LibLink: Chuka Umunna: Don’t let these reckless Brexit gamblers claim they speak for the British people

Chuka Umunna writes in the Independent about how the Brexiteers are trying to manipulate us:

Ministers know that a no-deal Brexit will involve an immediate shock to the economy which is one reason why they will seek to hold an election almost immediately after exit day – if it hasn’t happened beforehand – so it takes place before the pain is really felt.

Michael Gove even floated the idea of announcing a bank holiday on 1 November in an attempt to delay the inevitable chaos until after people have been to the ballot box. There is a description for this type of behaviour – vote rigging.

He argues that the Government doesn’t have a mandate for no deal

Parties representing a majority of electors in 2017 had set their faces against a no-deal Brexit. So any mandate claimed for a hard Brexit died at this point – something the Vote Leave cabal in government have never accepted.

They try to deny the parliamentary arithmetic but the fact they could not get their extreme form of Brexit through the House of Commons this year has provided something of a wake-up call. Now they are seeking to force their no-deal Brexit through even if Johnson’s administration – to all intents and purposes, a Vote Leave government – has lost the confidence of the House of Commons before 31 October.

This is definitely unconstitutional and, quite possibly, unlawful. It is certainly hypocritical given they argued for Brexit, in part, on the basis that it represented a reassertion of parliamentary sovereignty.

Let’s put aside the issue of leaving without a deal for one moment, and turn to the core question of whether we leave the EU at all. You see, if the Remain/Leave question were put to the public again in a referendum, the opinion polls have pretty consistently had Remain in the lead since 2017. Today it would be 52.2 per cent Remain to 47.8 per cent Leave.

He offers an insight into Labour thinking on a no deal Brexit.Is this why they are not embracing initiatives to stop it?

All Tory rebel MPs and, indeed, a substantial minority of Labour MPs would not give the Labour leader that confidence but would be open to other suggestions. The bottom line, though, is that for it to work Labour would have to support it and Labour has ruled out an emergency government. Shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, was the latest to reject it last night.

This is not surprising, not least because lifelong Brexiteer, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, will be intensely relaxed if Brexit happens – he has spent years campaigning for it. Jo Swinson, on the other hand, has made it clear that we Liberal Democrats are very open to it because, as the UK’s biggest and strongest Remain party, we are determined to do all we can not only to stop a no-deal Brexit but to stop Brexit altogether.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • Brexit voted by the many. Denied by the few self interested undemocratic members of parliament where democracy is supposed to rule & who are happy to be elected by a majority of 1 & not even 50% of the vote.They should hang their heads in shame.

  • John Peters 13th Aug '19 - 9:13am

    It would be heartening to believe an MP was capable of shame.

    I think at the very least we should allow recall petitions when MPs cross the floor or have the whip removed.

  • Bless out pop a couple of Brexiteers, decrying the Parliamentary Democracy they where so in favour of a few short years ago. The reek of hypocrisy is nauseating; but remember folks it will always be someone else’s fault.

  • So the love of Parliamentary Democracy that forced you to vote to leave the EU, no longer suits, bless just bless. So why exactly did you vote leave, you havnt a clue have you, the pursuit of sunlit uplands blinds you to reality. We must have our “precious” without a clue what the precious is. Sad just so sad.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '19 - 10:13am

    Terry: Please read the article “52.2 per cent Remain to 47.8 per cent Leave”
    It is not compulsory to declare which party you support, but you are free to do so.
    John Peters: Would you have recalled Winston S Churchill for changing political parties?
    He had to fight a by-election whenever he was appointed a minister.
    Frankie: The 2016 referendum was like ships that pass in the night, but your comment here is difficult to understand.
    Ian Sanderson (RM3): There is another reason, revisiting the Belfast (Good Friday) arrangements is too difficult. Northern Ireland had a referendum and approved the deal. The Irish Republic had a referendum and approved the deal, including downgrading the claim to the North in their 1937 constitution.

  • Ian Sanderson
    The main reason Brexit hasn’t happened is because parliament is stuffed with Remainers who will not vote for any deal and because the main opposition is more interested in forcing a general election. Party political jostling was heightened when the May government lost its majority in 2017. This is a very precarious government with a majority of one seat, resulting in lots of internal squabbles, propped up by a confidence and supply arrangement.

  • David Becket 13th Aug '19 - 10:29am


    What a typical load of Brexit rubbish. If the hard Brexiters had backed May and she had control of her cabinet the her deal would have got through.
    Ian Sanderson has hit the nail on the head

  • David Becket
    I don’t think so. I will not be rude back, tempting though it is.

  • I was happy to leave the details to the government.

    Given that Parliament has rejected the Withdrawal Agreement I expect Leavers will be happy with just leaving on the 31st October. I will be.

    So may the majority of the electorate.

  • Glenn, Glenn really, I thought it had something to do with the ERG and how they voted. Perhaps I got it all wrong.

  • John Peters. You may be right except latest polling say those who think the original decision was wrong are 48%, those who think it was right 41%, taken two weeks ago by YouGov.

  • I’m afraid the Referendum result is the only vote which counts. Hypothetical results from a vote which the Lib Dems and Greens say they will ignore anyhow are pointless.

  • Martin
    No. I’m very aware that re-rudeness and name calling it’s one rule for Remain posters and one for leave posters.

    What I will point out is that most leaver voters I talk to do agree with so-called-hard-Brexit. Most of the conservative MPs that did back May’s deal were actually Remainers, including May herself. The Labour Party, which accepted the referendum result couldn’t really agree to vote even for proposals they actually put foreword themselves. I will also point out that the Lib Dems flip flop between a people’s vote and insisting that parliament must decide because ours is representative democracy or whatever is convenient on any particular given day.
    What I now see is a lot of pro EU people tearing their hair out as they realise there isn’t going to be a peoples vote or an election or a final reprieve before Halloween. I also note, with considerable amusement, that whilst whist British Europhiles want to stay in the EU, most actual Europeans increasingly just want Britain to leave.

  • Looking at who voted against the 3rd meaningful vote on May’s deal, there do not seem to be enough Leavers for that ever to have been carried. A poll of MPs prior to the 2016 referendum showed aprox 2:1 Remain to Leave. That IS the underlying reason why no vote on a deal has passed.

  • “Labour has ruled out an emergency government.”

    Oh no they haven’t. What they have said is that an emergency government must be led by Corbyn.

    Now, I grant you that that’s an uncompromisingly tribalist position. However, so is the position adopted so far by the Lib Dems and Greens, which is that an emergency government must NOT be led by Corbyn.

    What all this tells the national Remain-supporting majority is that when the chips are down, the Lib Dem, Green and Labour parties do not truly care enough about Brexit. They care first and foremost about their little inter-tribal party political game.

    If we are to get out of this morass, somebody will have to act big. On the whole, it is Her Majesty’s Official Opposition who (whatever you think of their leader) have the stronger case. It would be a difficult concession for the Lib Dems to let Corbyn lead. But it would surely be an impossible concession for a party with 247MPs to let a party with 13MPs dictate who should lead an emergency government.

    Pegs on noses, vote for Corbyn as emergency PM. Be ready to limit, very strictly, what Corbyn will be supported to do, and what transgressions by Corbyn would immediately lead to a withdrawal of support and the collapse of the emergency government. But give an emergency government a chance. Don’t let tribalism cause No Deal Brexit.

  • Paul Barker 13th Aug '19 - 1:03pm

    @David Allen
    The problem with a Corbyn-led Government is not the 13 Libdem MPs, its the Tory “Rebels”. Its their Tribalism that is the block & without them we will Fail. Corbyn knows that & is quite happy to Fail as long as he doesn’t get the blame.
    Its not clear that there is any Constitutional/Democratic/Legal route to stop Brexit. Of course Parliament Could do it, the problem is that they lack the will, for now at least. By the time all those “Rebel” MPs find their spines it may well be too late.
    I don’t think that I am being overly pessimistic though I hope that I am.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '19 - 1:18pm

    David Allen 13th Aug ’19 – 12:45pm
    “Pegs on noses, vote for Corbyn as emergency PM.”
    The mathematics require a majority, including some Tory MPs who oppose NO DEAL.
    The outgoing chancellor is one who has explicitly said he would not. Others say OF COURSE NOT or laugh at the suggestion.

  • David Becket 13th Aug '19 - 1:40pm

    The Telegraph Report is both inaccurate and misleading. Read Mark Pack and then complain to IPSO.
    We must stop the misinformation that plagued the referendum from being repeated now things are hotting up.

  • David Becket 13th Aug ’19 – 1:40pm:
    The Telegraph Report is both inaccurate and misleading.

    The Telegraphs figure of 54% excludes ‘Don’t Knows’ which is normal practice. Whether it should be normal practice is a matter of debate, but it’s how such polls are generally reported (e.g. by the People’s Vote campaign). Mark Pack’s second complaint, essentially about using ‘prorogued’ as a synonym for ‘suspended’ seems rather pedantic.

  • Peter Watson 13th Aug '19 - 3:02pm

    “the opinion polls have pretty consistently had Remain in the lead since 2017. Today it would be 52.2 per cent Remain to 47.8 per cent Leave.”
    The opinion polls have pretty consistently had Remain in the lead since January 2015 and when push came to shove we should have learnt not to trust the polling!

  • Peter Watson 13th Aug '19 - 3:13pm

    @theakes “latest polling say those who think the original decision was wrong are 48%, those who think it was right 41%, taken two weeks ago by YouGov.”
    YouGov’s latest poll (5/6 Aug, reports 47% think it was wrong vs 41% right and is a slight shift from 49% vs. 41% on 29/30 July.
    There’s a tracker of this question on YouGov’s polls on this page:

  • The Torygraph long ago gave up any pretentse that it was in anyway attached to facts. It is a Brexit rag, full of Brexit cheer leaders. I notice its down market sister the Daily Hail was quick to run the story.

    As to leavers agreeing with you Glen, quelle surprise, a more pertinent question is what do your remain friends say. And that I think is yours and many a Brexiteers problem, they are not flocking to spend time with “Good Old Glen” anymore, but if we can just get Brexit over the line, well, we can all go for a drink and be friends again. Isnt going to work that way, Brexit has poisoned the discourse for decades to come, your old friends just ain’t coming back; what a sad state we find ourselves in, all because a stupid vote on a subject not many really cared about, has split the country, turned young aginst old, friends against friends, uncovered a nasty streak of xenophobia and feck you Jack. At least I can console myself that I didn’t vote for that, alas not a defence those that did have.

  • Barry Lofty 13th Aug '19 - 3:46pm

    When all is said and done is it really worth all this upset and anger to leave the EU, was being a member of this group making our lives so intolerable that we simply had to leave at any cost, of course it isn’t and never was but it is pretty obvious why Boris and his crew do!

  • @frankie

    “all because a stupid vote on a subject not many really cared about”

    Really, considering it was the biggest democratic turnout in modern history.
    Me thinks you have been inhaling to much of that fairy dust you keep sprinkling about and it’s gone to your head lol

  • Frankie
    I get on with my friends fine. I strongly suspect you’re just projecting you’re own personal problems onto strangers and mistaking it for an insight.

  • David Allen 13th Aug '19 - 4:28pm

    Paul Barker, Richard Underhill,

    You have a point. The Tory “rebels” know that voting for Corbyn could ruin their careers within the Tory party, so they are scared to do so. Nevertheless, it is unhelpful that the Lib Dems and Greens should adopt a position which helps to entench the deadlock. If, as Paul puts it, the problem is not the Lib Dem MPs, then why don’t they demonstrate that, by stating that under the right conditions, they could work with Corbyn?

    Making such a statement would help put pressure on others to compromise. Yes, Labour are at fault, and the Tory rebels are at fault, if they say “Don’t blame me, I knew how I could avoid NDB, it’s just that the others wouldn’t play along with my particular scheme.” And if the Lib Dems take a similar attitude, then they will similarly deserve blame for its consequences.

    Indeed, it could well be the Lib Dems who get the lion’s share of the blame. Corbyn might say “Well, we always accepted that the best thing to do was to implement the referendum with Labour’s soft Brexit, and it’s not our fault that Boris made such a pig’s ear of Brexit.” A Philip Hammond might say “Well, it’s now time my party brought me back to sort out the mess that Boris made, since they know that I stayed loyal to the Party, despite all my misgivings.” But what will the Lib Dems say? “Our main purpose was to stop Brexit, and we failed, because we let tribal enmity get in the way”?

  • David Allen 13th Aug '19 - 4:46pm

    The Telegraph poll by Comres is even dodgier than Mark Pack argues. The full question asked was:

    Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

    “Boris needs to deliver Brexit by any means, including suspending parliament if necessary, in order to prevent MPs from stopping it”

    Now, a problem with that question is that a respondent could answer “agree” if they thought they were being asked to assume that they shared Boris’s aims, and were then being asked how Boris could practicably achieve those aims. A second problem is that a respondent might very well think “hmm, I can’t answer this, I don’t want Brexit, so I can’t really comment on how Boris might best get Brexit done, I had better tick the “don’t know” box.”

    It’s an appallingly loaded question. Try asking the opposite loaded question, Mr Comres. Try “Do you agree that a Prime Minister should ignore the vote of Parliament if Parliament won’t vote for what the Prime Minister wants”? You’ll get 80%+ saying “Disagree”, won’t you? So, why don’t you stop asking loaded questions altogether, Mr Comres?

  • @Matt
    ‘Really, considering it was the biggest democratic turnout in modern history.’

    Check out the 1992 G.E.

  • p.j

    I would call 25 years modern history in political terms 😉
    especially when I am still in my 40’s 🙂

  • On the whole polls get the answer the people paying for the polls weant. Some polls are for information, but I doubt the cheerleading Torygraph wanted that, it wanted a headline to cheer up the faithful.
    As to having friends Glen, given you are a man of leisure, the fact you hang round a website desperately looking for affirmation from a readership that really doesn’t agree with you, I rather think not.

  • Frankie
    I have friends, I would love to be a man of leisure and I’m on he because I’m a Lib Dem voter.

  • @David Allen 12.45pm & 4.28pm: I broadly agree with your argument that, following any successful vote of no confidence against the current Govt, Lib Dem MPs should be prepared, in extremis, to vote for a Corbyn-led emergency Govt. with a strictly defined and time-limited mandate – to stop NDB and to request a further Article 50 extension whilst any General Election is held. Indeed, they could safely vote for this outcome in the certain knowledge that it will still be rejected by a majority of the H of C – because, as we all know, it is highly unlikely that any Tory MPs will vote for Corbyn as PM under any circumstances.
    However, if we are seen to act non tribally and in the wider national interest, we should also be able to ensure that the “rebel” Tories rather than Lib Dems get the blame when Corbyn is rejected. At least we would not be responsible for his failure and would not be feeding Labour’s anti-Swinson narrative.
    Our MPs, together with others including pro-Remain MPs within Labour, should then be in a stronger moral position to put pressure on Corbyn to stand aside and not obstruct any further attempts, within the 14 day period allowed under the FTPA, to construct an alternative viable Govt – which would almost certainly need to be led by a senior backbencher with significant cross-party support.

  • Alex Macfie 13th Aug '19 - 8:16pm

    Sean Hagan: One reasons we narrowly lost Richmond Park in the 2017 election was some people who had voted for Sarah Olney in the by-election said they needed to vote Tory in the general election to stop Jeremy Corbyn getting into No. 10. It didn’t matter how strongly and how often we repeated that we were not under any circumstances going to prop up a Corbyn government, any more than we would a May government. They bought into “It’s May or Corbyn” narrative. At the next election, whenever it is, assuming Corbyn is still Labour leader, the Tories are going to use the same line, that you have to vote Tory to stop Jeremy Corbyn from getting the keys to No.10. If we prop up a Corbyn-led government, even for a few weeks, it will validate that narrative. It’s not only from the Left that we have to fight off claims that we are a stalking horse.

  • Spencer Hagard 13th Aug '19 - 8:37pm

    There’s a problem with your self-referential choice of “25 years to define ‘modern’ in political terms”, namely your arithmetic. You should surely have subtracted 25 from 2016, so making 1991 the start date of ‘modern’, in respect of the EU referendum, and thereby including the 1992 general election comparison as p.j. proposed.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '19 - 9:30pm

    David Allen 13th Aug ’19 – 4:28pm
    The Father of the House is uniquely experienced, not just by continuous service but also by the importance of the jobs he has had in government, such as Chancellor of the Exchequer. They are listed in his auto-biography A Kind Of Blue.
    He has said that he has been advised that if he had toned his pro-European attitudes he might have been elected party leader and responded “What is the point of doing that?”
    When Mrs Thatcher asked the cabinet, one at a time, he was first in saying she should resign, and followed all the others to tell her again. Nota softie, not a wet.
    He has announced that he is standing down at the next general election and is willing to “Crash the government” by voting against NO DEAL.
    Try asking him whether he would vote for Jeremy Corbyn as PM.

  • John Marriott 13th Aug '19 - 10:17pm

    The problem we face is that a No Deal Brexit actually satisfies both extremes of the political spectrum, with which the majority amongst us has traditionally had no sympathy at all.

    For the Marxist left, epitomised by Labour’s John McDonnell and, given his political history, Jeremy Corbyn himself, and aided and abetted by advisers like Seumas Milne, the idea of a siege economy will give the perfect ‘backs to the wall’ scenario for a radical transformation of our economy. For the Free Market Buccaneers such as Dominic Raab, Jacob Rees Mogg and Liz Truss, with the Prince of Darkness, Dominic Cummings, pulling the strings in the background, the same kind of economy will make the creation of a Singapore style low regulatory regime easier to achieve.

    For both extremes to triumph the entire machinery of government, including the civil service, will need to be turned on its head. Is that really what the majority of people want? And all the time waiting in the wings is the Trump led USA, as represented by Secretary of State, the hawkish John Bolton currently over here, who, like his master, managed to avoid the draft to Vietnam. They must be positively salivating at the prospects of the kind of ‘deals’ they might be able to screw out of us as we become ‘Billy no mates’ in the Financial markets if we do renege on our EU financial obligations and cast ourselves adrift.

  • Richard Underhill 14th Aug '19 - 10:38am

    ” If, … the problem is not the Lib Dem MPs, then why don’t they demonstrate that, by stating that under the right conditions, they could work with Corbyn?”
    To have a vote of no confidence in the government we need the current Leader of the Opposition to move it. Jo Swinson has asked him to do that, but he has not yet done so. He is right to say that he should move it when there is a chance of winning it. Labour used to have a bad habit of moving votes of no confidence. For instance after the Ribble Valley by-election result had damaged the Thatcher government’s key policy that she called the Community Charge, others called it the Poll Tax, the Tories were running around like headless chickens. Labour acted to unify the Tories by moving a vote of no confidence. Labour’s Roy Hattersley recognised their mistake.

  • Considering the latest opinion polls and the antics of government and MPs, the easiest thing might be to leave with an undertaking to hold a further referendum in a few years time following a general election, preferably under a fairer voting system. We are hopelessly divided as a nation. Only the tragedy of a no deal Brexit will change sufficient people’s minds to significantly alter a further referendum result that will be necessary at some stage.

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