Author Archives: Richard Taylor

The Question

A public vote on Brexit seems to be gaining in popularity; no longer just a view of those undemocratic Lib Dems it is now in the mainstream.  However there is no consensus on the question(s) to be asked in a referendum.  Many options are being floated and I believe the Lib Dems should have a consistent view that can be propounded in Parliament and elsewhere.

Most questions seem to be chosen at random and do not reflect any underlying principles.  I would suggest the following principles: 

  • All three options currently available (Remain, Leave on May’s terms, Leave with No Deal) should be on the ballot paper.  Some have suggested ignoring a No Deal Brexit.  Doing this would ignore the wishes of a sizeable proportion of the electorate and would lay the referendum open to claims of misrepresentation.
  • Only options available without further negotiation should be included.  Otherwise we are voting on something that may never be available like in the 2016 referendum.  Thus we can exclude the current Labour option which is unclear and which, in my opinion would not be acceptable to the EU (its somewhat ‘cakeist’).  Also to be excluded would be a ‘managed’ No Deal which would have to be negotiated.
    • The question should not be the same as last time.  The main argument of the opposition is that a second referendum is undemocratic because the people have already spoken.  Lib Dems have already been clear on this.  The first referendum established that the government should negotiate terms for leaving the EU.  Another referendum has the objective of judging those terms, the final terms, when these are negotiated.  This is the way unions conduct labour disputes, how people buy houses and many other decisions.
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