The spectre of a “May’s Deal” or “No Deal” referendum

After this afternoon’s debacle in the Commons, I’m certain that the Prime Minister is trying to run the clock down towards March 29th 2019 so that MPs will have to eventually vote for her deal or risk crashing out of the EU with no deal at all. At the same time I think she’s trying to engineer a personal backstop of a new referendum, should her continuing attempts to blackmail MPs not work. However, I’m convinced that should a Theresa May inspired referendum happen, it would be of the ludicrously high-stakes “my deal or crash out with no deal” kind.

I don’t know how I’d vote in such a referendum. Actively voting for “no deal” is easy to rule out. I want politicians to stop wasting time on Europe, and focus on mending the rifts in our society, tackling poverty and promoting opportunity for all. I’d quite like my cancer drugs, food and power supplies to carry on uninterrupted next year. I want my 33+ years of pension savings to be worth something in retirement.

But to willingly vote for her xenophobic deal which ends free movement and reduces the life chances of everyone in the UK? I think – maybe – I’d prefer to spoil my ballot paper. I can’t decide at the moment if that would be the principled thing to do – or merely stupid. It’s a decision I never want to be forced to make.

A year ago (almost to the day) I wrote:

Kicking the can down the road
The Brexit can is still being kicked. We are all in it together. It’s about to go over the cliff edge with us to our collective doom.

Unless, of course, sane MPs on all sides of the house show some backbone and start to work together. They need either to cancel Brexit by withdrawing our article 50 notification, or ask the electorate to take that decision for them.

As we’re a parliamentary democracy, the first course of action should be the preferred one.

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Reader Comments

  1. Andrew Morrish

    I share yuour frustration.
    The moment when a government of National Unity was needed was after Cameron let the genie out of the bottle when the people’s verdict on an extremely poorly defined Brexit question (and debate) came in.He made a self-serving choice to hold the referendum (that failed him) and that trait continues across the Westminster village today. May had no mandate when she took over and that remains the case now. Minority government delivers the worst sort of politics – and with our current self-preserving elected members being largely unrepresentative and better suited to pantomime it is no wonder that we are getting exactly predictable outcomes.
    I’m sure there will be impacts from implementing something – but a close relationship (unavoidable because of geography, history and tradinh reality) will continue – as a very dynamic thing which, like good strategy, requires a framework treaty for governance only, not something that casts elements into stone precision. I would expect political pragmatism to grasp that straw and provide the sorts of clarifications that are needed for all sides to move on positively together. As I recall treaties like Maastricht were finalised within hours of the deadline so perhaps we need to get the holidays out of the way and look for more urgency nearer the March date?

Your thoughts?