Why I’m calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal
The most frustrating thing about Brexit, through my eyes, is how unbending everyone is.
The Prime Minister suffers defeat after defeat yet keeps coming back to Parliament expecting a different outcome. I truly fear that if we carry on like this faith in our political systems, institutions, and culture - which is the envy of much of the world - will totally collapse. Something has to give.
All the way through the Brexit process I’ve done my best to give our community voice. I’ve worked with a team of MPs across Parliament to come up with ways through that respected the referendum result, could carry a majority in the Commons, and limit the damage any Brexit would do to our long term potential as a nation.
But we’ve been driven to a different destination. It’s a place where both main parties are split over Brexit and factions have widened and deepened over time, not healed. Neither party can be united around a single way forward with enough numbers to carry a vote, and both party leaders have opposing views on the next steps. So we’ve reached gridlock.
A couple of weeks ago I sat down with fellow backbench MP Phil Wilson, who represents Sedgefield in the northeast, which voted leave. We talked about ways through the current mess that showed equal respect for the communities we represent, and after a while a compromise plan started to emerge.
Our plan is to table an amendment to the ‘meaningful vote’ which Theresa May must hold before the end of March, and it makes an offer to government and gives it an instruction. The offer is that the Commons will allow her ‘deal’ to pass through parliament. The instruction is that her deal must be put back to voters for a ‘confirmatory vote’.
This is very different to the 2016 referendum. That referendum was advisory, this one will be binding. Even better, the second the deal is confirmed by the public it will go onto statute without ever needing to return to parliament. Conversely, if the country refuses to confirm the deal then the status quo is maintained and government is instructed to revoke Article 50, again without having to return to parliament.
It means our compromise plan is not a ‘neverendum’ or ‘best of three’. Our plan offers a definitive end to this nightmare, one way or the other.
If the plan is endorsed by the public, then Remainers will have to accept that they voted on facts and not just the promises of 2016 and we will have to dust ourselves down and work hard to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. Similarly, Leave supporters would have to accept the same if it goes the other way, but at least we will have come together as a parliament, which has voted, and as a country, which will also have voted. In our minds it’s a democratic double-lock. It is the best hope we have of moving forward and healing our divided nation.
So our plan breaks the gridlock in parliament, offers a definite and definitive end to the Brexit withdrawal nightmare, and is the best chance we have of healing our politics and country. I owe it to our community to give this everything I’ve got and that’s what I’m doing.
Peter Kyle is the Labour MP for Hove.