are and will recoil from them in the voting booths.

Are there any Tory MPs out there who are prepared to go the distance to pass the hard-won meaningful vote back to the electorate?

However imperfect, only a referendum has the legitimacy to confirm or overturn a referendum.

We the people call on Parliament to work across party lines in the interests only of the country and pass the final decision to the only people who can make it – us.

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