21 September 2019 – today’s press release

Labour must come clean about their Brexit plan – Lib Dems

Responding to reports that Labour will only decide which way to vote in a People’s Vote after a general election, Liberal Democrat shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

It is totally unfair of Labour not to be clear about their plan in government.

Through choosing whether to support leave or remain after the election, millions of remain Labour supporters could help elect a leave government.

Instead remain supporters must back the Liberal Democrats in a general election. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit.

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51 Comments

  • “Labour must come clean about their Brexit plan – Lib Dems”

    But,but they have any number of plans depending upon what you believe. They have a plan for everyone, OK it isn’t the same plan but tell them your views and they pull a plan out for you. A plan for me, a plan for you, even a plan for Glen.

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd Sep '19 - 10:26am

    @ Frankie,
    I believe that the foremost concern for many, is removing Boris Johnson and his ilk from office. This will require tactical voting on behalf of individuals, a strategy that most individuals that I know employed in the European election and will use in the next General election.

    I voted Green in the European elections to deny Brexit an additional seat, and it worked for like minded people such as myself. In the next general election I will be voting in a Conservative seat and the best option to rid us of a Tory MP is to vote Labour.

    General elections are about more than Brexit, they are about ridding ourselves of a government that disgraces our country and thwarting its plans. Brexit is just one step in the direction that it intends to lead us.

    I really would not put much faith in polls for voting intentions for the next G.E. given the extraordinary times we are living in. If Johnson et al do get back into power, it will be because opposition from MPs to him and his Tory Brexit policy is fragmented.

    As individuals it is important that we do what squabbling politicians are failing to do, using our limited power of a vote in a first past the post system. I don’t think people need telling how best to do that.

  • Jayne,
    You might be right if Jeremey wasn’t a committed Brexiteer ( sorry Lexiteer ) but he is. So you are faced with the devil and the deep blue sea. Jeremey will badly damage the country with his Lexit and Depeffle will badly damage it with his Brexit. The only quick solution to this clusterfeck is revoke and under Jeremy that will never be an option, so I’ll vote with my concious, safe in the knowledge voting for a bad or sad party isn’t helpful in anyway, so I might as well be true to myself.

  • Jayne
    As you say yourself the last election (and indeed 2015) are no guide to what will happen this time, nor indeed polls.
    Yes, I want rid of the Tories, who support no deal, but I don’t want Labour and Lexit either.
    Given our FPTP election system the next election will be one in which seats can be won with as little as 25% or indeed lost on a similar figure. So people should pile in and vote for what they want, not against what they don’t really want.
    If you don’t want either Brexit or Lexit – and I suspect you don’t – then voting for a party that can’t make up its mind (Labour) gets you what you don’t want. Apparently Labour will try and negotiate Lexit and then campaign against it in a referendum. If you believe that then clearly you believe in the tooth fairy and the existence of unicorns.

  • David Evans 22nd Sep '19 - 1:03pm

    What Frankie says is pretty well spot on. The Cons always wanted a Conservative Brexit and Labour a Labour Brexit. May’s Con Brexit wasn’t supported by her ERG wing and failed. Now Boris is trying to force through a Con ERG Brexit.

    Jeremy wants a Labour Socialist Corbynite Brexit, but many of his MPs would rather settle for a more Blairite New Labour Brexit.

    Lib Dems in the main want to Remain, but even here we have the EU is always right grouping and the EU is the best but definitely needs a lot of improving – which is the position of many long standing liberals including me. For example, anything that allows any employee of the EU to be “immune from legal proceedings in respect of acts performed by them in their official capacity” in any EU state, makes those at the top untouchable and those at the bottom only susceptible if they don’t toe the EU bureaucracy’s line. People effectively above the law in their home state is a very dangerous situation to be in.

  • jayne mansfield 22nd Sep '19 - 2:51pm

    @ Mick Taylor,
    I voted remain and in a referendum I would vote remain again, but this time with greater confidence.

    I don’t believe in the tooth fairy or unicorns, but I do believe that people turned out in large numbers to vote in the referendum and that one cannot just ride roughshod over the fact that more people voted for leave than remain.

    I am opposed to referenda on the grounds that few of us, me included, were and still are unable comprehend the complexity of our relationship of the EU, and in my opinion, many voted with less understanding than I, because the business of day to day life takes precedence over reading or listening to often difficult arguments, whether it be on immigration. ( I don’t know whether the devil has the best tunes but s/he certainly has the simplest ones. ) I also believe that the way in which it was conducted was crass. A matter of such significance to the future of the wellbeing of our nation ought never have been decided on the basis of a simple majority, etc. Nevertheless, that is all water under the bridge and I am afraid that extremism in my book, is an approach that fails to acknowledge the views of those who turned out in the referendum.

    I only recently came to the view, after seeing MPs struggling with a a parliamentary route out of the mess, that another referendum was the only answer to a failure of our parliament to find a way to respond to the divide that has opened up in our society. I would no more try to predict the outcome of that than I would to predict the outcome of a general election. However, if we are to have a referendum, one must first have a deal that can also appear on the ballot paper, and I believe that given the failure of Mrs May’s deal, it ought to be an improved deal that keeps us as close to the customs union and the single market as possible. I would still vote for the remain option, but those with a different and less firm belief that we should remain in the EU, have the right to an option of a good deal rather than a bad one.

  • I’m still waiting for someone to pop up to explain to me that Jeremy is playing a blinder and is just waiting his time to pounce off the fence.

    The voters outside looked from fence to Jeremy, and from Jeremy to fence, and from fence to Jeremy again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

  • Bill le Breton 22nd Sep '19 - 9:19pm

    It is time Lib Dem activists accepted that if the General Election was fought tomorrow 3 and a Quarter million people who voted Labour last time would voted Lib Dem.

    Yes 3,250,000 of them plus all those Conservative remained horrified by Johnson. Plus all those Greens lending us their vote in an epoch making Election.

    The numbers are awe inspiring. And this is before the proper campaigning with Corbyn leading for Labour and before most people get the hang of the fact that it’s Johnson or Swinson.

  • If we expect an election very soon, perhaps we should be looking forward to the next one, in 2024, perhaps? It looks quite possible that the Con artists will win an early election. That would leave them to cope with post-brexit; and they are incapable of clearing up the consequent mess. Come the following election, there will be no doubt in anybody’s mind, about how bad the situation, who caused it, and who failed to sort it out. Would the Cons win again?

    Five years seems a long time, but it will take a while for Lib Dems and others to conceive and hatch good and original plans for doing things better. We must look ahead, and start thinking creatively. Think and dream — not how to improve today’s world, but what a truly better world could be like, and how to get there from here: destination first, then route. And then how to sell it to the electorate, come the time.

  • Well Roger they have their first major Brexit test, getting the Thomas Cook tourists home. Now I know the Brexi’s and Lexi’s will wail tis not the fault of Brexit this happened, but it helped push them over the edge. Let us see how they cope because if ( or perhaps I should say when) they fail, ask the question of yourself “If they can’t cope with Thomas Cook how the hell can they cope with Brexit”.

  • Bill le Breton 23rd Sep '19 - 5:10am

    Roger the Tories are not going to win. The 31/10/19 deadline will pass and with it the Tory minority Government of 2019.

  • Can we have a reality check.
    The Lib Dems did well in the very low turnout Euro elections, but were still beaten by The Brexit Party. They did well in the even lower turnout local elections. But are not going to beat the Tories or Labour in a general election based on a single issue stance. There are currently 18 Lib Dem MPs and a third of them are defections. You might get another hung parliament, but the pronouncements of Swinson make a coalition difficult. The Conservatives are likely to win more seats than last time and if they fall short of an overall majority will stick with DUP, whilst Labour would probably approach the SNP. In short the Lib Dems have isolated themselves by making demands they can’t expect to be delivered on. Plus in a general election Labour will focus on Swinson’s voting record and austerity, whilst both the Tories and Labour will dig very deep into the idea of the Lib Dems being antidemocratic. It doesn’t matter if it’s fair. Look what happened to UKIP, riding high in local elections and coming top in the Euros then getting nowhere in a General Election, before being consigned to history a couple of years later.

  • UKIP where replaced by Frarages latest vanity project Glen, when he fell out with the low grade people in it ( he has such a way with words and seems to have little time for his supporters). I know you want us to join you on your crusade for a village for local people, safe from the big bad world, but that really doesn’t face the reality of the world we live in.

    By the way don’t you and the rest of the Brexi’s have an over time budget, you seem to go missing at the weekend.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Sep '19 - 7:20am

    Glenn: Corbyn and Johnson as Labour and Tory leaders make coalition difficult. Lib Dems are not obliged to prop up one or the other in the event of a hung Parliament. The last election resulted (unexpectedly) in a hung Parliament, and we refused.
    The Brexit Party (and UKIP before it) run almost exclusively air-war campaigns. This works for PR based elections like the Euros, but has no traction at all in FPTP elections (UKIP never “rode high” in local elections).
    Lib Dems are not going to take lectures from either Labour or Tories on democracy. Of course we are going to be attacked over our policy, but why does everyone assume that the attacks will stick, and that we won’t be able to counter them? Maybe that would have been the case under Clegg (although as I’ve stated elsewhere I don’t think he would have run with the Revoke policy) but our current leader so far seems much better able to fight back. Some commentators seem to take a rather deterministic approach and think they know exactly how election campaigns will play out, but as the 2017 election shows, they don’t necessarily turn out as expected.

  • Frankie
    I’m too busy being “a bit exotic” in my small little village of Birmingham to indulge you.

  • Alex Macfie
    It’s not a case of taking lectures or lessons. The attacks will stick, because a lot of people already think it and it will lead to a lot of time spent having to be refuted. You could rightly use the representative democracy argument, but the problem is that about 80% of the public lean towards the delegate model. As for not propping up governments, how would the Lib Dems react if the other political parties insisted on replacing Swinson as a condition of entering government?

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Sep '19 - 8:59am

    Glenn: The people who “already think it” are mostly people who are not going to vote Lib Dem anyway. And the fact that it’s been announced as a flagship policy well before any election has been called means that we can price in the effect of any backlash over it, and respond effectively to criticism. It’s not something that’s going to suddenly bite us in the back a few days before the election, because it’s already ‘out there’ as our USP. Both Nick Clegg and Theresa May squandered strong opinion poll ratings during an election campaign because of stuff that had been snuck into their respective party manifestos that they weren’t able to defend.

    We’re not talking of demanding replacement of leaders, only that the present Tory or Labour leader not be Prime MInister. This would be like Labour insisting on Churchill rather than Chamberlain as PM in 1940 in return for joining a GNU, but Chamberlain remained Conservative party leader. Other parties can demand what they like of us in coalition talks; we have the right to refuse them, and likewise vice versa.

  • Alex Macfie,
    We’ll see. I suspect the Lib Dem vote will increase a little, but not anything like as much as enthusiast of Revoke think.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Sep '19 - 9:49am

    @ David Evans,
    It is not like you to be so careless with language, When did Labour want a Labour Brexit?
    It may be some of those at the top or surrounding the leadership might be assumed to have wanted it, but whether it was the voters in the EU referendum, the membership, Labour MPs, I don’t see how you can make such a sweeping generalisation which is not borne out by the facts.

    @ Frankie,
    I think that you might find that Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit, as with his skill set as far as leadership is concerned , now meets more criticism from his party than praise. Whilst the goings on at the Labour conference where time that should be spent promoting the policies that have been formulated, some of which I enthusiastically agree with , has been painful to watch, I don’t think the broad coalition of people who are Labour members are in any mood to bolster fence sitting.

    I quote: ‘When the facts change my mind, What do you do Sir?’

    Is that a quote that only applies to Liberal Democrats?

  • Gosh Glenn, coming from you any suggesttion of an increase in vote is equivalent to a Tsunami!

  • Well Jayne if the facts change I shall indeed change my mind. The only problem for those alwaiting for Jeremy and Co to change their mind, is they seem wedded to the fence. So although Unison have seen the light. After much pressure Momentum have decided to sit on the fence with Jeremy and friends. There are many people in Labour who support a similar view to many Lib Dems ( on Brexit and other policies) but and it is a big BUT most of the leadership and it would appear the union block votes do not. Until that resistance is over come, Labour will sit on the fence for all seasons facing both ways.
    The fundamental problem Labour have is the power of the unions. What Len wants appears to be of much more concern than what the average member wants ( no matter how many of them there are). It may be one member one vote, unless you are a union baron in which case it is one member tens of thousands of votes. Ironic really, we need a strong union movement but the one place they are still strong is the wrong place.

  • BTW the idea of a democratic “mandate” is more in line with the “delegate” model than the “representative” model. Winning an election outright is said to give a party a “mandate” to govern. It’s not that everyone else is obliged to support the party in government, but in practice the governing party’s MPs generally vote with the government, and it’s difficult for the opposition to do anything about it.

  • Alex Macfie (on the Revoke policy): “The fact that it’s been announced as a flagship policy well before any election has been called means that we can price in the effect of any backlash over it, and respond effectively to criticism.”

    OK – so you think it’s fine to adopt a policy which quite unnecessarily puts us on the defensive, and gives us a problem to explain away, provided we think we can handle it well enough to keep our losses to the minimum? Perhaps we should just add, for the next election, that we also think we have a perfectly defensible stance on gay sex, which is that our policies are a private matter between ourselves and our Creator?

    “It’s not something that’s going to suddenly bite us in the back a few days before the election, because it’s already ‘out there’ as our USP.”

    On the contrary, the few days before the election is precisely when it will bite us back. You know how campaigns go. Right now, we’re on 17%, and the only thing our opponents need say about a “We’ll Revoke if we win a majority” policy is “Hopelessly self-obsessed deluded small third party!” However, we do generally get a “late surge”, and we might expect our poll scores to edge up toward something like 20%, 25% or possibly higher in the final week. When that happens, the tabloid slogan will be “Yellow Peril!”, and our opponents will intone that our threat to scrap Brexit on the basis of a tiny vote compared with the seventeen million who voted to Leave is the greatest constituional menace of all time. And our vote will deflate like a pin-pricked balloon.

  • @David Allen – Scared of saying boo to a goose?
    There is nothing to fear but fear itself!
    Do you really thing the ardent Brexiteers care about the vast majority who did not vote for their particular interpretation of Leave? Remember whilst 17.2m voted for ‘leave’, zero voted for whatever leave Boris et al try and deliver.

    The Conservatives have demonstrated that they themselves don’t internally agree on a particular Brexit.
    Labour is trying to keep their options open, however, if they get into government, they will have to address the divisions in their party around just which Brexit they support.
    In contrast the LibDem position is simple; the detail of what Remain actually means is something that can be addressed in the years to come as we participate in the conferences giving form to the evolution of the European Project.

    Yes the tabloids will be stirring things up – they want a fight – it sells papers. So prepare for it and stand firm. Revoke isn’t a defensive policy, it is simply the responsible and sensible thing to do.

  • David Allen 23rd Sep '19 - 1:15pm

    Roland,

    Explain to me why a dodgy policy (Revoke on the basis of a minority vote) is in any way superior to our previous long-standing policy (We will fight to Remain and promote a second referendum to settle the issue in a properly democratic way).

    “Scared of saying boo to a goose? There is nothing to fear but fear itself!”
    Rubbish. If you present the voter a dodgy policy which is easy to attack, you will lose votes. If you don’t care about losing votes, then you should care.

    “Do you really think the ardent Brexiteers care about the vast majority who did not vote for their particular interpretation of Leave?”
    Look, I couldn’t care a fig what ardent Brexiteers care about. They’re the enemy. They won’t vote for us. Don’t pander to them by giving them an excuse to argue that we are just as contemptuous of democracy as they are.

    Sure, Labour is making a pig’s ear of Brexit, and the Tories are making a pig’s ear of it. Your argument seems to be that maybe we won’t poll too badly, even if we also make a bit of a pig’s ear of it. Well, maybe not. But, think how much better it would look if we were the only major party who were NOT making a pig’s ear of Brexit!

  • Glen,
    We have in the past pandered to the siren call of listen to me forsake your core vote and listen to me. Why in the Coalition the chase for unicorn voters was the holy grail. In the end we lost our core vote, got a few kind words from the unicorn voters who then trotted off to vote Tory. So fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I would caution against paying any attention to unicorn voters, they will promise you much but will always find an excuse why they can’t vote for you this time, as they trot off to vote for your opponents. Look after your core and your core will look after you.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Sep '19 - 1:46pm

    Roland, frankie: Exactly this. The “Tim and Fiona” post today shows exactly how not to, and how to, respond to the charge that we are in any way “undemocratic”. We need to prepare our “Fiona” response. Don’t be apologetic, be bold and forceful in our defence.
    David Allen: Any If you don’t want to put us “on the defensive”, then we mustn’t have any radical proposals at all. And the “17M voters” stuff is a dog-whistle for pro-Brexit voters, who we already know exist. It will not reach any Remainers inclined to vote for us.
    Regarding the “gay sex” stuff, I assume you are referring to Tim Farron. He could have shot down the “gay sex / sin” question immediately if hw had responded with something like “That’s not for me to say, ask a bishop. But I firmly support gay rights, [give examples] and so do the Lib Dems as a party [give more examples] .” Unfortunately he fluffed it, and that is why it haunted hmi throughout his leadership. Whatever we are attacked over (and they will find something), we are having to learn to shut it down quickly. Sometimes, as with the “Taliban” remark, this means condemning it and asking for an apology. Other times (as with Revoke), it means a prepared “Fiona” type response. Still other times (as with the Farron issue, where he failed) it requires firmly but politely denying the relevance of the question and moving quickly onto what is relevant.

  • Arnold Kiel 23rd Sep '19 - 2:01pm

    The revoke-policy does not risk leaver-votes, who never would have voted LibDem. It might irritate some remainers (our voter-pool) who prefer the second-referendum way. Those are the people we have to address, and there are many good arguments that will eventually cut through (of course to remainers only): the time (add the time for the GE, the formation of a new Government, the duration of new EU-UK negotiations, the passage of this agreement through Parliament, the referendum campaign, the enactment of the result) and money (frozen investment, employment, housing, GBP, and public sector funding) lost, the psychological cost of another mendacious and divisive campaign, the pointless banality of a Corbyn-deal (all obligations, no say).

    Let’s not forget that the referendum-course requires a much longer Art. 50 prolongation, well into the new Commission’s term and the coming budget negotiations, to be agreed to by all member states. For the eventuality of a leave-result, the financial settlement would have to be recalculated based on a reset of the implementation-period…

    A never-ending nightmare which is hard to defend if properly thought through.

  • The electorate like simple solutions and to know where a party stands. Revoke gives the Lib Dems both of those, but, but the Brexiteers won’t like it, the Daily Whail won’t like it, neither will the Sun, so true but at least they’ll have a reason not to like us, before that they had to manufacture one and they did. They are not our friends, they are never going to be our friends, so accept that and stop worrying what they think.

  • David Allen 23rd Sep '19 - 3:42pm

    “the Daily Whail …. are never going to be our friends, so accept that and stop worrying what they think.”

    I accept that. I don’t care what they think. I do care when we stand in front of the target and hand them the rifle to shoot us with.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Sep '19 - 5:18pm

    David Allen: The way for us to “stand in front of the target and hand them the rifle to shoot us with” would be to be mealy-mouthed and apologetic in defending our policy. This is the mistake we made in the past. The way we win against them is by stridently defending our policy and fighting back.
    The people who buy the arguments against our Revoke policy that you imagine would kill us aren’t going to vote for us anyway. Why pander to them?

  • Frankie
    I’m still too busy being “a bit exotic” to indulge you.

  • David Allen 23rd Sep '19 - 7:21pm

    “The people who buy the arguments against our Revoke policy … aren’t going to vote for us anyway. Why pander to them?”

    The argument is that it is not democratically legitimate to overturn a majority referendum vote on the basis of a minority General Election vote. This argument appeals to those who believe in democracy, fairness, even-handedness, consensus, and stability. Now, what party or parties do you think people with such ideals might normally vote for? The Brexit Party? The Revolutionary Communist Party?

    Or, mightn’t a few of them, just possibly, normally vote Liberal Democrat? But perhaps not any more, if the Liberal Democrats abandon liberal democracy?

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Sep '19 - 7:38pm

    David Allen: It is not going to appeal to such people when it is clearly a dog-whistle for Brexit supporters. And what you forget is that your definition of “democratic legitimacy” is not the only one. It is equally valid to say that the referendum itself was not democratically legitimate due to malpractice (and that it would be pointless re-running that exact same referendum as so much has changed since then). There is also the argument that referendums are themselves undemocratic.
    You also seem to forget that voters don’t generally tie themselves up in philosophical knots about what is the democratically “right” thing to do. Arguments about whether Revoke without a referendum is right or wrong is angels-dancing-on-a-pinhead to voters who are much more concerned about the real-world consequences. And no, that does not mean they won’t be bothered with Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament, as this has very real consequences for democracy. The democratic implications of our Revoke policy are only philosophical, and depend on how much you value the 2016 referendum as an exercise in democracy.

  • Alex Macfie
    About 30% of Lib Dem voters opted for Leave. So they’re mostly lost votes for a start. As the revoke stance raises the idea of what is “democratically right” you are asking for voters to consider it. According to you they will be bothered by the technicalities prorogation but not by dismissing 17 or so million votes.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Sep '19 - 9:11pm

    Glenn: Prorogation is not a “technicality”. The whole point of Parliamentary democracy is that Parliament holds the government to account. If the government can prorogue Parliament at will, then who is to hold the government to account? It could just abolish Parliament altogether and appoint the PM as dictator for life. This is far more important than whether we abide by an advisory vote 3 years ago. And this “17 million votes” is sloganeering, and generally taken as such.

    To understand what I mean by voters not caring about what is philosophically “right” or “wrong” in a democracy, consider that the Lib Dems participate in the House of Lords, although we oppose it in its current form and seek to replace it with an elected 2nd Chamber. We participate in it because that’s the system, and for all its flaws, it is a useful way to hold the government to account. Attempts to paint us as “hypocrites” over this approach to the House of Lords (typically by Corbynistas and their equivalents) have never gained any traction. Or consider the Eastbourne by-election of 1990, which was won by the Lib Dems, kick-starting the party’s revival under Paddy Ashdown. Because it was caused by the murder of the Tory MP Ian Gow in an IRA terror attack, there were calls for the Tory to be given a clear run out of respect for the late MP. But this didn’t happen, and all major parties put up candidates and fought it seriously. The Tories tried to play the “sympathy” card, putting out leaflets saying things like “A vote for the opposition is a vote for terrorism”, but this backfired, and attempts to paint the Lib Dems as immoral opportunists for fighting the by-election have never gained traction.

  • Alex Macfie
    I think you’re just dismissive and flat out wrong about voters, which will lead to severe disappointment when an election finally is held.

  • I have to agree with Glenn. Politicians are raging against prorogation but the same characters when told they can go to the voters as soon as October 15th reply “Oh, no we don’t want that”.
    The electorate will conclude the obvious.
    The stance on ” We demand a second referendum unless we actually get the power to hold one, when we won’t” is unbelievable.
    The defence is
    1. the people won’t care about this obvious nonsense or,
    2. the people who see through it wouldn’t have voted for us anyway
    Well we will see if it works but it seems to appeal to only the most devout remainers at the expense of all other voters. I look forward to Jo defending this in a televised pre election leadership debate when some very competent opponents will put this absurdity on the rack, very publicly.

  • Martin at 6.31,

    Fair question. I think the alternative to “Remain”, in a People’s Vote, should be to Leave with what is somewhat misleadingly described as “May’s Deal.” It’s really “Barnier’s Deal”. The Withdrawal Agreement is, as the EU patiently explain, the only deal on the table. It is not thoroughly irresponsible, because it avoids the nightmare of a hard Irish border, and because it also provides the essential conditions for the continuation of large-scale frictionless trade, which Remainers and Brexiters alike have taken as a given.

    It ought also to be acceptable to most Brexiters, because it is only an essential first step. It would leave the subsequent choices, whether to soften Brexit with an SM / CU agreement or to harden Brexit by transition to a weaker “super Canada” trading relationship, to a later decision (the Political Declaration). Those choices would then no doubt become our next big political contest over the two-year, or longer, transition period. The Brexit Party would squawk (when do they ever not?), but would then throw themselves with relish into that ongoing contest.

    Labour would instead first like to negotiate the “Labour Brexit”. That could take years. Barnier would find a whole new array of unicorns to slay (such as Labour’s “close relationship with the Single Market” which does not actually mean following all the Single Market rules!) Those who favour a soft Brexit should recognise that it can best be negotiated during a transition period, when there is time to develop something workable.

    Some will say that a “Remain versus May’s deal” vote is an imperfect solution. I agree. But there is nothing better. Similarly, Churchill could find nothing better to offer than blood, toil, sweat and tears. But Churchill understood that leadership meant seizing the least bad option, and engaging the nation to make it work.

  • Peter Martin 24th Sep '19 - 5:22am

    @ David Allen,

    ” It (May’s deal or Barnier’s deal or whatever you want to call it) ought also to be acceptable to most Brexiters”

    There’s no chance of that. Any poll which offered a choice of “it” or remain will simply be boycotted.

  • Alex Macfie 24th Sep '19 - 9:03am

    Hard Rain: We opposed Johnson’s bid for an election because we did not trust him not to set the date (which would have been in his gift) at after October 31st, meaning the UK would have crashed out of the EU during the election campaign.

  • There is no alternative to remaining LibDems could defend: the WA is based on idiotic red lines (and would, if approved, give the UK 5 years of a Johnson/Trump regime). Stephen Kinnock is either also paid by Putin or really as stupid as he appears.
    Nobody in his/her right mind can support no-deal, and any alternative would require many months of EU-patience (running out) and UK-limbo (already reaching crisis-point).

    As we know by now, a decision by a majority op MPs (irrespective of their popular vote share) produces a higher quality result than one by a majority of the electorate, because:
    1. The Parliamentary process would exclude fuzzy proposals such as “just leave”
    2. Names of responsible politicians will be taken and remembered
    3. The effect of a biased press, improper online campaigns, and lies would be very much dampened.
    Not even Cameron’s Tory majority would have produced a leave-vote in Parliament. The extremist minority would have been clearly visible as such, had it not had a deceptive referendum to hide behind.

  • I often agree with David Allen, but not on his interpretation of the UK Constitution.
    It has been widely accepted for several hundred years that the party with a majority of seats has won a General Election and is entitled to implement its manifesto.
    Yet now, he argues that if our party won the General Election on a clearly defined policy, it should act as if it hadn’t won and not implement its top manifesto policy. Just look where not implementing pledges got us in 2010!
    In our (uncodified) constitution no parliament can bind its successor. Also an advisory referendum cannot bind a parliament either. The next parliament will be the 2nd after the referendum so it will have a clean sheet on Brexit and can do what the majority of MPs want it to do. MPs are our representative, not our delegates and are elected to consider the issues and make decisions on them. That’s the democracy we’ve been dealt and until it’s changed we have to play by its rules.
    Of course, a future LD government will implement STV in all elections and parliaments elected after that will have greater legitimacy than currently, but we are where we are right now.
    If we fight and win an election based on revoke, remain, reform and tackle the issues that gave rise to Brexit, then we should not hesitate to implement our manifesto.

  • @Peter Martin – “Any poll which offered a choice of “it” or remain will simply be boycotted.”
    That simple comment, raised by many Brexiteers just serves to demonstrate – once again – we aren’t dealing with ‘adults’, that is the sort of response I expect from a child having a tantrum: they only want what they want and nothing else will suffice. I suggest paying too much attention to these people risks Brexit becoming a realworld Lord of the Flies…

  • Martin,

    You argue that a referendum vote with Remain and May’s Deal on the ballot paper would be the least bad referendum option, but would nevertheless be “hopeless” and “justifiably ridiculed.” So, in your judgment, the Lib Dems must be quite wrong to state, as they presently do, that they will continue to support a second referendum under any circumstances at all. No, even if the Lib Dems fail to win a majority, they must (in your view) campaign for a unilateral Government decision to revoke without further public consultation. In your view, evidently, the Liberal Democrat party should seek in all circumstances to reverse the previous referendum result simply by Prime Ministerial fiat – perhaps (you don’t say) requiring a confirmatory vote in Parliament, perhaps not. Thus, the way to reverse the result of Muhammad Ali versus George Foreman is to say that boxing is a dreadful idea, so there will be no more title fights, we will simply strip Ali of his title and hand it over to Foreman.

    This is not going to convince the nation that the Liberal Democrats can be trusted with power. It is a serious attempt to descend towards parity with Boris Johnson in the riding roughshod over constitutional norms.

    Arnold Kiel, Mick Taylor,

    You present a more nominally rational defence of the view that our constitution permits, under all circumstances, Parliament to make critical decisions without recourse to referenda. Yes, it does. There was no overriding constitutional principle which required us to hold the referendum of 2016, or for that matter of 1975. However, in point of fact, those referenda were legitimately held. Whilst their results were nominally advisory, no such result has ever been nullified or reversed, other than by holding a second referendum. To do so now would be constitutionally unprecedented.

    Could the public ever show a broad consensus in favour of accepting such an unprecedented exercise of untramelled Governmental power? Yes, I think it could – If, for example, pro-Remain parties had won an overwhelming majority of the General Election vote, or if it was broadly agreed by all that the case for Brexit had collapsed. Are we in such a position? We are a million miles away from it!

  • Alex Macfie 25th Sep '19 - 6:33am

    David Allen: “Nominally” advisory? “constitutionally unprecedented”?!? What on earth? Yes, the LAW said the referendum was advisory, so if that means it was only “nominally” advisory, then there is some made-up rule that sits above the law that says it’s binding.

    Overriding the 2016 referendum result would in NO WAY be “constitutionally unprecedented” because there is no provision for referendums in our constitution. What Boris Johnson has attempted to do is “constitutionally unprecedented” and unlawful. But any legal challenge to a new government revoking Article 50 without a referendum on the basis of a supposed “constitutional” precedent that we obey referendums would be laughed out of court (and I’m sure someone would try).
    Once again, our “unwritten” constitution does NOT mean that we make the rules up as we go along, and that would be a very dangerous way of setting constitutional principles. “Uncodified” is a better word than “unwritten” to describe our constitution since it’s scattered in various statutes and case law. The UK has held occasional referendums, one of which (AV) was binding as specified in the relevant legislation, and government and Parliament have opted to abide by the result. This does NOT make a constitutional principle. Maybe I’m wrong, and a court will rule that the Swinson government acted unlawfully by revoking Article 50 without a referendum. Then I shall hold up my hand and say “I was wrong.” But case law so far has gone the other way: the courts have ruled that the Government could not use Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 after the referendum result.

  • The comical thing is that Remainists have lost the referendum, lost two Euro elections in a row and are almost certain to lose a general election, yet think they should get to hold another referendum before Britain as even left and that they should they should dictate the questions in this referendum. This tells you a lot about what the EU mindset. They are basically imperialists who think sovereign countries should be locked into their Pan European Political unification project forever and ever. The best way to shut them up is to hold a referendum on how we should leave the EU without giving them a remain option, as the question of membership has already been decided by a plebiscite. The Lib Dem as the biggest Remain Party have shot the other options down by insisting that if elected (less lightly than hogs being borne aloft upon silvery wings to the sound of heavenly trumpets) we would remain in the EU anyway and if the referendum they think they should dictate the terms of was held they would continue to try to fight anything but a remain result!

  • Daniel Walker 25th Sep '19 - 10:52am

    @Glenn “lost two Euro elections in a row

    Come on Glenn, UKIP in 2014 won a plurality, but Brexit didn’t win a majority, or even close.

    in 2019, it’s harder to draw conclusions – John Curtice called it a draw – but it certainly fair to say that “no deal” didn’t win.

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