Well, at least the Liberal “Democrats” have put some clear blue water between the main political parties on Brexit in the run-up to a General Election and/or second referendum.
Their party conference voted to cancel Brexit if they win a majority in the next Parliament, which sounds pretty final. But it doesn’t sound very democratic to just revoke the Article 50 designed to let countries leave the EU. Surely the very least they should offer is a second referendum!
Won’t it play into the hands of the Brexit Party? Maybe that’s what the Lib Dems secretly hope if Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured above) fails to take the UK out of the European Union by October 31.
Splitting the Leave vote
A surge in votes for Nigel Farage’s group would probably follow and split the Leave supporters between the Tories and Brexit Party.
Labour leavers unwilling to just cancel the last referendum outcome may decide to stick with Jeremy Corbyn’s “smorgasbord” of options, which now clearly favours the choice of offering a Labour Brexit or Remaining in the EU in a second people’s vote.
But those Labour members in the big metropolis may be tempted by the Lib Dem move to scrap Brexit altogether at one stroke. It is certainly a novel way to end the three-year nightmare following the 52% to 48% majority in favour of leaving the European Union in the last referendum.
But it would cause uproar in Leave majority towns and rural communities.
Playing with fire
For while we are all sick of the endless Brexit chatter, the Liberals’ assertive new leader Jo Swinson is playing with fire. Our democracy has been damaged enough by the whole Brexit saga and Mr Johnson suspending Parliament.
But just pushing through a “hard Remain” because the opposition is so divided is not the answer!
Even Green Party leader Caroline Lucas says Jo Swinson’s party can’t pretend the Brexit referendum result didn’t happen or ignore the 17 million that voted Leave. “That doesn’t strengthen our democracy. It further imperils it,” tweeted Lucas.
So, we’ve ended up with a cavalier new Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson depleting his ranks of MPs by booting out those Tories trying to stop a possible “no-deal” Brexit and Labour coming out stronger by the day in favour of a second people’s vote – or two people’s votes in reality.
First, they want a General Election after Boris Johnson’s October 31 Brexit deadline has failed to be met just like Theresa May’s deadline in March this year. Then they want a second referendum, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says should settle the matter once and for all.
A three options referendum
I don’t want to over-complicate thing and I fear this may do just that. But in the best of all worlds I would favour the “second people’s vote” to have three options to give everyone a choice of a vote to:
- Remain in the EU
- Leave without a deal
- Leave with a better Labour deal including staying in the Single European Market and Customs Union
It would have to use the single transferable vote system, where voters pick their first and second best choices to solve the Brexit dilemma.
The choice with the least support drops out and those voters’ second favoured options are then shared with the two remaining front-runners to find an overall winner.
Like I say, it is probably too complicated for many people to understand, but it would give all sides the chance to vote for their favourite position and a second choice that they could live with.