Lib Dem MPs to use Opposition Day Debate to argue for People’s Vote

Well, it’s been quite a day, hasn’t it?

It takes you right back to 1990 and all the drama of Sir Geoffrey Howe’s resignation- over Europe.  Well, all the drama and none of the class. It remains to be seen whether the same fate befalls this Prime Minister as happened to Margaret Thatcher back then. .

We now have a chaotic situation where the 50 or so Tory Brexiteers won’t back a deal that looks anything like Theresa May’s plan  because it doesn’t go far enough for them and a fairly huge swathe of Labour, the SNP and us won’t back it because it is just ridiculously unworkable and will make all of us poorer. The pro European wing of the Tory party will do what it always does and cave when it comes to actually voting.

You would think that we’d have some idea of where we were going with little more than 8 months to go before we are scheduled to leave the EU. However, the headlines ricochet between “yikes, it’s going to be no deal” to “soft brexit wins the day” all the way back to “yikes.”

Something has to happen to make sense of all this chaos.

Tomorrow, Lib Dem MPs will hold an opposition day debate. In news that will surprise nobody, they are going to call for a People’s Vote on the final deal with the option of remaining in the EU.

As Vince put it:

The now former Foreign Secretary himself has apparently said the Chequers deal is the worst of all possible worlds. As politicians, we have to realise we are at an extremely difficult juncture for the country and Brexit cannot just be about tackling the Conservative Party’s civil war.

This is why the pragmatists among us must work together for the good of the country to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal with the chance to exit from Brexit

Just as an aside, here’s my Tweet of the Day.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Little Jackie Paper 9th Jul '18 - 10:34pm

    I’d be more convinced here if I felt that this was anything other than straight to a neverendum. This is, however dressed up, a do-over of 2016.

    I’d be quite happy for a referendum on the Norway deal i.e. something substantively different to 2016. With the bonus prize that Norway is a good option. The second referendums in Ireland and Denmark were (just about) legit as they asked about a different deal.

    If this had been 52:48 to REMAIN and UKIP were insisting on a do-over I suspect Liberals would give short shrift.

    If someone does have an argument about how the so-called People’s Vote is anything other than a do-over likely leading to a neverendum then I’d be interested to hear it.

    Anyway, I’ll go to bed whilst everyone spits abuse at me now.

  • Angry ExPat 9th Jul '18 - 11:10pm

    Well as an expat living in the EU i am still angry about being denied a vote in the first referendum, denied a vote in the GE and being even for a peoples vote denied a vote yet again.
    How can any politician claim without being ashamed that Brexit is the “will of the people” yet denied 3 million British CITIZENS a vote, deny a voice to a MP (no vote no MP) . The government totally disregards us, the EU is not intrested in us (loss of FOM in europe, no rights being protected) and many
    Uk citizens are very worried about a no deal scenario.
    even the Labour Party seems to have a policy of not giving our vote back yet claim to be for the people!
    Democracy is about one man one vote yet Brexit has denied a voice to the citizens in the UK and Europe who are most effected by this total chaos in Westmister and the lies of Johnson,Farage and Gove.
    Will the Lib Dems stand up for democracy and try to give us here in the EU a voice.
    I can imagine many citizens being forcibly repatriated if there is a NO deal scenario and surly this cant be in anyones interest.

  • Phil Wainewright 9th Jul '18 - 11:22pm

    Little Jackie Paper writes: “This is, however dressed up, a do-over of 2016.” Not at all.

    The trouble with the 2016 referendum is that the leave side promised every variety of Brexit, from Norway, Switzerland, Canada to no deal and many breeds of rainbow-infused unicorn in between.

    Remain tried to scare the electorate by claiming the only leave option on the table was total exclusion, which was labelled as Project Fear by leavers.

    So both sides recklessly and irresponsibly muddied the waters.

    After all that if you now believe the deal on offer today is the same as what anyone was talking about in 2016 then I don’t think you’ve been paying attention. That’s why we now need a people’s vote on the actual options on the table.

  • Philip Knowles 10th Jul '18 - 7:55am

    I’m not keen on People’s Vote because it’s the people plus David Cameron and BoJo who got us in this mess. The EU needs to reform and, crucially, the EU now realise it. Merkle has her own problems and various other countries have their own version of Farage.
    Someone needs to go to the EU and put their cards on the table. Look we don’t want to leave but you’ve got to give us something to sell to the British people. A better deal on fisheries would see off one group. A common view on migration – the return if you don’t get a job in 6 months rule that Belgium uses and no automatic right to benefits for a year (with benefits up to that point being paid by the home country of the foreign national) might see off another sufficiently large group.
    I know one thing changing nothing will change nothing. I think GBS once said, ‘A second marriage is a triumph of hope over experience’. It applies to referenda too.

  • William Fowler 10th Jul '18 - 7:59am

    May’s solution is so complex that it is again open to interpretation, how many people are going to wade through 100 pages of civil-service-speak to know what they are voting for?

    Some clarity from the EU on the UK’s position if it wants to rescind article 50 would be helpful and how non-Euro countries fit into the overall future scheme of things as we obviously won’t be able to fully integrate which Euro countries will need to do to make sense of a common currency.

  • William Fowler 10th Jul '18 - 8:58am

    Long term power does strange things to people so not sure Merkel will give much ground and, worse yet, she will probably end up with a top job at the EU when her voters finally see her off… democracy in action.

  • David Becket 10th Jul '18 - 9:54am

    We may have a good debate, and may be able to offer a way forward. However nobody outside the Westminster Bubble will know anything about it. The media will not tell the public anything about us, nor will we.

    One of our most important ways of communicating is the web site. Just look at the lead stories.

    The main headlined story is Lewisham, as for the rest:
    Two dated June 13th
    Five dated June 15th
    One Dated June 20th (Housing, very important needs development)
    One Dated June 21st

    On July 9th we woke up and reported on David Davis
    Today we have not even spotted Boris gone

    Apart from “Exit from Brexit” nowhere is a comprehensive statement on how the Lib Dems will sort out the mess and give hope.

    If you where at Newbury you might remember the Newbury Declaration, time for a similar approach.

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '18 - 9:58am

    How did nationality affect voting rights in the Scottish referendum? Do all Scottish people, living all over the world, qualify for a vote?

    Should they qualify or is it reasonable to say that they should actually live in Scotland to have a say about Scottish independence?

    And is it different if it’s about Britain as whole?

  • Andrew McCaig 10th Jul '18 - 10:10am

    If I buy an insurance policy I have a period of a couple of weeks where I can cancel it without penalty. I see another referendum as an opportunity for the electorate to confirm their decision to Leave with a better view of the destination. Whichever way it goes I foresee no need for any further referenda on Europe for at least ten years, and that could be written into the Bill.
    Leaving the EU will affect our children and grandchildren and is far too important a decision to be set in stone on a single day in June 2016

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '18 - 10:11am

    @ Angry ex – pat,

    How does nationality affect matters in Scotland? Are you saying that every Scottish person, no matter where in the world they live, should be allowed to vote on Scottish independence?

    Or is it reasonable to put some sort of time limit on that? The UK is pretty generous in allowing voters to continue voting for 15 years after leaving the UK. Many UK taxpayers would think that was too generous.

  • nigel hunter 10th Jul '18 - 10:32am

    Whilst we have an Opposition motion day i would be pleasantly surprised if it gets any coverage as the BBC will be more interested in the RAF Centenary. It may be just me but if we as a party have something to say the Beebs (and others) attention is always somewhere else

  • Andrew McCaig 10th Jul '18 - 10:33am

    Peter Martin,
    I am pleased that you evidently want to extend voting to taxpayers in the UK.
    We have a ridiculous situation where EU citizens who had paid taxes in Britain for 30 years could not vote, but Australians over here for a short-term visit could.
    I know quite a few taxpayers living in Britain who were very angry that they were not allowed to vote while a bunch of Australians etc decided their future…

  • David Becket 10th Jul '18 - 10:54am

    Agreed, but see my comment. We do not help ourselves, we come over as bloated by our own minor success, and with no message of hope

  • Peter Parsons 10th Jul '18 - 11:01am

    @LJP, I think you answered your own question – it’s down to what would be asked. If it’s the same question as 2016, it’s a do over. If the question is different, something like do you want to leave and (a) operate on WTO rules, (b) join the EEA/EFTA, (c) accept the deal negotiated by the UK government, that would not be a do over as it’s a different question.

    @Philip Knowles, the EU already has a “return in 3 months if you don’t get a job/can’t support yourself”. The fact that it isn’t implemented in the UK is nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with those in Westminster.

  • It is time the party went for full on EU membership – Euro, Schengen, TTIP, privatised EU wide army, privatised EU wide healthcare, Turkey and Israel in the EU with offers to North African countries to join once they make the cut.

    At the moment we have a 3 way choice of Corbynite Lexit, May’s deal or the ERG hard Brexit.

    Time this party stood up for the European project and economic and social liberalism 100%.

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '18 - 11:24am

    Yes it would be an extension. Everyone who lives here is a taxpayer to a greater or lesser extent. It’s just about impossible to pay no tax at all – unless you aren’t actually living here of course.

    Australians are only allowed to vote in the UK if they are resident. Which would exclude those on short term visits. I’ve posted a link below which does explain this further.

    You’re right to the extent that there is always going to be some disputes and discussion about where the line is drawn. Maybe the rules should be tightened for Australians and relaxed for others. But the overriding principle should be that UK elections, both local and national, should be for UK resident nationals.

    That’s the way it is in Australia too. You aren’t allowed to vote there just because you’re either British or a resident. You have to be an Australian citizen.

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '18 - 11:26am

    Sorry, forgot to say previous comment was for Andrew McCaig.

  • William Fowler 10th Jul '18 - 11:36am

    It is time the party went for full on EU membership – Euro, Schengen, TTIP, privatised EU wide army, privatised EU wide healthcare, Turkey and Israel in the EU with offers to North African countries to join once they make the cut.

    At the moment we have a 3 way choice of Corbynite Lexit, May’s deal or the ERG hard Brexit.

    Time this party stood up for the European project and economic and social liberalism 10 %.”

    Might be the only way to get back into the EU if we actually leave but no majority in the country for it even if a lot of people end up suffering Brexit hardship. Lots of posters argue that as we are a currency printer we can just print more money to get out of trouble but if we were Euro members we would have to go the Greek route and reset public spending at a much lower level that would have the Left running around like headless chickens. A massive devluation of an already ruined Sterling might rebalance things enough to let us join the Euro but who is going to vote for that?

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '18 - 11:41am

    @ Stimpson,

    “It is time the party went for full on EU membership……..”

    Well said!

    If we want to be a part of the inner circle of EU members we have to be wholehearted members and members to the same extent as France, Germany, Netherlands etc. Why would they ever have listened to us about how to run a common currency when we don’t use the euro ourselves?

    So come on, you not-so-brave Remainers, as Frankie might put it, have the courage of your convictions and show some real enthusiasm for a project you claim to believe in!

  • Can we have a third question?
    ‘Can Parliament decide – after all, that’s what we pay them for?’

  • David Becket 10th Jul '18 - 1:39pm

    @Stimpson @ Martin

    Politics is the art of the possible. There are many objections to full membership, but the main one is that the British Public would not wear it. Offer full integration or full out with clean cut and full out would would win hands down, and deliver the final death blow to the Lib Dems.

    The Brexiteers are not living in the real world, this party should not follow them.

  • Roger Billins 10th Jul '18 - 2:17pm

    I rather suspect that we will end up with a messy Brexit fudge which will leave us tied reasonably close to the E.U. Brave though it is the chances of a “People’s Vote” are somewhere between remote and neglible. I suspect recent events have ruled out no deal and any nearer to the single market and customs union would amount to political suicide for Ms May. The advantage of such a fudge is that it gives radical reformers such as Macron and Verhofstadt the chance to sort out the EU and make it more attractive to a campaign for a people’s vote that might work- re-join ,whilst the UK remains closely linked to the E.U.

  • @little Jackie paper. I would like to think that no one on this site would give you a hard time for asking a perfectly reasonable question. I don’t think this is a case of a neverendum. We are not just asking for rerun because we didn’t like the result. This is more like a re-trial based on new evidence. New evidence in that we have now actually tried to leave the EU and we can see what the real, serious problems are. We can see that the difficulty negotiating a new relationship with our former partners is not project fear, it’s reality. Similarly, the Irish border issue is not only very real, but virtually unresolvable if you insist on a full and clean break with the EU. So let the people, who now have a much better idea of the reality of leaving the EU, tell the government whether it is worth the pain.

  • We are not just asking for rerun because we didn’t like the result.

    Um… you clearly are. Would you be as eager for a new referendum if Remain had won? Obviously not. Ergo, you’re only calling for it because the result wasn’t the one you wanted.

  • The people will not be a problem at that time.

    Wow, you couldn’t sound more like a movie villain if you tried.

  • Dominic Jackson 10th Jul '18 - 4:58pm

    The point of a People’s Vote isn’t just the vote itself. It’s to reopen the debate about our relationship with the EU. The 2016 referendum campaign wasn’t adequate as the article notes and it is for this reason that we keep discovering new complexities with regards to Brexit such as the Galileo satellite programme.

    I think May has been seriously spooked by the warnings from business of late and it is this plus the realisation that the ERG do not have the votes to oust her that made her soften her stance. We all know the Chequers deal will not be acceptable to the EU but equally I am now certain that we will not crash out with no deal – either intentionally or through letting the clock run out. So the end result will be Brexit In Name Only which nobody voted for in 2016.

    The “do-over” comments imply that refusing to accept the 2016 result is undemocratic but this isn’t how democracy works. It’s a process not a one-off event. It’s about persuading people to share your opinion in sufficient numbers to then push for a vote on the issue and it is perfectly legitimate to keep pushing even if you lose a vote. The suffragettes lost about 8 Parliamentary votes before they got what they wanted and now hardly anyone claims this was undemocratic or that women should not have the right to vote.

  • David Becket 10th Jul '18 - 5:23pm

    The vote was more like sending a message of contempt to us rather than a serious debate on policy.
    It shows how far we have to go, but it shows essential it is that we get there.

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '18 - 5:57pm

    @ Arnold @ Dav

    “Wow, you couldn’t sound more like a movie villain if you tried.”

    Is Arnold any relation to the late Richard Kiel?

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '18 - 6:11pm

    @ Martin Land

    “Can Parliament decide – after all, that’s what we pay them for?”

    Yes, they, ie MPs, can – providing that whatever they want to do can be undone by a different lot of MPs who follow them.

    If it can’t – it needs to be referred to the people.

  • Peter Watson 10th Jul '18 - 6:20pm

    @David Becket “The vote was more like sending a message of contempt to us rather than a serious debate on policy.”
    Given the success that Lib Dems had with an opposition day motion on rights for Gurkhas in 2009, it is a shame that the party seemed pretty dismissive about them while in Government (I recall the party’s MPs ignoring or voting against opposition day motions which were actually consistent with party policy on badger culls, requirements for teachers to be qualified, a mansion tax, etc.). It makes it hard to take the party seriously with this one.

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Jul '18 - 6:46pm

    Chris Cory – Thank you for your reply. With respect I have to disagree. Any vote now with REMAIN as an option is a do over and no amount of contortion changes that. If you want some idea of how little the public likes that sort of parlour-word-game take a look at the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty referendum debacle.

    ‘This is more like a re-trial based on new evidence.’

    But I still fail to see how you get around the bigger issue there. If that 2016 vote had been 52:48 for REMAIN and UKIP were asking for a second ‘confirmation referendum on new evidence’ at the next EU mess what would you think? This is neverendum. You might not have a problem with that per se, and that’s fair enough. But at the very least don’t duck it.

    ‘New evidence in that we have now actually tried to leave the EU and we can see what the real, serious problems are.’

    But doesn’t that strike you as a problem in itself? A50 is a Treaty right, no more no less than all the others. Just it appears that the EU thinks it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Doesn’t it strike you as a significant constitutional deficit here? Again you might not care too much, but others are quite entitled to take a different view.

    For what it’s worth I take the view that Norway would be a good deal – probably what we should have done years ago to be honest. The other way would be to have a referendum on the question – ‘Do you wish to uphold or rescind the 2016 referendum.’ That’s all. Nothing about REMAIN or LEAVE. Anything with REMAIN on the ballot is a neverendum and it is wholly disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Jul '18 - 6:48pm

    Andrew McCaig – ‘Whichever way it goes I foresee no need for any further referenda on Europe for at least ten years’

    YOU might very well not foresee a need…..

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Jul '18 - 6:51pm

    Peter Parsons –

    ‘If the question is different, something like do you want to leave and (a) operate on WTO rules, (b) join the EEA/EFTA, (c) accept the deal negotiated by the UK government, that would not be a do over as it’s a different question.’

    Agree totally. No REMAIN option = not a do over.

    ‘the EU already has a “return in 3 months if you don’t get a job/can’t support yourself”. The fact that it isn’t implemented in the UK is nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with those in Westminster.’

    The EU absolutely has no such rule.

  • Bless the brave Brexiteers are trying to defend the Brexit shambles. It is a total mess lads and the people are entitled to be asked do you want to go on with this disaster or do you want to stop. I think you are afraid the answer would be stop and I think you are right to be afraid.

  • The things is, fundamentally, if it’s this hard to disentangle ourselves from the EU now, well, it’s not going to get any easier, is it, as the EU moves further along the path to political union? It’s harder now than it would have been before the Lisbon treaty, for example. And in between treaties every year brings new EU regulations that we would have to unpick.

    So given that we’re going to have to leave at some point — because the EU is clearly aiming to become a United States of Europe, one country with one currency, one federal government, one army, one foreign policy, etc etc, and that’s totally unacceptable to the UK — isn’t it better to do it sooner rather than later?

  • Philip Knowles 11th Jul '18 - 5:46am

    You missed my point or I didn’t make it ckear enough. The EU needs to change. My point is that it wouldn’t be an exception it would enshrined in EU law. The other EU states would like clarity on these points too.
    Current EU law says that each country must treat EU citizens the same as their own.That means that countries with better services are penalsed more than ones with lower. For example if a French national had to wait 3 months before en. Throw them a bonetitlement to unemployment benefit (I’m making this up) a UK national would be treated the same and that would comply with EU law.
    If the EU simply said that your rights in the new country are the same as yur home country until you’ve been in employment for, say, 6 months. The likes of the Daily Mail are constantly going on about EU nationals sponging off the UK – it’s not true bt difficult to disprove. Throw them a bone in that they think they have a victory otherwise they will sabotage a Peoples Vote. Changing nothing changes nothing

  • William Fowler 11th Jul '18 - 6:58am

    It is not just that the EU needs to change, it needs to change before a second vote (or the UK govn needs to change things within EU rules)… otherwise people will not believe that those changes are coming.

  • Neil Sandison 11th Jul '18 - 9:59am

    Having watched the debate on the pareliament channel i thought it was an exercise in one hand clapping with us taking our position and both Labour and Conservatives saying why they opposed it .True it provided an oppertunity for a little coverage but that has been overshadowed by the conservative resignations and continued infighting one interesting thing that was reported widely was the national infrastructure commissions report .This should be a gift from the gods for Liberal Democrats but perhaps our leadership will find out about it next week and we will still be behind the curve on topical political stories that matter to the members.

  • Peter Watson 11th Jul '18 - 4:55pm

    Given the choices offered (, Trump’s visit might have received publicity and unfortunately the sustainability of the NHS would have been unlikely to generate much interest unless the topic of the motion could be made to sound a bit pithier. But more warm air about another Brexit referendum was always going to be the Lib Dem’s choice and was always going to be overlooked (May’s announcements would have exhausted the oxygen of Brexit publicity even without the resignations hogging headlines).
    For my part, I’d welcome a bit more Lib Dem attention on schools, especially given the complete apathy in response to headlines a week or two ago (, and I apologise for cheekily trying to reintroduce the topic here. 🙂

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKaterina Porter 17th Feb - 9:12pm
    While we have the constant refrain of "the people have spoken" i- 2016 - nobody mentions that a General Election was called in 2017 and...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 17th Feb - 8:44pm
    David Raw, on the contrary, I would expect both Stiglitz and Piketty are widely read- Piketty particularly having been top of Amazon.Com and New York...
  • User Avatarfrankie 17th Feb - 8:43pm
    On question time Lord Wee Mogg mentioned Ineos had sent a complaining letter to the EU. He failed to mention they where spending 3 billion...
  • User AvatarLibDemer 17th Feb - 8:34pm
    British international aid should be administered with conditions attached. Such as improving the human rights of LGBT communities worldwide. If foreign governments are unwilling to...
  • User AvatarPeter Chambers 17th Feb - 8:16pm
    Structure is boring but important. I seem to recall this was something that sensible people tried to tell the first Blair government, seemingly taking several...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 17th Feb - 7:54pm
    @ Joe Bourke "The economist Joe Stiglitz has written extensively on the subject of economic rents. Some of his conclusions are noted here". Joe, I...