Stopping Brexit – why WE must ratify or reject the deal

by phildunn on 3 April, 2018

A couple of weekends ago some of you may have seen me on BBC South’s edition of Sunday Politics. I had been invited to join a panel of six “leavers” and six “remainers” to discuss where we currently stand with Brexit.

 

On the programme I had the opportunity to confront the Conservative M.P. Tim Loughton over the progress, or lack of, being made in negotiations. I also issued him the following challenge. If government is so certain that it can negotiate a deal that will be outstandingly good for Britain, put it to the vote and I will back it.

Unsurprisingly, he did not take up this challenge and merely accused me of suggesting a course of action that would be “divisive for the nation”. This leaves me wondering how much more divisive such a vote could be. Could it be any more divisive than the 2016 referendum, based on falsehoods and lies that split the nation down the middle?

Brexit represents a major constitutional change in the United Kingdom and I can think of no other modern democracy that would allow such a change on the basis of spurious claims and an extremely marginal majority.

To change the Constitution of the USA, for example, it requires a proposal from either house of the U.S. Congress which is backed by a “supermajority” (ie two thirds)  or a constitutional convention to be called by two thirds of the nation’s state legislatures. For the amendment to then be approved it has to gain the support of 75% of the states of the union. There are no circumstance under which a constitutional change could be forced through by a majority of 52%!

Returning to Brexit, the division Tim Loughton warns of  has already been caused. What we need now is to start healing the nation.

It is my belief that a vote to ratify the final arrangement would be the exact opposite of a divisive exercise. The vote would be taken, not on claims and counter claims, falsehoods and distortions, but on the facts of the deal as put before the nation. There could be no room for argument over the deal itself as the people would vote on a concrete package drawn up between the UK and the EU. Furthermore, if the referendum presented a choice of leaving on the terms negotiated, or remaining in the EU on our current membership terms the issue would be crystal clear and, I suspect, would draw a more convincing majority than the extremely marginal one seen at the 2016 referendum. I would contend that there should be a “supermajority” for Brexit to come into effect.

Huge numbers of people are now realising that Brexit has become an exercise in delivering what nobody voted for, either Remainer or Leaver. The Brexit of 2016 meant numerous different things to different people, but a ratification vote could leave no doubt in people’s minds and could “put the matter to bed” for the forseeable future.

In such a ratification vote I would campaign to Remain within the EU unless it was crystal clear that leaving the EU would make us all healthier, wealthier, happier and more at peace with ourselves and our neighbours. It goes without saying, perhaps, that I can’t forsee any circumstances where that would be the case.

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