Several Tory rebels, from those 21 MPs who had the whip removed, have publicly stated that another EU referendum might be a way out of the current Brexit predicament. Behind closed doors, several are privately considering backing a referendum. This is what was always likely to happen when Johnson kicked them out of the Conservative party – freed from the group, they could contemplate what may be the only way to avoid the no deal they are willing to sacrifice their careers to halt. Johnson must have realised this on some level – is a referendum what he secretly wants?
Getting the Tory Remainers on board is what has always prevented a parliamentary majority for a People’s Vote. Now that this impediment is being removed, it makes a People’s Vote much, much more likely. The current parliament could vote for such a thing in October. In fact, it probably will do so, although anything and everything is possible at this stage.
Again, does Johnson want this, at least a little? Just as a second referendum would have saved May, at least for a while, the same goes for Johnson. Let’s say parliament votes through a referendum to take place in June 2020. If Remain won, I think it would benefit Johnson, so long as he could stay leader of the Conservative party (by no means certain, admittedly). The Brexit question could be put aside, very unlikely to be revisited again; Johnson could talk about a domestic agenda again and remind voters in traditional Tory seats that voting for the Brexit party will not bring you Brexit as the cause is dead, while voting Lib Dem will probably get you Corbyn. In the wake of a 2020 Remain referendum win, I think Boris Johnson would win a 2022 general election. Mostly as an anti-Corbyn vote, but that would probably be enough.
Of course, this seems to cut against all current wisdom. Johnson’s fate is tied to Brexit, isn’t it? Only if he is called upon to deliver it. If the people reject Brexit in a People’s Vote, then Johnson is freed from having to deliver the impossible: a Brexit that isn’t massively damaging.
It is impossible to say what British politics will be like in 2022, referendum or no referendum, so I am not predicting anything here. I’m simply saying that when presented with a host of terrible options, the prime minister might actually be best served by another EU referendum, no matter how odd that sounds.
A schop says
You are correct a second referendum remain win would change the chancer to swing to one nation domestic agenda
I guarantee you that the lying lazy lizard would be overjoyed
What pisses me off is that corbyn is a conviction brexiteer and the pm is a remainer
Labour have no chance of winning election remainers will vote liberal
A schop says
The lazy lying lizard chancer would love a second referendum win for remain
Result no damage to the economy
Full steam ahead to outspend new labour as a one nation tory
The misfortune of the labour party to be unable to pick a side in most important matter since second world war because it is led by a brexiteer
Utter disaster for labour
Swinson will clean up tory and labour remainers
What would the question be?
But what would the question be?
A schop says
No referendum just scrap brexit
Liberal policy as a lifelong labour voter I would vote liberal bollocks to brexit
Matt (Bristol) says
I would imagine that any cross-party alliance that passed law mandating a referendum whilst forcing BJ to remain in power would be sensible enough to include in that legislation, clauses requiring an independent commission to frame the question.
Personally, I could live with an AV referendum with multiple options, these probably being (at time of writing):
– Exit on WTO terms, seeking a deal with a non-EU nation (ie USA) as primary priority, and a free trade deal with EU as a secondary priority.
– A putative Johnson Withdrawal Deal with partial back-stop arrangements re: certain aspects of trade in NI only, followed by free trade deal with EU
– The May Withdrawal Deal with UK-wide backstop followed by free trade deal with EU
– The May Withdrawal Deal with UK-wide backstop followed by permanent Customs Union with EU
– Remain in EU
Those are the options that have made it as far as half-way meaningful discussions with EU, and/or seem to have some kind of consensus in parliament behind them (with the exception of no deal, but the govt is keen to keep it on the table, so I would make that concession to them).
I would imagine that any cross-party alliance that passed law mandating a referendum whilst forcing BJ to remain in power would be sensible enough to include in that legislation, clauses requiring an independent commission to frame the question
As I understand it, the way referendum legislation works (or at least has worked in practise) is that the commons come up with a proposed wording, that goes out to the Electoral Commission, they make a recommendation, and the Commons then has the final say on whether to accept their recommendation or not.
Nevertheless, my point is I don’t believe there’s any specific question which could command a majority in the House. For instance, I don’t believe there’s a majority who would vote for eiither a two-option or a multi-open question; and also I don’t believe there’s a majority who would vote either to include, or to exclude, the option of leaving without a deal.
For instance, say there are A MPs who are against any second referendum, and B who are in favour. Now, if B > A, then you might say, a hah, there is a majority for a second referendum!
But then imagine within B there are some — B1, let’s call them — who would never accept a referendum which includes the option of leaving without a deal. And also there are some — B2 — who will never accept a referendum which doesn’t include the option of leaving without a deal.
And there are some who just want a second referendum and are willing to compromise on the question. But I suspect there actually aren’t all that many of them. Because none of them actually wants a second referendum for its own sake: they only want it in order to stop the UK leaving the EU. And they all have stong, but differing, views of how to gerrymander the question to get that result. Some want no-deal on there, either because they think that being the only alternative is the best way to get people to back remain instea dbecause they will be scared of voting to leave without a deal; or because they think a referendum without that option will not be seen as legitimate by Leavers and so will not actually solve the issue. Others cannot countenence no-deal being on there either because they are scared it will win, or because they think they can arrange for a referendum where both options are essentially Remain.
So now when the bill comes, it’s not just a matter of B being greater than A. If the question includes to option of leaving with out a deal, not only will A MPs vote against it, but B1 will too. Will that leave enough votes for it to pass? I doubt it.
Similarly if it does not include the option of leaving without a deal, A + B2 MPs will vote against it. Will the supporters of the bill be able to outnumber them? I suspect not.
So the idea of a second referendum will crash — like so much else in this Parliament — on the rocks of MPs knowing what they are against but there not being any ability to organise a majority for any specific, concrete, alternative.