Our future should be in the hands of the people, not right wing Tories and the DUP

Our country’s fate will tonight be decided by the right wing of the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party. That, really, is not a good place for us to be in. And let’s not forget those Labour MPs who will choose to back the deal to get us out of the EU. They are unlikely to face any consequences from their leadership for doing so.

They may take whatever fig leaf Theresa May has begged from EU leaders as the only way to keep Brexit alive. If the deal goes down tonight, the momentum is with those of us calling from a People’s Vote.

Let’s not forget that the deal itself is terrible. So much that has been kicked down the road. We have no idea what our future trading relationship would be like. It’s likely that that will be decided not by Theresa May, but by a future ERG backed Tory leader who wants to turn us into a regulation-light Singapore.

As I wrote in January:

For me, the worst thing is that it kicks so much down the road. We haven’t got a clue about what our future trading relationships with the EU and everyone else would look like.

Failure to reach a trade agreement before the end of the transition period could put us on a dash off the cliff edge at the end of next year. Except at that point we would be out of the EU with nothing we can do about it.

Don’t think the extreme No Dealers in the Conservative Party are going to give up fighting for that calamitous option if May manages to get her deal through. The moment of danger will not pass if we get a deal. That’s one of the many reasons why we need a People’s Vote.

Tom Brake said similar on Twitter

MPs will be expected to vote with just a few hours’ debate on an agreement that was reached late last night. That’s not what you could call acceptable democratic scrutiny. The only fair way is to put it to the people.

Vince said that last night:

Midnight flits to Strasbourg and desperate late night Commons statements underline the chaos into which Project Brexit has descended.

It is time for Ministers to admit that this brinkmanship is fruitless. They cannot negotiate a better deal than being in the EU, because the UK is stronger inside as a full member.

The only way out of this crisis is to extend Article 50, and let the people choose between the Withdrawal Agreement and staying in the EU.

Layla took a slightly different approach


It is beyond doubt that any deal falls short of our current arrangements with the EU. Even a much softer deal which would keep us aligned with EU regulations would harm the country. This deal is a hard Brexit that doesn’t give us a clear way forward. I don’t want the country to take a leap into the dark because of the ideological preoccupations of the right wing of the Conservative Party. It is polite, and democratic, to put it to the public vote.

If you think the country deserves better, you don’t have long to make your voice heard. Join us. 


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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • No one will be turning Britain into Singapore. It’s a very different place with a different way of doing things.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Mar '19 - 8:45am

    It is the avowed aim of the right wing of the Tory party to go for a small state light regulation country which is really bad news for workers’ rights, public services and safety regulations, not to mention the NHS.

  • Shouldn’t we blame Labour Brexit MPs?

  • Peter Martin 12th Mar '19 - 9:08am

    Even if the Tory right wing do get their way over Brexit, which I would say is unlikely, there little chance of them getting their way in turning the UK into Singapore MkII. Leaving the EU isn’t going to give them a free hand to do what they like. There’s the not so small matter of winning elections first.

    I see Geoff Reid, in a later posting today, has just quoted Tony Benn with some approval:

    “If one meets a powerful person ……….. ask them five questions: What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?”

    Tony Benn used this as an argument against the EU too. It’s the preservation of our democracy which has to be paramount.

  • Arnold Kiel 12th Mar '19 - 9:19am

    The PM and Juncker put on a dramatic show last night while minimising the time available for closer scrutiny of the outcome. I do not think it matters much:

    True leavers must now support May; they will pretend the Strasbourg smoke-screen is something real because they have anyhow decided to rip up the GFA in due course. Eventually, irrespective of any contract, the EU cannot defend the GFA against a Johnson- or Rees-Mogg led UK government. Irish reunification will solve that problem, the DUP is finished and has served its purpose. If unionists thought strategically, they would have to prevent Brexit now.

    “Pragmatic” remainers were always conveniently hiding behind the rather irrelevant backstop which just enforces the close alignment they always wanted as an acceptable compromise.

    As enough Tory-rebels stand, the votes of labour-leavers, i.e. Corbyn’s party management will be decisive.

  • richard underhill 12th Mar '19 - 9:26am

    The Mayor of San Fransisco should keep out of this, opinions are raw enough already.
    Although the “Democratic” Unionist Party have an arm-lock on the PM they do not represent current business opinion in Northern Ireland, nor political opinion.
    The DUP, including their leader, have a responsibility for the fact that the NI Assembly has not met since it was elected and, unlike the Westminster MPs, the MLAs were elected by a fair electoral system, the Single Transferable Vote.

  • Yesterday was like a Paul Daniels trick. We watched as the smoke and mirrors of “will she, won’t she go to Strasbourg” played out. May was tied to the rails with the ‘meaningful vote’ locomotive bearing down; could she escape? Of course she could; ‘with one bound she was free’ and taking applause..

    The idea that anything meaningful has changed was almost immediately contradicted by the EU.

    Theresa May stated that her understanding was that the UK “could unilaterally withdraw from the backstop”. Juncker stated that “the EU had not agreed to the prime minister’s central demand.”

    To cap it all the view from Dublin:
    1. Withdrawal Agreement is unchanged
    2. Joint statement is a legal interpretations of what’s in the WA (agreed by both sides)
    3. Unilateral statement is UK talking to themselves.

    I expect Cox will give his legal approval but let’s not forget that a previous attorney general gave the go ahead for the Iraq war on ‘legal’ grounds. They usually know what their boss wants.

    Will it be enough to allow the sceptics in the DUP/ERG to vote for it and still save face? Probably; but yesterday the can was just given a really hard kick and when it’s inspected, post-Brexit, it will look exactly the same.

  • John Marriott 12th Mar '19 - 9:42am

    @richard underhill
    On the subject of Northern Ireland it can be argued that the DUP’s stance on Brexit doesn’t even reflect majority opinion over there, at least according to a recent opinion poll. It’s just a pity that Sinn Fein’s ‘MPs’, to paraphrase the late Lord Howe, won’t even pad up to go out to bat for their constituents, because they don’t recognise the pitch on which they are supposed to be playing.

    Let me say to all those who use the phrase ‘People’s Vote’ rather like those, who talk about ‘simply trading on WTO rules’. Be careful what you wish for. I’m still hoping that Parliament will eventually take control and, in the spirit of the 2016 Referendum, we might end up, says such worthies as Simon Jenkins and Peter Hitchens have said, ‘half in and half out’ of the EU. Anyone for Common Market 2.0?

  • John Marriott,

    to get to Norway+ or CM 2.0, the next UK Government(s), the new EU Commission, the new European Parliament, and all EU and EEC-members would have to agree on that. No HoC vote, today or until June, will guarantee that outcome; May’s WA does not stand in its way.

    The key obstacle to this outcome is the survival of this Tory-Government until 2022 which would be guaranteed by the ratification of the WA. Tory-party-unity and May would not survive a Brino-negotiation; Tory members will put a hard Brexiter in charge, and reverse any “vasselage”-votes they pragmatically supported 2019 to get to irreversibility of Brexit. Your only chance would be a Labour government in 2022 and largely failed, i.e. still open UK-EU negotiations on the future relationship. The cost of this adventure would be tremendous. A controversial remain-decision 2019 will be a walk in the park by comparison.

  • Any power that the ERG get their hands on, you can be sure, will be good for them and bad for the UK, Simples!!

  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore may have a more open policy but it still follows best practice.

  • William Fowler 12th Mar '19 - 11:01am

    I don’t think the ERG will be able to pass any meaningful laws so that they can turn the UK into a lean and mean capitalist enterprise until the next election when there might well be the stark choice between Big State Labour and low tax Conservative party – so the people will still have the choice as to which way they want to go. Trade deals can be changed by successive governments unlike the withdrawal agreement so the democratic process can either be the ruin of the country (Labour) or get it firing on all barrels (Conservative) but hopefully the next election will not be a rerun of whether we should stay or leave or even rejoin the EU because that would then obscure the underlying policies of the parties.

  • Well Mr Cox shot down the new deal. His conclusion the legal risk remains unchanged. No fig leaf for the DUP or ERG to change their minds. If they now vote for the deal they are voting naked with no pretence of “Emperors New Clothes”. Intresting times ahead.

  • David Raw,

    I see this as a balancing act between accommodating France, advancing the (IMO right) idea of a common foreign- and security-policy (with an open invitation to the UK), but not too aggressively, moving the Christian Democrats slightly right, to lure some of the more moderate AfD nationalists/populists. It is the convoluted attempt to straddle Europe and the nation in febrile times when nobody knows where the votes will go. Predictably, the Social Democrats and the Greens will support France slightly more to hopefully minimise the populist vote in Germany overall. The European aircraft carrier is a symbol, like the UK’s, just cheaper. By the time it and its rules of engagement are specified and could be ordered (not before 2025), priorities will have moved on. Everybody in Germany supports the UK’s permanent seat in the UN security council (another meaningless symbol).

  • Caron Lindsay’s title to this thread is spot on. It appears that Theresa May has told Tory MPs that failure to back this deal will result in “a devastating party split”..

    That just about says it all.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Mar '19 - 1:01pm

    This particular article and thread is way off .

    Tom Brake things w are fooled or anyone is who backs the deal, because it shall prolong things yet.

    Does he or this party think a choice between a deal they think is trash and remain which the referendum rejected is not prolonging the divisiveness, the distrust?!

    Wake up, polls reveal few have fully changed the position held, the only solution is a compromise.

    The deal is lousy.

    So were the negotiating tactics on both sides.

    This party is not what I thought. It is incapable of understanding reality sometimes.

  • I’ve got to admit, I’ve never really supported Britain’s permanent place on UN’s security council. I suspect it just encourages militarism and over spending. I also believe we should scrap our nuclear weapons and the aircraft carriers – which, IMO, were mostly symbols of Blair’s foolish attempts at projecting power during an era of pointless costly military failure and posturing on the world stage.

  • The UK is leaving the EU. Brexit is going to happen. The Lib Dems are on the wrong side of history and will pay a heavy price come election time. The UK can and will prosper outside the EU.
    It saddens me to see a once proud Liberal progressive Party bring reduced to a fringe group obsessed with one objective to stay in the EU.
    In a hundred years time history books will show how wrong the Lib Dems were about Brexit.

  • @ David Raw
    I doubt you too will be doing much of anything either !!!

  • Over the years we, as a party, have failed to get a clear message across about the reality of the European Union.
    The Prime Minister’s statement this morning about temporary zero tariffs on most imports transforms making decisions on the hoof into an art form. I am writing this of course before hearing the strictly confidential cabinet discussions being transmitted to the world.
    The problem we have is that no one is prepared to put resources into getting a clear message out there.

  • Assuming no deal falls, we are still in a perilous situation. Remaining in the EU by revoking Article 50 is my preferred option – tidy and clear though not liked by many. Perhaps our MPs could vote on a motion to revoke Article 50 and commence detailed measures to campaign to improve the inclusiveness of the eu and to reconsider by popular vote in about 5 years time.

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