Yesterday I spoke to Sky News about the latest Brexit developments. I said I could not see any way that legislation proposed by the current Prime Minister will be passed by the House of Commons. Without speculating on the specifics of any revised proposals, it is clear that Theresa May will bring forward significant concessions on employment rights. Something that Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been pushing for.
However, in her letter the Prime Minister confirmed that the major sticking point on any revised proposals was a confirmatory poll following Parliamentary approval. This is a mistake.
Speaking to women and men across the business community – there is a sense of real fatigue. The stagnation of our politics since 2016 can only be broken with a second poll. This is a view once shared by Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage. On the eve of the 2016 vote Mr Farage said that in the event of a close result a new vote would be appropriate. If we are to move to truly move forward, as a country, people must be willing to compromise. He should be true to his earlier statements, and back a second vote.
There is understandable anger in the country that it is unacceptable three years after the referendum the country still has not left the EU. But those campaigners should not be fearful of the public being brought into the process. A confirmatory poll would settle this issue in a way that Westminster backroom deal making never can. We need more democracy, not less.
In the heart of remain London, Labour activists and politicians are feeling increasingly frustrated by the equivocal position of Labour high command on Brexit. Particularly when compared to the profane clarity of the Liberal Democrats. Labour’s challenge is that it must talk outside of its young vocal supporters in London. This position was set out clearly and eloquently by the Labour leader in Sunday’s interview on the Andrew Marr show. Though there has been some criticism from the most entrenched fringes of the Brexit debate, this was Jeremy Corbyn at his most statesmanlike and I believe his best interview since being elected leader.
However, politics is not just about strategy and grand vision; it is also about survival. Labour MPs in London and the South-East fearful of losing their seats would be brave to push a pro-Brexit position. This typifies Labour’s challenge in seeking to represent the whole country. North, south, east, west, prosperous and not. Labour’s policy of triangulating their Brexit position has left them open to attack. From the Liberal Democrats and the Greens accusing them of enabling Brexit; to the Brexit Party labelling Labour pro-remain.
In the Conservative party the feeding frenzy of a leadership contest is in full swing. A host of visions of Conservativism are now battling in the open. In what is likely to be his last throw the dice Boris Johnson is front runner for party members. It is clear that if Boris Johnson makes it to the ballot paper he will win. Johnson and other candidates are campaigning to try and maximise their support in the Parliamentary Conservative party to ensure that they make the final two. The challenge facing Conservative MPs is best summed up in this weekend’s Mail on Sunday and the Guardian.
And so, as I said on Sunday it is hard to see the way out. The country looks set on a trajectory which will either see us leaving the EU with without a deal, or with Parliament compromising and going back to the people for the final decision. To let the country move on and put behind it the last three wasted years any deal must be confirmed by the British people. Whatever your position no one should be scared of letting the British people bring the situation to a close one way or the other.