The roadmap to a People’s Vote

Today the People’s Vote campaign set out how we get to a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.

In a report, they set out that Article 50 is revocable, that Parliament has several ways of securing a People’s Vote and discuss what would be on the ballot paper.

It’s really important that people understand that we can get out of this mess so it’s good that they have set out how exactly it could be done.

They set out options for a straight deal vs no deal or deal vs remain or no deal vs remain or all of the above in different stages.

So tell everyone you know how easily this can be sorted out. Don’t let people resign themselves to the inevitability of a rubbish Brexit.

As John Kerr, the author of Article 50, says:

Given the gravity of the situation our country and our democracy are facing, it is important that no decisions are made in haste. And yet we do not have the luxury of time. Of course, it will ultimately be for our elected representatives to determine the precise route to a People’s Vote and the mechanics by which it would operate. Equally, the urgency of this crisis means that these decisions should prioritise speed, clarity and simplicity at every stage.

Indeed, to waste time or to do nothing are perhaps the worst options of all. History will not, in our opinion, be kind to any politician who hides behind purely logistical arguments, legalese or arcane parliamentary procedure in order to deny people a vote on the outcome of these Brexit negotiations at such a fragile and crucial moment for our country.

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  • David Evershed 9th Oct '18 - 4:18pm

    As we all respect the EU referendum result, any further referendum would need to be a choice between two leave options. probably between:

    a) Leave on WTO terms and a variety of side agreements, or

    b) Leave on the terms negotiated between the government and the rest of the EU

  • @David Evershed
    ‘As we all respect the EU referendum result’

    I don’t.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Oct '18 - 6:25pm

    @David Evershed: No vote can restrict the terms of any future vote, and every vote overrides the one before it. That’s how democracy works. Therefore it is absolutely legitimate to have an EU referendum with an option of reversing the previous referendum result. This no more disrespects the 2016 vote than the next general election will disrespect the one held last year.

  • innocent Bystander 9th Oct '18 - 7:20pm

    “legitimate to have an EU referendum with an option of reversing the previous referendum result.”

    Yes but after the first decision has been implemented. It would be ridiculous to rerun a general election before parliament had even met. We didn’t repeat the 1975 referendum in 1976.

  • If there is in fact no deal because the 2 sides can’t agree, or if the “deal” bears absolutely no resemblance to the future promised by the official leave campaign, then it’s perfectly legitimate for remain to be an option in another referendum.

  • “As we all respect the EU referendum result”

    Yes, I respect the result of the 2016 opinion poll aka referendum. However, I totally disagree with the Conservatives interpretation of the result and chosen remedy and course of action.

    I think the report linked to by the article is interesting and well researched; Until reading it, I hadn’t fully appreciated the legal significance of the word “intention”.

  • Sean Hyland 9th Oct '18 - 7:41pm

    We live, hopefully, in a democracy. If a vote happens that’s ok. People can continue to campaign again if they wish after the vote as they do after every vote. Just hope for some better campaigns from both sides of it happens.

  • We are over two years past the vote, there is still no plan! If a general election had failed to provide a government within two years of the vote, you would have another one. Come up with a plan agree it with the EU and then put it to the people, but you don’t want to do that because you would have to accept the form of Brexit we are getting isn’t the one that was promised, so you want to fudge a Brexit and hope the issue goes away. I know it is embarrassing you are not getting your own “Personal Brexit” but then you never where and to think otherwise was just wishful thinking. We all make mistakes my brave Brexiteers but

  • Peter Watson 9th Oct '18 - 8:06pm

    @David Evershed “As we all respect the EU referendum result”
    @P.J. “I don’t.”
    This neatly sums up what I think has been a real problem for Lib Dems since the referendum.
    Claiming to respect the result, describing it as a vote for departure rather than a destination, changing track on a “neverendum”, being vague/evasive about what should be in any second referendum and whether or not the party would be campaigning for Remain regardless, … all this has meant that despite being a pro-EU party and using every opportunity in the media (fewer since 2015) to talk about Brexit, polling has shown that voters aren’t much clearer about the Lib Dem stance and policies with respect to Brexit than they are with the hopelessly muddled and divided Conservative and Labour parties (e.g.
    I don’t think this is just because of a lack of publicity for Lib Dems (after all, we had a general election campaign last year), and I wonder how different things might have been for both the party and the campaign to remain in the EU if Lib Dems had stated from the outset unambiguously, “We don’t respect that result!”.

  • Peter
    The problem with the we “don’t respect the vote” stance is it just looks thwarted, undemocratic and churlish. A better argument for pro EU camp would be something along the lines of “we will keep fighting”. When there is an election no one sensible says we “don’t respect the vote”, but equally it doesn’t mean they give up campaigning for their cause. I’m a republican. if there was a vote on the monarchy and it delivered a pro-royal result I would respect the vote but I would still be a republican and argue for the republican cause. As a Leave voter I would have respected a Remain vote but would still not support it. It depends how you look at the world. By and large, I think it’s sensible not to see opponents as enemies but simply as people you disagree with.

  • Richard Elliott 9th Oct '18 - 11:24pm

    “Respecting the vote” means that the govt of the day has to attempt to bring about its outcome – which they have been. It cant mean that the opposition cannot campaign against it and the particular interpretation of the govt on what Brexit is, that’s the meaning of democracy. Everybody knows much more 2.5 years on, and we have the right to review the original decision in the light of what deal the government have obtained and whether it matches to the original claims. For example, this is the case in trade union negotiations. To claim that respecting the vote means that we cant change our mind and have a remain option, is a negation of democracy. In political elections the choice cant be limited based on the previous vote ! We must be willing to engage with the leave side but continue to oppose Brexit and argue to be at the heart of Europe, or give up.

  • I did respect the vote in 2016. Very reluctantly, but I did respect it, and so did the party.
    Two things have changed since then.
    1. The government proceeded to botch the process, coming up with a form of Brexit which nobody supports and risking an extremely damaging exit.
    2. The Leave campaign was found to have broken the law.
    It is under these circumstances that we demand that people be given the right to change their minds.

  • John Barrett 9th Oct '18 - 11:54pm

    Does anyone have any idea of what our party’s position would be after another vote, if the result was either the same as last time, or very close, but in the other direction.

    Would it continue to campaign for yet another vote if the result was the same as last time? Or would it claim that this result was the end of it if it was Remain by a small margin.

    Unless their is a massive swing in either direction, which is not indicated by any poll, nothing will be settled or answered by simply having one more vote, unless all parties make it clear before that vote, exactly what each possible result would mean.

    As far as I can see, nobody promoting another vote has done that, or intends to do so.

    Maybe that is why the general public have lost faith in those elected politicians who are interested in their own party’s interest ahead of the wider national interest or good.

  • Steve Trevethan 10th Oct '18 - 8:22am

    What I do not want is a return to civil war in the island of Ireland.
    If that is the result of hard-line theorising and practice on referendas then we are making a mistake which is bigger than the moral, political and economic aspects of this matter.

  • I didn’t respect the referendum vote before or after it happened. I now reluctantly accept the need for another vote because the outcome of a flawed process (i.e. a referendum) will only carry weight with the minority, of whatever stripe, in the medium/long term if it results from a repeat of the flawed process. It is a terrible indictment of our politics that MPs do not have the confidence to take a decision without it.

  • Goeff, you are right. We have a Parliamentary democracy and ideally there should have been a campaign among MPs of all parties that the referendum campaign was flawed, that it should never have happened and therefore there should be a completely ‘free’ vote in Parliament on the issue of whether we should remain or leave under whatever terms are now agreed. I have great respect for our Labour MP who recently spoke at a public meeting arguing that we should stay in the EU. He also had the decency to acknowledge my role on behalf of the Lib-Dems as our candidate last year, though he also gave reasons why he did not favour a second referendum. If only far more MPs had his courage of conviction seeing it as part of his job to persuade people and not be a populist. He has, of course, annoyed many of his Labour party members.

  • With a fair wind, we can use the Brexit shambles as an opportunity to reassert the will of the people in a fresh referendum if the government can be persuaded that process is as important as outcome. Gaining another referendum is only part of the story; history will record how fair the new one is. Can we be shown to be a nation that learns from its mistakes?

  • How can anyone ‘respect’ a referendum result when the facts were not known and lies were being knowingly told? Even if I buy an ISA or insurance policy I get time to read what I think I was offered and if not I can legally withdraw. There’s nothing definitive for me to read – even now!

  • There’s nothing definitive for me to read – even now!
    Yes, it is notable that the Brexiteer Conservative MPs are unable to agree on a Brexit and that Rees-Mogg has refused to publish his promised plan out of fear of it being ridiculed; which given what little he has published has been branded as being “quite, quite mad” probably isn’t too far from the truth if it were to be published.

    I’m sure this lack a plan and consensus could and should be utilised to ridicule the Brexiteers – how can Brexit be in the “national interest” when you’re unable to come up with a plan…

  • @John Barrett
    “Does anyone have any idea of what our party’s position would be after another vote, if the result was either the same as last time, or very close, but in the other direction.”

    AIUI we have been a consistently pro-European party since the 1960s – well before the UK joined the EEC. Clearly the other parties have been very, very more mixed.

    The history of economics has been one of bigger and bigger single markets – the regions of the UK, England and Wales, then Scotland joined the UK. There is a reason for this and the Liberals support (including our predecessor parties, the Jenkins wing of the Labour party and part of the Tories). Bigger single markets mean a much bigger economy and cake to share. The also mean more social protection and protection for worker rights etc. as undercutting by a competing nearby nation is more difficult with at least minimum standards.

    I would suggest that if Brexit won a second referendum we would continue to strongly make that case.

    There is always a tension between “nation states” and bigger bodies. We should be clear that the nation state is a very good and indeed liberal organising structure – with collective provision it has lead to the welfare state, pensions, free health care etc.

    And it rightly has a strong enduring appeal. Scotland. Countries such as Latvia, Estonia that were part of the USSR. The federal states of Germany. Strong state autonomy in the US. And there will always be arguments around this.


    It is completely and utterly stupid and bad economically that if I go 20 miles in one direction I have freedom of movement and can trade freely – but not, come Brexit, 20 miles in the other direction – that happens to be into France.

    Come back in 50 years time, My 100% certain prediction is that the UK will be a member of the EU. Whatever we should be strongly making this argument – we will be on the side of history and we will be putting the argument for greater prosperity for our fellow citizens and better funded public services.

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