When Liberal Democrats first suggested that the people of Britain should have the final say on the proposed Brexit deal, once this deal is known, they were derided as fantasists who could not accept the result of a democratic referendum. But the tide is turning.
Here are four reasons why a ‘final Brexit deal’ referendum is not anti-democratic.
A vote based on lies is not democratic.
More and more evidence shows that the 2016 referendum campaign was deeply flawed. Factual claims by the Leave campaign were speculative at best, blatantly untrue at worst. Voters were deliberately misinformed, and a highly complex issue was simplified and turned into an emotional appeal to patriotism. The Remain campaign was guilty of scare mongering and failed to point out the positive impact of EU membership, such as investments in UK university research and innovation, protection of workers’ rights and environmental standards.
People have a right to change their mind.
Only after the Referendum, when negotiations about hundreds of affected issues got underway, did the whole scale of Brexit effects become apparent. When people realised what Brexit actually means for grocery prices, affordability of foreign holidays, or the queues for freight and people at borders, many Leave voters changed their minds. They did not make a mistake, they were misinformed and should have the right to reconsider.
What kind of Brexit?
This is not the kind of Brexit most Leave voters envisaged. A ‘hard Brexit’, without access to the EU Single Market, without customs union, at the mercy of American, Russian and Chinese trading partners who have expressed little interest in Britain. The Tory government may have a mandate to take Britain out of the EU, but they do not have a mandate to turn Britain into an isolated island outside any customs union.
Those most affected had no say.
In the 2016 referendum, one generation voted on the future of the next generation and their children. It cannot be fair that pensioners, who may have less to lose from Brexit, determine the future of so many young people who overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU – to be able to study abroad, travel freely and enjoy living in an international, open society. This is why Liberal Democrats demand that 16 and 17 year olds should have the vote in another EU Referendum.
The tide is turning. We see a grassroots pro-European movement not just in London but all across Britain. And in Westminster, more and more Labour and Tory MPs join Liberal Democrats in demanding another referendum on the final Brexit deal. Hammersmith and Fulham council, under Labour leadership, flies the EU flag on its Town Hall and was the first council in Britain to pass a motion in favour of another referendum. They did so against the explicit decree of their own national party and their own leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Now, moderate Labour councils are threatened by their own pro-Bexit party hardliners, and left-wing Momentum. Liberal Democrats are the only party which has consistently, unequivocally opposed Brexit. A strong presence in Councils across London will enable Liberal Democrats to support moderate Labour councillors, oppose local Brexiteers and send a clear message the Tory government in Westminster. With cross-party support in local government and in Parliament, there is a good chance a majority of pro-European MPs will vote in favour of a second referendum, and give people – including young people – a chance to Exit from Brexit.