On 23 June, I will be marching on Parliament alongside tens of thousands to demand a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.
But this week, HuffPost published a blog by Tom Holder explaining, despite being a strong supporter of a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, he won’t be joining us. His reason, so far as I understand it, is that he could not find anything on our campaign’s website saying we wanted the option of staying in Europe in such a vote.
Let’s sort this out once and for all. My view – and that of everyone who works on the People’s Vote campaign – has always been that the people of Britain should be given the choice between leaving with whatever deal the Government eventually negotiates, or staying in the EU. We said that at the launch of our campaign and I’ll say it again whenever I am asked.
But what we need to do first is to get MPs to back the principle of a vote – to let the people take back control of this botched Brexit. A People’s Vote would allow the public, rather than politicians, to make the final decision about whether to accept the Brexit deal. We need to make our campaign as inclusive as possible of everyone worried about Brexit, from ardent Remain campaigners like Tom Holder, to Leave supporters who know that the Government is botching Brexit and are beginning to realise the bad deal it is negotiating will leave Britain as a country in decline.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find anyone who believes Brexit is going to succeed. Indeed, after two years of posturing, political games and petty point-scoring in Westminster, a recent opinion poll for YouGov found only one in ten people who still believed Brexit was going well. We need to persuade the 90 per cent now to back a People’s Vote.
New facts have come to light about the costs and complexity of Brexit – such as the £40billion divorce bill – that no one knew at the time of the referendum.
Promises have been broken like the one about £350million a week more for the NHS. Now Brexit is adding to the staffing crisis that leaves the health service without the doctors and nurses we need.
Above all, the Government has made a complete mess of Brexit as it lurches from crisis to crisis and cannot even agree its basic negotiating position on the big issues. Political leaders in both the main parties have ordered MPs to back a hard Brexit that will destroy jobs and hit the poorest areas of our country.
Decisions being taken in Westminster this week mean the UK is going to get a bad deal on Brexit. But the Government was forced to make a last-minute concession because they knew they were going to lose a key vote on giving MPs a meaningful vote before Britain takes the final decision to leave. It’s now up to MPs to use the power they have to make sure there is a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.
More and more people – Leavers and Remainers – from every region, every political party and every walk of life, are demanding a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal before we leave the EU.
No one voted for a bad deal on Brexit in 2016. Two years later we can do something about it and show the strength of feeling that exists in the country about getting a People’s Vote.
I hope Tom will join us. He can meet me at Pall Mall at 12pm on June 23. I promise to hand him a placard personally. And – tell you what – after the rally in Parliament Square, I’ll even buy him a drink.
James McGrory is the Executive Director of Open Britain, one of the pro-European groups that supports the People’s Vote campaign