THE BLOG
21/11/2018 15:36 GMT | Updated 21/11/2018 15:36 GMT

There Has Never Been A Mandate For Brexit

The '17.4 million' who voted Leave were voting for different things

Evening Standard

There are only two possible Brexits – the Brexiteers’ lies about the UK’s power to push the EU around and negotiate a third way have now been shattered.

The first is a no-deal Brexit, which ‘takes back control’ but would damage the economy and undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

The other is a Brexit-in-name-only (BRINO), which would protect the economy but tie us into European economic rules without giving us a say when they are made.

Theresa May’s ‘backstop’ will invariably lock us into the latter. The political declaration that she claims will determine our future relationship with the EU is not legally binding and is not worth the paper it is written on. If we want frictionless borders with the EU we will need to follow the EU’s rules.

BRINO is far worse than remaining in the EU, because we gain nothing compared to EU membership but lose our seat at the table.

The only reason anyone would support BRINO is because it is better than no-deal. Theresa May says this is the only choice available, because the referendum result in 2016 took Remain off the table. The sanctity of the 2016 result is now the only reason that she gives for pursuing her course.

She treats ‘the will of the people’ or ‘the 17.4million’ as the sacred reason for her pointless course.

But it is now obvious that there never was such thing as the unified will of 17.4 million people – the fracturing of the Conservative Party proves that. One side says ‘this is Brexit, this is the will of the 17.4million people’ and the other side stands up and says, ‘this is not Brexit, this is not the will of the 17.4million people.’ The obvious truth that is staring us all in the face is that they are both wrong.

The 17.4 million included people wanted opposite goals. The Boris vs Gove split on whether to back May’s deal is the clearest symbol of this fact (they were the unified leaders of the Leave campaign). The Sky poll last week also showed that 32 per cent would prefer to leave without a deal, and 14 percent would choose May’s deal. Once we separate out those different goals, the number of people who voted for any one thing would clearly be less than 17.4million.

It has been a heresy in British politics for the last few years to challenge the original referendum result, but I think we need to stop mouthing nonsense. The vote for Leave was fundamentally contradictory and undeliverable. The 17.4million people did not share a common will – more people voted for Remain in 2016 than for any other one thing. There has never been a mandate for Brexit.

We must have a People’s Vote.

James Ward
Wera Hobhouse MP marching for a People's Vote

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