THE BLOG
20/01/2019 11:22 GMT | Updated 20/01/2019 11:22 GMT

A Second Referendum Is May's Only Hope To Get Country Behind Her Brexit Deal

If the Prime Minister believes in her deal, she should have nothing to fear from putting it to the electorate

PA Wire/PA Images

No-deal must be taken off the table, but so must no progress. That is why we met with the Prime Minister and senior members of the British Cabinet this week.

It is almost laughable that after close to two years of negotiations, only now does the Prime Minister think it appropriate to extend an olive branch across the political divide from which she needs support.

There is nothing funny at all about an increasingly isolated Prime Minister playing Russian roulette with people’s livelihoods. Leaving the EU without a deal is no laughing matter.

Without wholesale change Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement is dead: but with wholesale change, her negotiating position will be in tatters. Her deal or her demands, one of them has got to give.

Or, of course, there is another solution.

If the Prime Minister must stubbornly insist on maintaining her arbitrary ‘red lines’ then it is incumbent upon her to win the support of the people who really matter in all of this – the public.

If Mrs May wants to break the current House of Commons log-jam, whilst broadly sticking to her current agreement with the EU, she must actively seek the people’s support in a referendum.

The Prime Minister and her dwindling allies ought to be reaching for this opportunity to have her deal accepted or rejected once and for all. Put the Government’s deal to a People’s Vote and then we will know what the real options before us are.

After all, no amount of timid tinkering is going to resolve her numerical issues in Parliament.

Plaid Cymru believe plainly and unapologetically that continued membership of the European Union is in the best interests of Wales. Unlike the Brexiteers, this isn’t based on blind faith, but the facts of the matter – Wales will be better off in Europe than out of it, no credible analysis has found otherwise.

But, if the Prime Minister believes in her deal, she has nothing to fear from putting it to the electorate.

So quickly are her options closing down if the Prime Minister wants her deal to survive past next week it will need the life support of a People’s Vote.

Allowing the people to endorse or reject her deal and to set a decisive timetable for its implementation would provide certainty. At a time when the devastating effects of parliamentary paralysis are not only being felt in the political sphere but in the economy too, the value of certainty is difficult to overstate. 

The Brexit impasse is the single biggest issue that Parliament has faced for decades. Created by a Government more intent on chasing unicorns than finding solutions, their irresponsibility is on show for all to see. And it is our country and constituents who will pay the price. A People’s Vote is the only route to safety and sanity.

We are willing to work with any party to find a way forward, but compromise must mean movement on their part. More meetings is not a plan, it is a distraction from the solution. The solutions which we have offered, on which the Government must now act.

Staring down an exit from the European Union without a deal is not the time for political game-playing. If the Prime Minister is willing to widen her worldview beyond the Tory backbenches she will find constructive-yet-considered support from across the political divide.

Plaid Cymru’s vision of a People’s Vote is not a re-run of the 2016 referendum. Instead, we envisage a compact of civility on its conduct. Far from being divisive, a People’s Vote could be a way of healing the deep rifts in our countries and communities.

A People’s Vote is an opportunity fix our democracy and wrestle it back from those who use it to push the politics of hate.

The risk of a no deal Brexit is a real and serious threat looming larger every day. It hangs like a grey cloud over the Welsh people and Welsh economy as our clocks tick closer to 29 March.

The Prime Minister must by now have learned that a negotiation requires some give-and-take. Our cooperation is on offer but not our charity. 

As well as taking the ‘no-deal by default’ scenario off the table, the Prime Minister must indicate progression on a People’s Vote. For cross-party discussions to be meaningful we must be able to see some positive indications of conciliation on her part.

Adam Price is leader of Plaid Cymru

Liz Saville Roberts is leader of Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Group