UPDATED: Bercow rules out a third attempt by Theresa May to get her Brexit deal passed – how should the Liberal Democrats respond?

In dramatic scenes in the House of Commons, The Speaker, John Bercow, has ruled that Theresa May can’t hold a third vote on her Brexit deal without major changes to it. This appears to leave only five options;

  • No deal;
  • No Brexit;
  • Seek a long extension to allow time to negotiate a new deal;
  • Prorogue Parliament to allow a new session in which the deal can be brought back, and;
  • A General Election

Here’s some early reaction from the Party…

UPDATE – we’ve now received the official press comment…

Responding to the decision by Commons Speaker John Bercow to rule out the Conservative Government holding another vote on its previously rejected Brexit agreement if the motion remains “substantially the same”, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It has been an outrageous waste of time witnessing the Prime Minister not only delay the meaningful vote time and time again, but then repeatedly bringing it back to a vote unchanged.

I cannot understand how Theresa May expects MPs to change their minds, but will not give the public that same right.

Any Brexit deal will be worse than what we currently have as members of the EU. The only real way out of this chaos is to offer the public a people’s vote, with the option to stay in the EU.

So, should we now be calling for revocation rather than referendum? Let us know what you think in the comments…

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  • Zoe O'connell 18th Mar '19 - 4:35pm

    Revoke Article 50 now.

  • Charley Hasted 18th Mar '19 - 4:37pm

    We have to revoke A50 now. This is just getting beyond a joke.

  • Party policy – passed this weekend – is clear.

    If we reach less than 7 days from Brexit day, we will revoke article 50.

  • Quite simple.
    Democracy should prevail and we should now leave with No deal to honour the referendum result.

  • Paul Barker 18th Mar '19 - 4:41pm

    So far, May hasn’t even asked for a delay. With only 11 days before we crash out we have to make it clear that its got to be a Public Vote or we withdraw Article 50. time is running out.

  • @Mark

    We were told that a vote to leave would mean leaving the single market and leaving the customs union.
    We were told we would seek a FTA with the EU or we we would resort to WTO rules
    We were told that this was a once in a generation vote and the government would implement the peoples choice.

    The people spoke and they chose to leave.

    The Government has negotiated a deal, however, some in parliament seem to be intent on blocking ANY deal that was negotiated.

    I ask you, how would Liberal Democrats feel if the AV referendum had been won only for the Tory Government to then block it from being implemented, you would be screaming from the rafters and stocking up on sandals in preparation for your demonstration marches up and down the country..

  • Revoke article 50.

  • I take it that because a 2nd referendum was rejected in parliament LAST WEEK.
    Then that is not allowed to be brought back again for ANOTHER vote during this parliament.

    The Speaker is supposed to be Impartial, so surely he will not allow double standards here and allow another vote on ANOTHER referendum.

  • Revoking Article 50 would be the grownup thing to do. There would be screaming and shouting for 6 weeks. Most people will be glad to get Brexit off the TV.
    Pushing to revoke Article 50 might make the People’s Vote the compromise choice

  • Alex Macfie 18th Mar '19 - 5:17pm

    @matt: The Brexit referendum was advisory, as enshrined in the legislation. The AV referendum was different, as the relevant legislation enshrined that the electoral reform would have been automatically implemented via statutory instrument along with the boundary changes if the Yes vote had won. If the Tories wanted to torpedo AV in that case, then they would also have had to kill off the boundary changes. And while statutory instruments *can* be overturned, it’s not easy, and if the Tories had tried that, then their Lib Dem Coalition partners would simply have pulled the plug on the Coalition.

  • @Alex Macfie

    potato patata.
    We were still told that the Government would implement the decision, it was written and promised to the people in the leaflets sent out to every household.

    “And while statutory instruments *can* be overturned, it’s not easy, and if the Tories had tried that, then their Lib Dem Coalition partners would simply have pulled the plug on the Coalition.”
    The point is, They can be overturned and if the Tories had gone against the Will of the people and it’s coalition partners, there would have been an uproar about democracy, betrayal and trust.

    On the upside, it’s humbling to hear Liberal Democrats would have pulled the plug on the coalition for something at least. Shame they didn’t do it on welfare cuts, or NHS reforms, or any of the other abhorrent things the Government did, but still, good to see what would have been the priorities.

  • The standing order not allowing the same proposition to be put twice could be overturned. So if the Government got the votes but nothing else had changed it could first have a vote to suspend the standing order etc. (I am not sure that it is a standing order as such but Bercow did say the House of Commons could suspend this and is reported as such in the Guardian’s rolling live coverage).

    It is of course unlikely that the DUP and indeed most ERG MPs would vote for the deal unless there was some change – if only to save face.

    I did say in previous comments that the Government could introduce the statutory instrument to alter Brexit Day at 22.59 on 29th March and it does look as if it will now get fairly close to that!

    Although very unlikely there is the small possibility that we could be “half in half out” – may be that is the solution 🙂 ! With Brexit day having being pushed back – so we are still subject to EU law in British Law and theoretically at least no customs checks would be needed but also the EU27 not allowing us to delay Brexit and extend Article 50! (Although there is a solution to this – May writes a letter revoking article 50 and then five minutes later one triggering it!)

  • @matt 18th Mar ’19 – 5:10pm

    Your point was put in points of order to the Speaker but presumably if the deal had changed (and so was a different proposition) then amending it to put it to a referendum would be a different proposition as well!

  • David Evans 18th Mar '19 - 5:39pm

    @Matt We were told by some, that a vote to leave would mean leaving the single market and leaving the customs union, and we were told by others that it wouldn’t.

    We were told by some, we would seek a FTA with the EU or we we would resort to WTO rules and we were told by others that we wouldn’t.

    We were told that this was a once in a generation vote and the government would implement the peoples choice.

    Unfortunately for some, in the 2017 Election a lot of voters trusted Theresa May to implement Brexit and chose to forget that all the Conservatives are good for is stabbing people in the back once they are in power and haven’t got a clue. Many others voted Labour to implement Brexit, and chose to forget that all Labour are good for is stabbing each other in the back and haven’t got a clue.

  • @David Evans

    “@Matt We were told by some, that a vote to leave would mean leaving the single market and leaving the customs union, and we were told by others that it wouldn’t”

    But to be fair David, the only ones who really matter on who said what (on this matter) , were the No 1 and No 2 in Government at the time and that was David Cameron and George Osborne, Both of whom said that leaving the Eu would mean leaving the single market and customs union.
    What ever, any other Tom, Dick or Harry said about it doesn’t really matter compared to those 2

  • Alex Macfie 18th Mar '19 - 5:48pm

    @matt: Government promises are not binding on anyone (and if they were, that would pretty much kill off representative democracy and Parliamentary sovereignty). The ONLY thing that matters is what it says in the legislation. The Brexit referendum was explicitly defined in legislation as advisory, while the AV referendum legislation defined how the measure (if successful) would have been implemented, which would not have required a vote on the floor of the House.
    The point is, @matt, your hypothetical scenario could not have happened, because it would have been virtually impossible for the Tories to go behind the backs of their Coalition partners to stop AV from happening if Yes had won. The legislation was designed to ensure it couldn’t easily happen. And if they did, that would have been the end of the government. Whatever you think of any other policy that the Coalition government implemented, it did not explicitly breach the Coalition agreement. But for the Tories to try to torpedo AV after a referendum victory would have been an explicit breach of that agreement, and it would have been virtually impossible for Lib Dems to stay in government with the Tories.
    So Lib Dems woud not have needed to prepare for any demonstrations or marches. We could just have given the Tories their marching orders.

  • Laurence Cox 18th Mar '19 - 5:49pm

    We need a two-stage second referendum:

    Stage 1 A binding vote on May’s deal Yes/No. Stage 2 If May’s deal is rejected then a binding vote on No Deal/No Brexit. If the latter wins then we also need to have European Parliament elections, but all three votes could be on the same day as the Euro elections results cannot be published until all European countries have voted giving us time to count the referendum votes first. An extension to Article 50 to the end of June 2019 would comfortably encompass this including passing the remaining legislation.

  • Venetia Caine 18th Mar '19 - 6:06pm

    Revoke Article 50 is obviously the ‘safest’ way forward for Remainers, but the current default position, according to last week’s vote, is to go for a long extension if the Commons have not accepted her deal, which they can’t now according to Bercow. A long extension will give time to get our referendum, which would be the honest way forward. What the people decided in 2016, let the people reverse in 2019. See you on Saturday!

  • @Alex Macfie

    I get what you are saying from a legal perspective, but lets put aside the legislative arguments for one second and focus on the principles of what was promised to the British People.
    Let us just say, that both the AV Referendum and Brexit referendum what legislated for in the same way “advisory” as you put it. But it was promised to the people that the Government would implement the choice that the people made.

    Can you imagine the uproar of the Liberal Democrats and of those who have been fighting for Political reforms, if they had won the vote, but then certain members in parliament managed to block those changes from ever taking place?

    Don’t forget there was a time when Liberal democrats were arguing for a full in / out referendum. Nick Clegg even lead his own party out of the house of commons in protest against the speaking for not allowing such a referendum to take place..

    I am sorry, but this whole debacle just reeks of opportunism and hypocrisy to me. is it any wonder that so many people have lost faith in the party.

    I also find it very telling that a 1/3 of Liberal Democrat Voters voted to leave the EU, but we hear nothing from them anymore, they are either silenced or feared into silence by their local parties

  • @Matt we were told by Leavers that we would get a good deal with the EU because amongst other things the German car Industry depended on it. We haven’t got a good deal so leave was wrong. Many leavers also said that we could stay in the CU and SM, so many will have ignored the Government on this and believed that line.

    We are now up to our necks in a full blown constitutional crisis which could see us crash out with no deal and lead to the break up of the UK and even riots on the street. You may feel comfortable that this would be democratic but at least 50% of the country might disagree. Would you in your heart of hearts really feel comfortable with that? Furthermore you’d sow the seeds for another referendum to rejoin the EU anyway so what’s the point of ducking a final vote now?

  • John Marriott 18th Mar '19 - 6:28pm

    If you listen to what the Speaker said, the onus is on May to bring back something different for Parliament to consider. What about Norway Plus?

    In any case, it’s unlikely that the Lib Dems will be major players in this latest comedy of errors.

  • @Christian
    “we were told by Leavers that we would get a good deal ”
    The problem has been with arch Remainers who have given clear signals to the EU from Day 1 that they would REJECT ANY deal from the EU in the hope of stopping Brexit. Why would the EU give a good deal in those circumstances knowing that they would probably be able to stop brexit from happening.

    The most ridiculous thing about all this is the fact that the Trade Agreement side of things has not even begun yet. The entire agreement should have been completed in full before any votes took place.

    Would I be happy to see us crash out of the EU with no deal? Absolutely I would and have never pretended otherwise as I believe in my heart of hearts that the EU is a busted flush that is about to come tumbling down and the further away we are from it, the better (That is my honest and truthful belief) Would I be happy with Riots on the streets? Absolutely not, I will never condone public disobedience or violence IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES

    “furthermore you’d sow the seeds for another referendum to rejoin the EU anyway so what’s the point of ducking a final vote now?”
    I would not have a problem with another referendum to REJOIN the EU because the principle would be that the democracy had prevailed in the first instance and we would have left in the first place. That is the point, it is not about ducking another voter now that most Remainers want to screw by ensuring that NO DEAL is not on the ballot paper

  • Paul Barker 18th Mar '19 - 6:47pm

    Apparently the Government will put forward new legislation to change the Leave date by “Next Week”. We are due to crash out next Thursday, no rush then.
    On a more general note we all need to show a bit more urgency. TIG need to form their New Party asap or abandon the idea & join Us. If they do form a New Party then discussions on an Electoral Pact or Umbrella grouping need to begin pronto. Its not just The European Election, we could be facing a General Election within Months. The Progressive Centre-Left need to get our act together.

  • This shows that we Not being threatened by a crisis, but that we have lived in crisis for hundreds of years. The Prime Minister’s plot seems to be coming to pieces. She wanted to run the clock down and force her party into line.
    The pantomime does show what happens in a country without a written constitution. And if the Prime Minister’s ream have not foreseen this it shows that there is a problem with the simple planning of government business.

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Mar '19 - 6:59pm

    “The pantomime does show what happens in a country without a written constitution. ”

    Good point

  • @Christian

    Are you saying that if we leave with no deal, you, other Liberal Democrats and remain voters will riot on the streets in that eventuality?

    I will turn the question to you. If Article 50 is revoked and the 17 million + Voters feel that their democracy has been thwarted and they end up rioting on the streets, Would you in your heart of hearts really feel comfortable with that? and as though it was a price worth paying so the “minority” (who voted) got their way???????

  • @Matt
    Lot’s of good stuff about “the will of the people”. Nothing at all about whether Brexit is a good deal for the country. Even Rees-Mogg and his ilk have given up arguing it is.

    Exactly why is a good idea for Britain to hand over political domination of the continent of Europe to a single political entity over which we (Britain) have minimal influence. That is to abandon England’s/Britain’s policy in place for over 400 years.

  • David Allen 18th Mar '19 - 7:03pm

    The biggest problem with the referendum is the awkward decision about “No Deal”. If a “No Deal” option is included on the ballot paper, then we encourage people to believe that it is a valid choice, despite knowing that it would cause utter chaos. But if “No Deal” is excluded, we risk a massive campaign for spoiled ballot papers and even rioting, against what would be widely seen as an “establishment stitch-up” for Remain.

    So we need to find a third way, and preferably one which avoids a three-way vote. Political geeks may love complex voting systems, but ordinary people distrust them – and we need to gain the trust of ordinary people.

    My suggestion is that a “Remain and Reform” option on the ballot paper should include a commitment to set up a Royal Commission, backed by a Citizens’ Assembly. This will examine why Brexit encountered insuperable difficulties over trade agreements and border controls, what factors motivated 17 million people to vote Leave, and what can practically now be done to meet the objectives of those Leave voters, if possible by developing new and more viable Brexit proposals which the EU could agree. Within five years, the recommendations of the Royal Commision would be put to the public by means of a further referendum.

    Yes, this would mean five more years of debate about Europe, but so will anything else we decide to do. The debate, on this proposal, would be offline. The EU would be under pressure to perform, and the shibboleths of free movement and an unstable common currency would face the brunt of that pressure. The 2024 Referendum might very well offer the public serious changes, perhaps based on substantial reforms to “free movement”, or perhaps developing a viable option for soft Brexit.

    Crucially, if “Remain and Reform” won a narrow victory (as might be expected), Brexiteers would do very badly if they simply cried foul. They would do best to embrace the new Royal Commission process to maintain their argument. Meanwhile, the rest of us could recover from Britain’s Brexit nightmare.

  • Frank Hollis 18th Mar '19 - 7:04pm

    Revocation will only provoke the Beleavers.

    We have to have confidence enough to ask the EU27 for another referendum between May’s deal and Remain.

  • Peter Martin 18th Mar '19 - 7:06pm

    Revoking Article 50 would be the grownup thing to do. There would be screaming and shouting for 6 weeks.

    I’d say that’s very unlikely. Revoking Art50 or asking for a long delay is exactly what the far right wants. They’ll sweep the board in the next Euro elections and start to make a significant breakthrough in Parliamentary by-elections. Even in a general election – if we have one.

    It’s all very dangerous.

  • Richard O'Neill 18th Mar '19 - 7:07pm

    Why does there seem to be such shock bordering on panic now. It has been clear for some time that the default position is that we will exit with no deal unless one is agreed. Ironcally a result of the Miller case, otherwise May could force her deal through using the royal perogative.

    Too much time spent trying to overturn Brexit completely, rather than an attempt to build a consensus for a soft Brexit. So soft, in fact, it would barely be a Brexit at all. It is one of the few things that would likely attract a majority in Parliament.

    Revoking article 50 (satisfying as it may feel) just won’t be possible in the current make-up of Parliament. At the moment, we are left begging the EU for an extension in the hope that perhaps a fresh election might change the mathematics in Parliament.

  • Richard O'Neill 18th Mar '19 - 7:17pm

    I’d add that a People’s Vote doesn’t necessarily break the deadlock. If it follows the same process as the last one

    1) People are asked. Vote a certain way.
    2) Parliament can’t agree how to implement the result. Deadlock. Calls for a fresh referendum.

    If the referendum isn’t binding there is no way to garuntee it will be enforced. For instance, if “No Deal” is on the ballot paper and wins are Lib Dems MPs and Peers pledging to vote it through? And vice versa are leave-backing MPs going to endorse a remain victory? This nightmare could be extended indefinitely.

  • I think we need to focus on a referendum rather than revocation. We have argued for the last 2.5 years that ‘the people should have the final say, not the politicians.’ And Vince told the conference yesterday that we’re going to be a big presence at the big Peoples Vote march on Saturday. I don’t see how we can then turn round and say we’re for revocation instead.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Mar '19 - 7:25pm

    As my friend said on Twitter, if the Government adopted the Kyle Wilson amendment, MPs would back the deal.

    I actually think there is more chance of me running the 15 miles into my office tomorrow morning than that happening.

    Our policy passed in York clearly states that if the Government has not got a deal through by Friday (one week before we are due to leave the EU) then we should call on them to revoke Article 50.

    I think we are going to have to make that call and make it loudly. People need to know there are several alternatives to a horrible no deal Brexit which is currently the default situation next Friday.

    I am sick to the back teeth of a government that is humiliating itself and all of us on a daily basis.

  • @Matt – so wait you would have the UK leave the EU to uphold the last vote and then have another referendum to go back in just as a point of principle? What’s the point of that? Why waste everyone’s time? Why not do have a vote when we know what leave looks like and see if people are still OK with it. The big fallacy is that we’d be having the same referendum again. We wouldn’t this time we’d actually know what leave meant!

  • @Christian

    “so wait you would have the UK leave the EU to uphold the last vote and then have another referendum to go back in just as a point of principle? ”

    No, that’s not what I am saying at all.

    I am saying that the result of the last vote should be implemented, as that was the democratic will of the majority (who voted) and should remainers win a consensus in parliament (at a later date) to hold another referendum to rejoin the EU, then I would be fine with that (that is democracy in work after all)

    BTW, you did not answer my questions in previous post. 18th Mar ’19 – 7:01pm

  • David Becket 18th Mar '19 - 9:17pm

    A motion to parliament to put May’s deal to the public with the option to remain in the EU is the obvious way out of the deadlock. It is likely that the Speaker will accept it. We are saying to the people parliament made a mess, over to you. If May’s deal wins we go ahead with it. Revoking Article 50 could be seen as going back on the decision of the people, where as asking them to vote now they have facts is empowering the people. It would need an extension, and the EU are likely to grant that to allow a peoples vote.

  • Richard O'Neill 18th Mar '19 - 9:46pm

    A new referendum would be preferable to a straight revoking. But what would the question be? It’s likely that if somehow a majority is scratched together for another vote, a fresh deadlock may ensure over the actual wording and choices on offer.

    But as people say above that to suddenly pivot from supporting the public having “a final say” to unilaterally overturning the previous final say is flawed. As much as all of us just want Brexit to go away.

  • Arnold Kiel 18th Mar '19 - 9:59pm

    Clear answer to your question, Mark: make Bercow LibDem leader

  • I suggested in an article for LDV in, I think, August that we should be campaigning for a Coupon Election. This would deal with the legitimate concerns of people like Matt, make it more likely that other Tory and Labour MPs would leave their parties, show the EU that there is a potential way out of this mess for the UK, possibly fatally weaken the DUP, force Corbyn and his supporters into the open, and so on. But it was comprehensively rubbished as an idea and instead we’ve carried on campaigning for the divisive “Peoples’ Vote”, which even were it to be achieved would settle nothing.

  • @matt: why on earth do you suppose the Lib Dems would have been so naive and stupid as to agree to an *advisory* referendum on electoral reform as part of a coalition deal? Maybe Clegg would have considered it, as he had such little political nous, but there’s no way the party would have accepted it. We don’t trust the Tories, as simple as that, and we certainly wouldn’t trust them to honour the result of an advisory referendum on something we supported and they were against. After all, the Tories (in opposition) voted against the creation of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, both of which were agreed in advisory referendums (you may remember this, it caught Theresa May out recently). Hence why the AV referendum legislation was written such that the proposed reform would have been automatically implemented had it been supported in the referendum. We would not have agreed to it had it not been. But even if it had been advisory and the Tories shafted us on it, then we could have walked out of the Coalition. But we would not have been so naive as to expect them to do anything else.

  • Pretending that ‘No Deal’ wasn’t an option is LDV imagination…Since day one Theresa May’s most often used phrase (apart from “Let me make it clear”) was “No deal is better than a bad deal”.
    That has morphed into “A bad deal is better than no deal” but, without an extension, “No Deal” is what will happen on 29th of this month.

    I think we should all calm down and accept the original advice given by Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg……
    Nigel Farage….“in a 52-48 referendum it would be unfinished business”
    Rees-Mogg…….”It might make more sense to have a second referendum after the re-negotiation”

  • As someone who has always been suspicious of referendums I understand why many people feel a referendum is necessary and could live with having another one of the damn things. But I can’t help feeling that euthanasia for Brexit might be the kindest solution. I think that means revoke.

  • Malcolm Todd 18th Mar '19 - 11:13pm

    Just revoke. This comedy has gone on quite long enough.

  • @Matt “We were told by some…”
    More fool you for believing their words at face value…

    As has been repeatedly pointed out the referendum was not binding on Parliament, it doesn’t matter what “the Goverment” said, Parliament agreed and that is what the legislation states, that it (Parliament) considered the referendum to be advisory and thus would not be bound by it.

    WhatI find amusing and saddening is how Bercow has caused so much uproar when he has merely restated what Erskine May, the parliamentary rules state and reminded everyone that it is Parliament that is sovereign not the Executive. About the only new thing here is that he has said that he won’t be complicit in T.May’s games.

    Remember, the real difference between the current Parliamentary debate and the non-debate on Maastricht and Lisbon is the Fixed Term Parliament Act. The PM is unable to make voting for her WA a confidence vote, a device used to get various treaties through Parliament without too much real debate.

  • A new referendum would be, in some hypothetical Utopia, the ideal mode of dispensing with the old, flawed referendum. But we are not in Utopia. In the real world, the victory of the No Dealers is just eleven days away and all they have to do is obstruct any constructive action. May’s “Deal” is dust. There are no other deals on offer. There are no guarantees that an extension will be granted (and no guarantee that an extension would be used wisely or well. If you do not want No Deal, there is only one guaranteed option:

    REVOKE 50.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Mar '19 - 11:36pm

    Tory and SNP on Newsnight, Labour declining to attend. Why no Lib Dem?
    This is not about a rule in standing orders, this is Erskine May (no relation to Theresa May)
    Cameron and Osborne have resigned and left the Commons. They cannot deliver on anything.

  • Will someone kindly tell me why I should not believe that any extension, of any length, would not be frittered away exactly as the past two years have been, ultimately to land us in exactly the same spot we are now?

  • Matt,
    You are quoting the remain sides views, the leave side said we wouldn’t be leaving the single market, that’s the side you voted for. You can’t now claim you knew because the side you voted for either didn’t or though telling the truth was a vote loser. You may now wish to leave and get poorer but if you do please don’t squeal when the cuts hit. Last thought a big plank of the leave campaign was giving power to parliament, well you have so be proud at what they do.

  • I agree with Caron to a point – I think we need now to revoke Article 50, but yes, this is going to cause the right wing of the Tories to go even more purple in the face. And, to be fair, it will anger a lot of otherwise sensible people as well.

    The fact is, all this stems from May invoking Article 50 much, much earlier than she needed to. There was no agreement, even within the Tories, as to what Brexit should look like; she made zero attempt to talk to anyone outside her party and little attempt within it to try to get a deal which people could accept, even if they didn’t like it. She knew from the outset that her “red lines” were not ones which the EU could accept, and her utter stubbornness has left Britain looking not like a country ready to stride confidently across the world, but a country which has a government only slightly more stable than Libya.

    If we revoke Article 50, then there needs to be something which will allow either a second referendum to take place, or an attempt again to reach another deal before that. Unfortunately, though, I think the divide in the population which has happened because of Brexit is now so deep that it will take a generation to recover.

  • Peter Martin 19th Mar '19 - 8:14am

    @ David Allen,

    But if “No Deal” is excluded, we risk a massive campaign for spoiled ballot papers and even rioting, against what would be widely seen as an “establishment stitch-up” for Remain.

    So what you need is an “establishment stitch-up” that doesn’t look like an establishment stitch-up?

    “My suggestion is that a “Remain and Reform” option on the ballot paper should include a commitment to set up a Royal Commission…….. Within five years, the recommendations of the Royal Commision (sic) would be put to the public by means of a further referendum.”

    The not-so-slight problem with this is that a Royal Commission doesn’t have any authority in the EU. In any case, the whole thing reeks of ‘establishment stitch-up’. It won’t wash.

  • John Marriott 19th Mar '19 - 8:32am

    I know it’s a little premature at the moment; but, whenever the history of these irritating/fascinating/enthralling times is finally written, I wonder whether anyone will put the blame on our voting system? I notice that the AV Referendum was mentioned earlier in the thread; but not for the reasons to which I am about to refer.

    It could be argued that it was our adversarial politics and the search for ‘strong and stable government’ through the auspices of FPTP that led us to the current impasse. (Cameron’s decision to go for a referendum in 2016 and May’s decision to go to the country in 2017) A proportional voting system, as is the case in many countries in Europe, because it usually produces coalition government, gets politicians of different views to work together instead of always appearing to try to score points off each other. Our national politicians, unlike their counterparts in local government, are just not that used to compromise. I’m sure that they do speak to each other in private and probably agree more often than some of us are led to believe; but you put them in front of a TV camera or on the green benches and most of them will probably be at each other like rabid dogs. What is the sentence you rarely hear coming out of a politician’s mouth? The answer; “Sorry, I was wrong”.

    Yes, compromising can seem boring to a public used to binary choices and confrontation and it might seem to some like a stitch up. It certainly doesn’t give political commentators the kind of fuel they need to do their stuff and it clearly starves newspaper editors of catchy headlines. I would say the same to all those advocating immediately revoking Article 50 and those pushing for a ‘People’s Vote’ asap. You are in danger of falling into the same confrontational trap as have both the Tory and Labour parties. But, judging from some of your comments in this and other threads, that’s what appears to turn you on.

  • Mary Tucker 19th Mar '19 - 8:36am

    It is disgraceful that this government is ruling by bribery and bullying . Parliament should take over and there should be cross party talks as to the best way forward . Parliamentary democracy means we trust the M P to represent us in the best interest of the whole country and not try to please us all . That is every individual , which equals chaos . I feel as though we have almost reached chaos and if all the moderate, decent M P s are deselected at the next election what are us tolerant sensible types (and too busy working ) going to have any power ?

  • I suggest our fear Brexiteers refresh their memories about what vote leave said
    To say the claims of the leave camp have not aged well is an understatement.
    As to a stich up Peter, well we have long predicted that when reality shreds your dream you would grasp onto the “Stab in the back” theory because it could never be that you voted for a fool’s dream. Your Brexit was never on offer, you are getting the Brexit you are being given by a political class that hasn’t got a clue. Rejoice though it’s a British political class and not done dammed furrins.

  • John we have a failed political system and Brexit has shown it has failed spectacularly, but our politicians are happy with Buggins turn failure, so expect no change.

  • Peter Martin 19th Mar '19 - 8:55am

    @ Frank Hollis,

    “Revocation will only provoke the Beleavers. We have to have confidence enough to ask the EU27 for another referendum between May’s deal and Remain”

    You’d be better revoking. If the choice were to be between May’s deal and Remain, the Leave side would simply boycott the poll. So, sure, there’d be an easy Remain win but on a ultra low turn out. Soft Remainers wouldn’t bother to vote because the outcome would never be in doubt. There’d be no democratic legitimacy.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Mar '19 - 11:05am

    “Might the current constitutional crises be a good time for our party to start campaigning for a written constitution?
    Might doing so enable us to promote a voting system which represents the views of the groups in the electorate more accurately?”
    Yes to both

  • @ David Allen: Based on the pathetic turn-out for Nigel farage’s “Brexit march”, as well as other pro-Brexit demonstrations, I suspect that the threat “riots if we cancel Brexit” would turn out to be a damp squib. (And anyway, in a democratic governments should not be deciding policy based on how violent extremists might react to it.) Contrast it with the ~700,000 people who peacefully demonstrated at the last March for Europe. The turnout could be even higher at the one this weekend. This BTW answers @matt’s quesitn earlier about whether Remainers would support or participate in rioting as a result of a no-deal Brexit. Of course we wouldn’t; we are largely a peaceful bunch. The rioting resulting from a disastrous Brexit would be due to the economic fallout from Hard Brexit, not ideologically driven as a result of the policy per se.

  • David Allen 19th Mar '19 - 5:20pm

    Peter Martin said:

    “The not-so-slight problem with this (i.e. David Allen’s proposal) is that a Royal Commission doesn’t have any authority in the EU. In any case, the whole thing reeks of ‘establishment stitch-up’. It won’t wash.”

    A Royal Commission doesn’t have to have any authority in the EU. The Royal Commission, in my proposal, would work up a new approach to the EU which would as far as possible deliver the objectives Leavers were seeking, perhaps by finding a new and more viable Leave option.

    The reason you want to airily dismiss it is because you don’t want compromise, you just want to go for broke, like so many disastrous people – and that’s on both sides of this argument, by the way!

  • David Allen 19th Mar '19 - 5:28pm

    Jennie and others:

    “Revoke article 50.”

    You and whose army, pray?

    Whatever policy one advocates has to be something that it would not be utterly crazy for the Prime Minister to do. If May revoked Article 50 now it would certainly split the Tory Party in half, and probably destroy both the halves. Ergo, it just ain’t gonna happen, however desirable it might be. It’s as mythical a unicorn as any of the other unicorns which throng the Brexit “debate”!

  • Richard Underhill 20th Mar '19 - 12:02pm
  • Richard Underhill 9th Sep '19 - 5:50pm

    Speaker Bercow has announced his decision to retire.
    Jo Swinson was among the MPs speaking.
    Probably LDV will report. I agree with Jo.

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