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View from the House: People's Vote risks creating more division in country but it could be the only answer

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 December 2018

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Our country was, and continues to be, deeply divided by the referendum.

Last week the government was found in contempt of parliament- a situation unique in a thousand years of parliamentary history.

This week the prime minister who once said her deal was the only one on offer, dramatically withdrew it after three days of mauling in Commons debate.

As I write it appears she will now go back to Brussels to do the renegotiation she previously said was impossible. In the Labour Party we think that the prime minister’s stubborn insistence on her own red lines will prevent her from bringing back a deal that could finally gain support in parliament. But we will not undermine any prime minister whilst they are negotiating for our country abroad. The time for a motion of “No Confidence” may well be soon. But parliament must proceed systematically and judiciously.

Whilst I believe a general election is the constitutionally correct way to proceed, there can be no certainty that a general election will be forthcoming. For this reason Labour has ruled nothing off the table, including a so-called People’s Vote. Whilst I recognise that there is significant public support for a second referendum, I consider it would create an even greater sense of disillusion with our democratic system and deepen division in our country. However, I accept it may be the only way to resolve the appalling constitutional mess that two years of disastrous failure by this government has created.

Find a fuller statement on my views at barrygardiner.com.

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