Forget a second referendum!

For the UK to remain in EU, a second EU referendum on the terms of Brexit is a false goal. It implies Liberal Democrats will oppose the terms when they are known, whatever they are. We risk being accused of wanting the worst outcome for our country, to justify our opposition.

Actually, the terms don’t matter. Most Brexiteers, especially in government, just want to leave, without terms, a divorce bill or a transition, in order to end immigration and continental entanglements.

Calling for a second referendum, assumes Remain could win. The lamentable Remain campaign in the 2016 referendum and the leaderless and rudderless opposition since give no grounds for such confidence. The polls have barely moved. Brexiteers continue to set the news agenda, producing unlikely new media stars, while for Remain there are none.

The prime minister would not agree to a second referendum when it might not be in her best interests, especially after her disastrous decision to call an unnecessary general election. If there were a vote in the Commons, there might be only the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Green voting in favour. A second referendum would not be in the Labour leadership’s interest and Labour MPs, like Tory MPs, have shown remarkably little inclination to rebel.

Instead, we need to change the government. We need to bring together Remainers in all parties, overcoming Labour and Tory MPs’ misplaced loyalty to their Brexit leaderships, and build a Remain Bloc to secure and win a general election before March 2019.

In each constituency, there should be one Remain candidate and Liberal Democrats and Remainers in other parties should put everything into getting the Remain candidate elected.

Such a general election fought on the issue of Remain or Brexit would be the second referendum. If successful, Remainers would form a cross-party government to restore the UK’s position in the EU, provide Liberal solutions to the issues that led ordinary people to vote Brexit, and restore the economy justly.

Of course, the Prime Minister would not call an election to suit us, but if the Remain Bloc included Conservative MPs, her government would be unsustainable and the Bloc could force an election.

Liberal Democrats need to be in the vanguard of forming the Bloc. We are the only (with the Alliance in Northern Ireland) UK-wide party committed to Remain.

To do this Liberal Democrats must offer all the people positive messages of hope for the future of this country and how everyone’s lives will be better in the EU, but without the gloom of the 2016 referendum. We must stop opposing everything in sight for cheap votes. We must target all the people throughout the country, not just the few in a few selected places.

The Bloc must offer more imaginative and more down to earth leadership than Remain has so far.

I hope Vince Cable will already be reaching out to Remainers in other parties. I hope he will start building the Bloc and take Remain to victory.

* Ian MacFadyen is a Liberal Democrat member. He is a co-editor of The Leeds Yellow Book: Essays on a Liberal Future for Leeds. He was formerly the chair of Leeds East North East Liberal Democrats.

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45 Comments

  • …………..We need to bring together Remainers in all parties, overcoming Labour and Tory MPs’ misplaced loyalty to their Brexit leaderships, and build a Remain Bloc to secure and win a general election before March 2019…….

    Christmas is the time for fairy tales……….

  • David Blake 4th Dec '17 - 1:20pm

    The problem is getting a good message across which appeals to the public. That was tried in the referendum and was boring, boring, boring.

  • Richard Easter 4th Dec '17 - 1:28pm

    “………..We need to bring together Remainers in all parties, overcoming Labour and Tory MPs’ misplaced loyalty to their Brexit leaderships, and build a Remain Bloc to secure and win a general election before March 2019…….”

    The idea that voters will vote in a general election along Brexit / Remain lines in such a way I’m afraid is dead.

    I cannot ever imagine working class Remainers in say Leicester supporting an Osbornite Tory on a Remain campaign – nor for that matter upper middle class Leavers in say rural Kent supporting a Dennis Skinner style Labour figure on a Leave one.

    From my personal point of view, I’d sooner vote Dennis Skinner or John Mann, than say George Osborne or Amber Rudd.

    I’m afraid that ordinary voters have far more to worry about day to day than Westminster obsessions over rejoning the EU – a Remain Party with no ideology other than remaining in the EU, may as well stand under the banner of “The Corporate Party”.

  • Darren Martin 4th Dec '17 - 1:29pm

    “For the UK to remain in EU, a second EU referendum on the terms of Brexit is a false goal. It implies Liberal Democrats will oppose the terms when they are known, whatever they are. ”

    We have never said this, nor does our policy imply this. We are suggesting the very logical approach of being able to decide to go ahead with Brexit when all the facts are known. It’s just common sense policy, and one that has gained much popularity as the reality of the Brexit deal are becoming known.

    I take your point on a cross-party government, it’s a nice idea. But the problem is, there are many “remain MPs” who do not have the fortitude of character to back up their views in parliament. The Brexit legislation continues to pass virtually unammended because remain MPs would rather keep their jobs or tow the party line, and the only thing that will change that is public opinion.
    Recent suravtion poll shows much popular support for a vote on the final deal, so lets continue to make that argument.

  • Yeovil Yokel 4th Dec '17 - 2:07pm

    “We are the only (with the Alliance in Northern Ireland) UK-wide party committed to Remain” – Caroline Lucas will be upset to hear you say that.

  • Andy Hinton 4th Dec '17 - 2:18pm

    “For the UK to remain in EU, a second EU referendum on the terms of Brexit is a false goal. It implies Liberal Democrats will oppose the terms when they are known, whatever they are.”

    To be fair, it’s not like we’ve been hiding that. It’s on record from our leadership that whilst we would of course look at the details of the deal, we do not realistically expect a deal which would be better than what we have now (by our lights, anyway), which is entirely logically consistent with our position before the referendum. So it’s not like we have to hope for a deal which is especially *bad* (although I suspect the government are going to deliver that), the point is simply that Brexit looks a lot less attractive when it is a defined, specific proposition, rather than the various lands of hypothetical milk and potential honey proposed by the Leave campaign(s).

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Dec '17 - 2:19pm

    Expats said it,” I believe in Father Christmas”, was a great song, “I believe in this article “is less believable and not true !

  • Yeovil Yokel 4th Dec ’17 – 2:07pm:
    “We are the only (with the Alliance in Northern Ireland) UK-wide party committed to Remain” – Caroline Lucas will be upset to hear you say that.

    The Green Party in Northern Ireland is a separate party:
    http://www.greenpartyni.org/

  • On a day when the brave Brexiteer leadership have been jumping for the EU, a request for a referendum on what they have agreed makes more and more sense. I know some brave Brexiteer will turn up and say they where not actually jumping they where practising flying; but less and less people believe that guff. Brexit is a mess and people are starting to notice and when they do there first instinct is to look for a get out. A referendum is a get out, with-drawing A50 and saying we just need more time and never actually getting back to it is another approach, forming a party to contest a general election that may not happen is I’m afraid going full Tinkerbell on us; wishful thinking is great i dream every time I buy a Euro lottery ticket but I don’t base my life on it and neither should anyone on this misguided plan.

    Brexit is getting old people want to move on and the only way to do that is give it up. They might want to dress it up in a tutu and call it fairy Brexit (look fairy Brexit is on the tree, all is well with the world) but they can’t afford to push on with it without making their failing more and more apparent too the world and his wife (and even a few Brexiteers).

    Note too the brave Brexiteers

    ” Better to stop Brexit and be thought a fool than to carry on and to remove all doubt. “

  • Peter Martin 4th Dec '17 - 3:41pm

    A “no deal” Brexit is probably not something that many of the British public would place as their number one choice. It is rightly seen in negative terms. However, if negotiations for an acceptable deal have failed, what would be the choices?

    When between a rock and a hard place, more people would probably opt for no-deal Brexit than would opt for remaining in the EU. Leavers would make a powerful argument that we shouldn’t be cowered into remaining due to the unreasonableness of the EU. Many, though, would take the option of compromise or delay, to allow further negotiations, if it were offered. But would it be offered? Even if it were there would still be a crunch decision to make at some future time.

    Therefore, it doesn’t make any sense, for remainers to want a referendum if the choice is between no-deal and remaining in the eu. But if we are offered a reasonable deal, it still doesn’t make any sense, because the majority will almost certainly vote for the reasonable deal.

    Trying to get around this by cobbling together an unlikely coalition of remainers in Parliament is also unlikely to work for the reasons already given by other commentators.

  • Peter Watson 4th Dec '17 - 3:58pm

    @Andy Hinton “To be fair, it’s not like we’ve been hiding that. It’s on record from our leadership …”
    I remember it being a problem (one of several) when Tim Farron was interviewed by Andrew Neill before the General Election and it looked like a question (one of several) to which, when pressed, Tim could not give a straight answer.

  • Mick Taylor 4th Dec '17 - 4:51pm

    Sorry Ian, but this scenario is cobblers. There is probably zero chance of serious numbers of MPs breaking ranks against their parties. We also know that pre-election coalitions just don’t work [just look at all the problems there were splitting up UK constituencies between Liberals and the SDP] and all they succeed to do is deny people choices at the election.
    I don’t want a referendum anyway, because we are a parliamentary democracy in which decisions are (or should be) made by parliament, not referenda. Anyway it is stupid to call for a referendum that you think you might lose. This issue is far too serious for that. The only way forward is for people who don’t want Brexit to stand up to be counted and to ensure that MPs are flooded with requests from their constituents to stop Brexit. Then and only then will remain MPs in all parties feel they have the mandate to vote it down.
    I fear very much that this won’t happen, but pushing the case for a further referendum on the facts simply isn’t the answer – Ian is right on that – , but his proposed ‘remain’ party is a dead duck.

  • Katharine Pindar 4th Dec '17 - 4:59pm

    First catch your fox, Ian. This government will fight tooth and nail to avoid a general election in the coming year. Meantime, no sense in abandoning our flagship policy. which would actually give a way out for this failing, flailing Tory administration if driven to the wall. As they may be, unable to satisfy both the DUP and Brussels. But as to the possibility of uniting parties and voters for Remain, I agree with expats, Richard Easter et al., it can’t happen.

  • Yeovil Yokel 4th Dec '17 - 5:22pm

    Jeff – the Greens cover 3 out of the 4 nations of the UK, as do the Lib Dem’s.

  • I must admit I have quite enjoyed the spectacle of Brexiteers trying to justify Tinkerbells latest sell out. It appears the DUP have said no, so poor Tinks has had to stop jumping, at least for now. The sad fact is we are faced with two options, do what the EU want or try to make it alone. It is a hard world out there no Unicorns, or magic trade deals to save us. Some Brexiteers are saying “very well alone” and alone we will be looking at a bleak future at the beck and call of all the major trade blocks. So sad but then “pride cometh before the fall” and the Brexiteers had pride in abundance. They where special you know and the world owed them a living, the sharks circling them seem to disagree and feel they are owed a special lunch.

  • Peter,

    We woz promised unicorns, cake, more cake, trade deals with Narnia, they needed us more than we needed them. We had all the best cards, we wouldn’t buy their cars or wine, are you saying the Brexiteers fibbed and if they fibbed why should we trust them to make a success of hard Brexit. Given they have a track record of failure I think it’s only fair to ask the country if they want to go down the track they are leading us on, you might be surprised at the number who don’t.

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

  • Peter Martin 4th Dec ’17 – 3:41pm:
    A “no deal” Brexit is probably not something that many of the British public would place as their number one choice.

    35%…

    ‘Do you think it would be best for the UK economy for Britain to pay £50bn to secure a trade deal with the EU, or for Britain to pay nothing and leave with no trade deal?’ [1st. December 2017]:
    https://tinyurl.com/ybupa82h

  • Peter Martin 4th Dec '17 - 7:37pm

    @ Frankie,

    ” We had all the best cards, we wouldn’t buy their cars or wine…..”

    I’d put it that we have more than enough good cards in our hand. It’s not that we wouldn’t be able to buy their stuff, it’s just that we couldn’t do that if they screwed us for all they were worth. The Germans aren’t totally stupid. They know that if they want to run a trade surplus then someone else has to run a deficit. That has to include the UK. In other words they have to ensure that we can continue to afford to buy their exports.

    It’s still early days. We are in the early stages of the poker game, to continue your analogy. It’s just a matter of holding our nerve. The game won’t end with the end of Brexit talks. It may be only then that the real negotiations can start.

  • Darren Martin 4th Dec ’17 – 1:29pm:
    Recent survation poll shows much popular support for a vote on the final deal, so lets continue to make that argument.

    That’s for a “vote on the exit deal when the details are known” not to rerun the 2016 referendum on whether to leave at all. Support for remaining in the EU has fallen to a new low of 44%…

    ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union, or leave the European Union? (Asked after the referendum)’ [1st. December 2017]:
    https://tinyurl.com/y9y52urt

  • Peter Martin 4th Dec '17 - 7:46pm

    @ Jeff,

    That’s interesting. I hadn’t seen that 35% figure. I’m surprised it’s so high. But it actually makes my point more strongly. If the option of paying euro 50 bn for a trade deal is removed, it would be an easy win for Leave on a “no deal” ticket.

  • Bit of dreamland here, guess we have all had the dream at some time but know it is never going to happen.
    The polls, surely they have moved, Survation yesterday 52% Remain 48% Leave, should there be a 2nd referendum over any withdrawl 50% Yes 32% No, numbers now believing the decision of 2016 was wrong 6% ahead of those of think it was right, (monthly YouGOv Poll), during the Spring right then clear in the lead.

  • Andrew McCaig 4th Dec '17 - 8:14pm

    I don’t personally think that either another referendum or a general election before 2019 is at all likely.

    However I think that Remain would win quite easily against either a hard Brexit or a trade deal perceived to be expensive. I don’t think any particular version of Brexit commands a majority, except perhaps the impossible “cake and eat it” version still being peddled by both Tories and Labour…

    Meanwhile we have been doing residents’ surveys asking Brexit questions. There has been about a 5% swing from Leave to Remain in both pro-Remain and pro-Leave areas. If we have to Leave, then staying in the Single Market (including Freedom of Movement) is much more popular than Hard Brexit with no trade deal. Finally, there is >60% support for a referendum on the terms, including many Leavers. (We did not mention the option to Remain in the referendum question however..)

  • Peter Martin 4th Dec '17 - 8:31pm

    @ Theakes,

    “The polls, surely they have moved, Survation yesterday 52% Remain 48% Leave”

    Wasn’t this pretty much what the polls were saying before the actual vote last year?
    If so, they haven’t moved at all. The numbers were right. Just the wrong way around!

  • Peter,

    The remain camp where trashed as Project Fear, be a bit hard to try that again after their claims turned out to be Project Fact. As to holding good cards, we are playing poker, so a hand comprising Mr Bun the Baker, Master Bun, Mrs Field, Miss Bud and Miss Pill the Doctors daughter doesn’t really cut it.

  • Little Jackie Paper 4th Dec '17 - 11:53pm

    Isn’t this the real issue that the remain camp has been dancing around for about 18 months now?

    ‘The lamentable Remain campaign in the 2016 referendum and the leaderless and rudderless opposition since give no grounds for such confidence.’

    At the moment what REMAIN seems to have in mind is, essentially, the Cameron/Osborne (and Farron) line, just maybe with a bit less sanctimony. Obviously that line went down pretty well on LDV, but not too many other places. REMAIN doesn’t seem to actually have an argument beyond Cameron’s, ‘buck up everyone – the EU’s not THAT bad.’

    Indeed look at this thread – no attempt to actually look at what drove a LEAVE vote, no attempt to think about what could be done about the problems from WITHIN the EU. Just a lot of wishful thinking and self-indulgence. Cameron bet the farm on economic arguments and now, 18 months on remainers seem to be betting the farm on….

    OK, there may not be much consensus around what sort of LEAVE we want, but I’m far from convinced there’s much consensus about the REMAIN we want either.

    Look, with the greatest of respect, someone needs to point out that REMAIN lost because it had weak arguments. It wasn’t the racist/thick voters, it wasn’t lies on a bus, it wasn’t the Russians and it wasn’t any of the other bogeymen. REMAIN failed all on its own and no one seems to want to think about why that was in anything like the depth needed here.

  • @Little Jackie Paper – love your comment: “Look, with the greatest of respect, someone needs to point out that REMAIN lost because it had weak arguments.”

    – also Remain threw “the kitchen sink” at winning (President Obama / “government advice leaflet” / “extra registration time favouring young voters”, etc., etc.). 🙂

  • Many commenters have picked up a particular idea from the OP. However, I would like to pick up another issue raised. I suppose we could imagine there to be a majority in the House of Commons against Brexit. However we have to also imagine that the Labour leadership are not part of it and therefore there is a sizable group of Conservative MPs in it. Once we have imagined this Ian states this anti-Brexit coalition would have a shared manifesto which “provides Liberal solutions to the issues that led ordinary people to vote Brexit and restore the economy justly”. And there is another big problem.

    It is unlikely that this anti-Brexit coalition would reject the economic financial orthodoxy of ensuring unemployment does not get too low because that would increase inflation, and that the budget deficit should be reduced. It couldn’t reject the economic financial orthodoxy and believe that higher inflation and government debt is a price worth paying for everyone who wants a job to have one and an economy where everyone gets better off every year; that full employment is the only way we can reduce economic inequalities and solve the major issues that led ordinary people to vote Brexit.

  • What truly shocks me Jackie is the pigs ear the leave camp are making of well leaving. They keep coming up against reality and just stand there puzzled when it doesn’t work out as they thought it would. They were told it would be difficult but no that was a lie, it would all be fine, they were special. I can understand why you want to blame the remain camp for the decision you made, but let’s be blunt you choose to vote leave and all the consequences lie at your door. If the disaster we are facing surprises you, why should you be surprised when you look at the fantasiests and chancers who led the leave camp. If blaming the remain camp helps fine but I’m afraid it doesn’t change the fact you won, now get on with sortting the mess that created. Have a word with your leadership, put a plan in place, what’s that you say “Tinks will provide, I believe we can fly” O Jackie I rather think we can’t.

  • Martin Walker 5th Dec '17 - 8:23am

    I’m afraid that is a totally unrealistic political strategy. We are not going to succeed in persuading Tory MPs to bring their own Government down, or Labour MPs to volunteer for deselection. We should indeed ditch the referendum policy in my view, because it is a watered down attempt to rerun a vote we lost. We should simply argue that Brexit is an economic disaster based on lies, and we would vote to prevent / overturn it. Our mandate for doing so would come at the ballot box.

  • Michael Romberg 5th Dec '17 - 11:15am

    Only a further referendum has the political authority to overturn the 2016 referendum.

    In a general election people vote across the whole range of policies, they vote to elect a government, a prime minister; they have to make trade-offs between party policies they like and those they dislike. It is quite coherent to want say a Labour Government and to Remain in the EU (or a Liberal Democrat government and to Leave the EU).

    For those who think that our opposition to Brexit and calls for a referendum on the terms are bad policies, just wait. After 2019 that question will have been resolved one way or another.

    In the meantime I am quite sure that we are right on Remain and on the referendum as the honourable and transparent means to obtain it.

    Further, our domestic policy proposals are the best for reconciling unhappy Leave voters with Remain Britain. That ranges from our offering on improved early years and adult education to proportional representation – the real way to ‘take back control’. We should market our policies better to make clear their effects.

  • Andy Hinton 5th Dec '17 - 11:32am

    Peter Watson: Without going back and looking at that interview again, my recollection is that the problem comes if you worry too much about upsetting Leave voters while you’re about it. If the answer is “we expect that we would campaign to Remain, because we didn’t think before and we don’t think now that we will get a deal which is better for Britain than the one we currently have as a member of the EU”, I don’t see the problem.

  • @ Andy Hinton
    “that interview” – Tim Farron interviewed by Andrew Neill during the general election – was a car crash of an interview.

    @ Michael Romberg
    “our domestic policy proposals are the best for reconciling unhappy Leave voters with Remain Britain. That ranges from our offering on improved early years and adult education to proportional representation – the real way to ‘take back control’.”

    I strongly disagree. Improved education and training cannot ensure everyone who wants a job has one, they improve the chances of being successful when competing for a job (which is useful but is not a solution). They help some but not everyone especially when UK governments believe that having more than 1 million people unemployed is a price worth paying to control inflation. I wish every Liberal Democrat believed having more than 1 million people unemployed was unacceptable and agreed we need to increase government spending and inflation to ensure that if we are in government again when the general election comes less than 1 million people would be unemployed.

    I have never been convinced that proportional representation increases control for individual voters. If every citizen voted on every decision once all the facts had been presented then each individual person would have control. Without going back to such a system we need to reduce the ratio of electors to representatives so each vote counts for more.

    And of course we would need to reform the EU to make it less unpopular to UK voters and for it to work for countries such as Greece and Spain.

  • And this is why I have not voted liberal since you raised tuition fees.

    The will of the people is an anathema to the liberals. You ‘ know’ best. Your worse than the Blairites.

    You want to manipulate our democratic processes for your own political aims rather than to determine the will of the people.

    There is not a principle among you.

  • “Instead, we need to change the government. We need to bring together Remainers in all parties, overcoming Labour and Tory MPs’ misplaced loyalty to their Brexit leaderships…”

    If what is needed is more cross-party consensus and working then it is clear the party system isn’t working and thus not serving the needs of the UK electorate. Perhaps this is another area of reform the Libdems should be making proposals on.

  • Peter Watson 5th Dec '17 - 2:16pm

    @Andy Hinton “the problem comes if you worry too much about upsetting Leave voters while you’re about it. If the answer is “we expect that we would campaign to Remain …”
    I think that Tim Farron’s awkwardness when pressed in that interview was less about upsetting Leave voters (no Lib Dem seems concerned about that!) and more about the tension between two contradictory messages that make up the official Lib Dem position: the implicit one that “of course we would campaign to Remain” with the explicit one that “we respect the outcome of the 2016 referendum”.
    The wording you give is more nuanced, but I still don’t think it is an honest representation of the de facto position of the party and its supporters which appears to be “we think the outcome of the referendum is wrong and should be reversed”.

  • Peter Watson 5th Dec '17 - 2:32pm

    @Roland “If what is needed is more cross-party consensus and working then it is clear the party system isn’t working”
    There are obviously far more pro-Remain MPs in the Labour and Conservative parties (and the SNP) than in the Lib Dems, so a non-party political approach to preventing Brexit has always looked like a no-brainer.
    However, I think that the Lib Dem strategy has been to push itself unilaterally as the only anti-Brexit party instead of seeking a cross-party approach, in an apparent attempt to gain electoral advantage, and this has been counter-productive both in terms of preventing Brexit and winning votes.

  • Katharine Pindar 6th Dec '17 - 12:40am

    On the contrary, Peter Watson, the only honest approach among the three big British parties has been the Liberal Democrats’ one: to say, Yes, we should stay in the EU and therefore will try to persuade the people that Brexit is wrong. Meantime, Tories and Labour disguised their internal doubts and disputes and jointly precipitated the country towards this grave self-harm.

    A cross-party approach, other than with the few who resist their parties’ self-serving unprincipled tactics, has not been available. We have done the right thing, and are finally winning the argument. Whether that is to our electoral advantage in the end, time will tell, but our aim was and is to serve our country.

  • Peter Watson 6th Dec '17 - 1:39am

    @Katharine Pindar”Yes, we should stay in the EU and therefore will try to persuade the people that Brexit is wrong.”
    The original party line about “respecting the result of the referendum” and it being a “vote for departure but not a destination” sounded dishonest or at best disingenuous. The more black-and-white “exit from Brexit” position that you describe and to which the party has more openly moved is much more honest and reflects what everybody suspected Lib Dems meant from the outset (hence Neill pressing the point in the interview with Farron).
    Unfortunately it is not helped by inconsistencies between this position and the dismissal of a second EU referendum when it looked like the Brexiters would lose and the dismissal of a second referendum on Scottish independence.

  • Katharine Pindar 6th Dec '17 - 11:54pm

    Peter, referendums are a load of trouble, certainly in a case like this one where a complex subject on which many people would hesitate to be decisive offered only a yes-no choice with a simple majority decision. It wasn’t unreasonable to point out afterwards what a difficult decision it had been, or to go on arguing about it, especially as reasonable people could see that there were and are many different ways of considering the issues, and there never was a split of the British people into two sharply-defined camps despite the shrill clamour of the right-wing press.

    Now people have seen how utterly difficult and dangerous to national well-being this proposed Brexit is, the tide of public opinion seems to be turning, not least because people observe the folly of the Government’s blind charge onward. We’re fortunate now that the Irish border issue has become, as it always seemed likely to be, the major stumbling block, besides which the trade talks if they get started can only reveal the hopelessness of the emperor’s new clothes. Maybe there will be another election. Maybe the Government will concede at last another referendum, which is the more democratic solution. Or maybe we will get at last to stay in the single market and the customs union, with some concessions on immigration and joint jurisdiction with the NCJ. Something has to give, and before we’re much older, I am convinced of that.

  • Peter Watson 7th Dec '17 - 12:50am

    @Katharine Pindar “It wasn’t unreasonable to point out afterwards what a difficult decision it had been, or to go on arguing about it”
    I agree.
    But it’s a shame that nobody told Tim Farron this when Brexiters were on the ropes and he said, “This issue is too important to give people like Nigel Farage as many goes as they want until they get the result they want. … So maybe, just maybe he should live up to his own words for once, and listen to the choice of the British people.”
    And similarly for the Scots who voted to remain part of the UK within the EU, it seems reasonable for them to revisit this decision if they want given what happened afterwards (though back in 2016 I thought it would be funny if a close result meant Scottish votes kept anti-independence English Brexiters in the EU).

    Ultimately, I don’t disagree with the Lib Dem position of being pro-Remain and anti-Brexit, I just despair of the disastrous strategy the party has followed in recent years that has bolstered the very thing it opposes: contributing to the series of events and the state of affairs that brought us a referendum in 2016, failing to halt a decline to the point that it is listened to and trusted less than ever, flip-flopping on whether or not an in-out referendum is a good idea, inconsistency about second referendums, backing and continuing with Cameron/Osborne’s negative campaign, alienating itself from larger parties rather than seeking pro-Remain partners, etc.

  • Katharine Pindar 7th Dec '17 - 5:38pm

    The begging bowl of wisdom hasn’t been kept very full by the gods, lately, Peter. We do our best in our well-meaning party.

  • Arnold Kiel 7th Dec '17 - 7:23pm

    The key is Corbyn. He will eventually back remain for several reasons:

    1. He has just a handful of “leave at any cost” backbenchers, the Tories several dozen.
    2. His are totally braindead (Hoey, Fields, Skinner…), the Tories’ only half.
    3.Therefore, he has no-one to send to Brussels to negotiate (Barnier would send these back after 5 minutes).
    4. Empowering these, even if that were possible, would cost him his A-team (Starmer, Thornberry, Benn…).
    4. He is open to cost/benefit considerations.
    5. Juncker would tell him immediately that he can nationalize whatever he wants.
    6. The economic consequences of Brexit would conflict with his true objectives (unlike the professed ones of May).

    Approx 300 Tory MPs are silent remainers. Less than 10% of them can make this happen. They need to conclude that, either, they can survive this, or, it must be done in any event (about 5 are there aready).

  • Peter Hirst 8th Dec '17 - 3:42pm

    Referenda should be above politics and about what the people want. Also, to conclude the Brexit process another referendum is necessary whatever the result. If it is between the deal or leaving without a deal then I would oppose it as that is not what the initial referendum was about. Perhaps it should be 3 way with no deal, deal or remain in the eu. It must be more carefully supervised, the franchise extended especially to the 16 – 18s and perhaps a national holiday to increase the turnout.

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  • User AvatarSean Hyland 18th Dec - 1:17am
    Peter Watson the article makes the same point about cherry picking polls whatever side of the debate you are on and the need to look...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Dec - 1:04am
    @Sheila Gee - "Farage has served this country very well, and deserves his pension and retirement." Firstly, Farage and UKIP have not served this country...
  • User AvatarMartin 18th Dec - 12:41am
    Matt: What was leaves vision for the UK outside the EU? Do tell, because if it ever existed, it seems to have been completely forgotten....
  • User AvatarMichael BG 18th Dec - 12:33am
    @ Joe Bourke I don’t understand why you object to exempting those owner occupiers who have an income lower than the poverty level. I hate...
  • User AvatarMalcolm Todd 18th Dec - 12:17am
    Should be "notice to *quit*", obviously.