MPs reconsider Brexit proposal involving second referendum

Written by Martin Banks on 14 August 2019 in News
News

A plan designed to pass the UK Withdrawal Agreement in exchange for a second referendum on EU membership is being looked at again by MPs, it has emerged.

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The development comes as discussions take place about the perceived need for a “government of national unity” in Britain as an alternative to the Boris Johnson government.

Talks between the two sides are currently on hold, with the UK Prime Minister insisting that Britain will exit the EU on 31 October “without or without a deal.”

British Labour MP Peter Kyle, one of the key supporters of the proposal, said he believes there is now a majority for a so-called “confirmatory referendum” with the government’s Brexit plan pitted against Remain.


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The idea of a “confirmatory referendum” was first put forward on 4 February in an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn, the UK government and the EU.

Explaining the idea, former Labour MP Roger Casale told this website: “A way must be found to break the parliamentary impasse - we believe that our compromise proposal is the way to achieve this.”

“What we ask is that MPs sign the Withdrawal Agreement into law but with a sunset clause in the legislation which gives time for a referendum – a straight choice between leaving on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and remaining in the EU.”

"If Britain leaves, it will do so on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement – there will be no further parliamentary debate because the agreement will already have been passed into law before the referendum."

“What we ask is that MPs sign the Withdrawal Agreement into law but with a sunset clause in the legislation which gives time for a referendum – a straight choice between leaving on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and remaining in the EU” Roger Casale, New Europeans

“If the UK votes to remain, then the Withdrawal Agreement is not needed and is automatically voided,” added Casale, founder of New Europeans, a citizens’ rights campaign group.

Further comment came from leading UK-based political commentator Ian Dunt who, speaking of the compromise proposal, said at the time, “This is a sensible attempt at a compromise: turns the Withdrawal Agreement into the default Brexit and offers a democratic say on the final deal as it is in reality."

A cross-party group of MPs led by Kyle and another UK Labour MP, Phil Wilson, subsequently took up the proposal, which was debated three times in the House of Commons as former UK Prime Minister Theresa May sought in vain to achieve a parliamentary majority for the deal she had negotiated.

Faced with the near certainty of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October under a Boris Johnson government, there is speculation that MPs will pass a vote of no confidence in early September when MPs return from the summer recess and before the party conference season.

In these circumstances, parliament will have two weeks to propose an alternative government, which could be a government of national unity, a cross-party government brought together with the sole aim of preventing a no deal Brexit.

The best way to do that, argues Casale, is through the “confirmatory referendum” as proposed by New Europeans and supported by Peter Kyle MP and his colleagues, rather than a general election as favoured by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party leader.

“Let’s hope that this time round the MPs pushing for our compromise proposal will have the numbers,” Casale told this website.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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