Opinion: Tulip Siddiq MP wants Brexit options put back to the people
PUBLISHED: 08:30 20 April 2019
It has been a relentless few months in Parliament, with each day bringing a new raft of votes on the fundamental questions of Brexit.
The EU has granted a six-month extension to Article 50 on the condition Britain does not “waste time” in deciding the way forwards. As a result, politicians are now faced with a few key questions.
Will we continue with futile efforts to break the deadlock in the Commons? Will we continue to spend billions preparing for a catastrophic “no deal” scenario? Or will we give the public a clear set of options to choose from?
The current debate over a public vote bears little resemblance to February 2017, when I was one of few MPs to vote against triggering Article 50. I did so because I felt there was an unacceptable level of uncertainty facing European citizens, the trade relationship between the UK and EU and, of course, the situation in Northern Ireland.
With the Prime Minister failing to achieve enough support for her deal on three separate occasions, calls for a second referendum have only grown louder. Though I am pleased that my view is now more widely shared, we cannot allow the humiliation of begging for extensions to Article 50 to continue.
The answer cannot be found in Westminster – even if some alternative “solutions” have proven more popular than others. In the “indicative votes” process, a significant number of MPs supported a customs union, and another significant minority supported a Norway-style deal. However, Parliament remains hopelessly divided in trying to find a majority for anything.
The Prime Minister cannot satisfy the hard Brexiteers, nor will she compromise with the Labour Party's demands for a customs union and close single market alignment. Meanwhile, her cabinet is prioritising their imminent leadership contest instead of focusing on the future of the country. This is unforgivable at a moment of national crisis.
Luckily, a clear answer can be found by asking the electorate. The latest poll conducted by Kantar found that over 50 per cent of the public are in favour of any final deal or agreement reached by the government being put to a public referendum. Set against this context, it is no surprise that support for a “confirmatory vote” has surged in the Commons.
The very nature of our democracy is that people can change their view, not least once they are in full possession of relevant facts.
As such, I reject the view of those who say a second referendum is somehow undemocratic. People are simply demanding the right to register their dissent and demand a different path.
Brexit threatens jobs and economic prosperity, and there is no “deal” outside the EU that would be better than the one we have now. The people should be given a chance to deliver their verdict and ensure the national conversation can return to confronting the major inequalities in our society.