New Brexit plan stokes hopes of fresh referendum

Campaigners have welcomed a new plan designed to find a solution to the ongoing Brexit impasse.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

11 Feb 2019

Under the proposal, it is hoped that UK Prime Minister Theresa May could win the UK Parliament’s approval for her controversial Brexit deal in return for guaranteeing another referendum.

The plan has been drawn up by a cross-party group of British MPs and the new vote would give the British people a simple choice: to confirm the decision or stay in the EU.

The initiative, aimed at breaking the political impasse, is being put forward by Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson and has won the support of prominent Remainers in the Tory party including Sarah Wollaston, Dominic Grieve and Anna Soubry.


Kyle says the idea, which is likely to be put forward as an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill and which could be voted on by the UK Parliament as early as this week, is also being taken seriously by “people at a high level in government” as a potential way to resolve the Brexit crisis.

The House of Commons will this week debate and vote on a Government motion on the next steps in the Brexit negotiations, while on Monday the UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is due to meet EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels to discuss possible changes to the Brexit deal.

The cross-party plan was welcomed as a possible breakthrough by Roger Casale, a former Labour MP who now runs New Europeans, a Brussels-based group campaigning for citizens’ rights after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March.

On Monday, he told this website, “We think this is the way forward. We are saying the Withdrawal Agreement should be passed into law first but with a ‘sunset clause’ to allow for the referendum.”

“It would be ironic if the people with the least say and the most to lose should come up with the breakthrough proposal that leads to Brexit being stopped” Roger Casale, New Europeans

“This is an original proposal and I believe the fact that it has been picked up by these MPs is of the highest importance. It would be ironic if the people with the least say and the most to lose (EU citizens in the UK and Britons in Europe and our supporters around Europe) should come up with the breakthrough proposal that leads to Brexit being stopped. But that could be what happens,” Casale added.


In a letter to Theresa May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and EU leaders, British and EU citizens in the UK and across EU Member States have called for a second referendum on the day of the European elections in May in order “to break the Brexit deadlock.”

The letter asks EU leaders to offer Britain a 3-month extension so that a new referendum can be held on 23 May, the day of the European elections.

Crucially, the campaigners also call on the Labour party to sign off on the Withdrawal Agreement, but only once the extension of three months has been granted and the referendum has been agreed and the legislation passed to secure it.

EU citizens have been promised guarantees of their rights in the UK if Britain leaves without a deal but the position of Britons in the EU in such circumstances is still uncertain.

On this, Casale said, “We cannot stand the uncertainty any longer and the disruption to our lives and those of our friends, families, colleagues and others around Europe. It is now time to act. It is time to cut the Gordian knot that is holding everything back.”

He says that if there were an election on 23 May, and Britain voted to stay, Article 50 would be revoked, the Withdrawal Agreement would be null and void and British MEPs could take up their seats in the new European Parliament on 2 July.

“If Britain voted to leave , it would do so on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement - Member States would add extra MEPs to replace the British ones based on the pre-agreed formula,” Casale added.


Meanwhile, a new study by economists has claimed that 100,000 jobs in Germany could be at risk from a no-deal Brexit.

The study was conducted by economists at the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) and the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg.

Oliver Holtemöller, co-author of the study, said “The employment effects of a hard Brexit would be noticeable above all at the automobile locations,” particularly in the regions of Wolfburg and lower Bavaria.

The study also claims that over 600,000 people globally could be affected by a no-deal Brexit.

Elsewhere, former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said on Sunday that a no-deal Brexit would “potentially be devastating” for the peace process in Northern Ireland, adding, “it is contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and it will cause an enormous fissure within the United Kingdom.”

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