Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry write: The Independent Group and the Lib Dems working together is grown up politics

Today one of The Independent Group of MPs (TIG), Anna Soubry, will be speaking at a fringe event organised by IPPR North at the Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference.  Inevitably, the Westminster village will ask why and speculate as to what this means.  But outside of Westminster, the idea that people who share similar values and […]

Today one of The Independent Group of MPs (TIG), Anna Soubry, will be speaking at a fringe event organised by IPPR North at the Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference.  Inevitably, the Westminster village will ask why and speculate as to what this means.  But outside of Westminster, the idea that people who share similar values and have common views on things should work together is not news, its common sense.

There is no doubt that our politics is broken and needs fundamental change. We have a Government and an Official Opposition who are deeply divided, have failed to provide coherent leadership and to discharge their duties with the competence the British public are entitled to expect.  All public opinion research shows millions of politically homeless people are crying out for an alternative and something new – we left the main parties to create one.

A key facet of the culture of TIG is that we are non tribal – we share the same progressive values but we hail from different political traditions.  The fact people come from different political backgrounds should not preclude anyone working with others where there is agreement.  It is this belief that paved the way for the formation of our group and it is precisely why we had all worked with Liberal Democrat MPs long before our group formed on a number of issues, especially on Brexit, and will continue to do so.

In this sense, it should come as no surprise that at this time – when Brexit is the dominant issue facing our nation – our Brexit spokesperson should be speaking on a platform with Jo Swinson, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats. We were delighted to have the full support of all Lib Dem MPs for Sarah Wollaston’s cross party Peoples Vote amendment which was voted on in the House of Commons last night.

Brexit is, of course, not the only issue where there is common ground.  Recently Jo spoke in the Commons debate instigated by TIG’s Mike Gapes to highlight human rights abuses by the Venezulan regime against their own people.  Luciana Berger and Norman Lamb have been working together for many months on mental health issues.  Chuka Umunna set up and chaired the APPG on Proportional Representation in the last parliament and his Early Day Motion calling for PR was signed by Lib Dem MPs Alistair Carmichael and Tom Brake.  These are just a few examples.

Does this mean we are forming an electoral pact or alliance?  No – TIG is not yet a party – but it is grown up politics.  It is clear our politics is broken and, in building an alternative, it is incumbent on all of us to leave the tribalism behind and work to put in place a different kind of politics that does justice to our country.  We will work with anyone who shares our values in reaching this goal and Anna is looking forward to discussing this with Jo and Lib Dem activists today in York.

* Chuka Umunna is the spokesperson of The Independent Group of MPs (TIG) and Member of Parliament for Streatham. Anna Soubry is the Brexit lead for TIG and the Member of Parliament for Broxtowe.

Deal or no deal, here’s why Brexit cannot be stopped

The UK political commentariat are a lazy bunch. Brexit is one of their biggest topics in decades – a bonanza that any amateur can pitch in on – yet remarkably few have got to grips with the key texts. If they had, they would realise Brexit is at that stage of the chess game where […]

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The UK political commentariat are a lazy bunch. Brexit is one of their biggest topics in decades – a bonanza that any amateur can pitch in on – yet remarkably few have got to grips with the key texts. If they had, they would realise Brexit is at that stage of the chess game where the result is already a foregone conclusion. Brexit is going to happen.

Some more enlightened MPs saw this a while ago. Would Anna Soubry have resigned from the Conservative Party if she thought Remain or BRINO (Brexit In Name Only) were on the cards? Would Jeremy Corbyn offer a second referendum to his diehard Remainers if he thought there was any probability of Remain? You can hear the anguish of opportunists who placed their chips on defending BRINO from space as they realise they will end up on the wrong side of history.

So why should we be so certain that Brexit will triumph?

You would be right to be sceptical. We have a Remain Prime Minister, a Remain Civil Service, a Remain Cabinet, a Remain state broadcaster, a Remain undergrowth of NGOs, an increasingly bitter and unpleasant spectrum of Remain campaign organisations and, of course, a Remain Parliament. But no need to panic. They are all going to lose.

So here are the key facts and texts:

Article 50 & The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017

This legislation passed by Parliament by a massive majority authorised the Prime Minister to notify the EU under Article 50 (TEU) of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. The UK under EU law will leave the EU on 29th March 2019 at 11pm unless the UK requests – and gains EU approval for – an extension.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act (EWA)

The EWA, again passed by a large majority, is the domestic counterpart to the Article 50 notification. This Act sets 29th March as the exit day in UK domestic law. Exit day can only be changed by a Statutory Instrument that would have to go through the Commons and the Lords (s.20 EWA).

The EWA (s.13) also sets out the procedure for ratification of a Withdrawal Agreement:

  • It requires approval in the Commons;
  • It requires an Act of Parliament to implement it. The so-called Withdrawal and Implementation Act – the WAIB – would need to get through both the Commons and Lords.

The Cooper Amendment F passed on 27th February

This amendment – supposed to be a copy of the Prime Minister’s commitment to further votes – was added to a non-binding Commons motion that the Prime Minister has agreed to be bound by. It allows for a further ‘meaningful vote’ on a Withdrawal Agreement followed by (a logically flawed) vote to accept or rule out ‘no deal’ and lastly, if ‘no deal’ is ruled out, a vote to seek an extension to Article 50 to Remain in the EU.

These texts taken together make the life of a pro-Remain insurgency very difficult, even if that insurgency were headed by the Prime Minister.

Imagine yourself as a bitter Remainer…

Imagine you were tasked with trying to overturn Brexit. If that is too difficult, study the plans put forward by one of the authors of the Chequers Proposal/Withdrawal Agreement/Political Declaration, in a bar in Brussels – it’s much the same thing. You have some immediate and catastrophic problems. 

Requirements for a straight Remain without ever leaving

Ultimately, unless you are a highly committed enemy of democracy, you would require a second referendum to overturn the first. Assuming the voters can be instructed to behave a second time, you would also require an Article 50 extension to gain the time to conduct the poll. This would require the following basic requirements:

  1. Parliamentary time to push a Bill through the Commons and Lords to empower or force the Prime Minister to seek an extension of at least nine months. This could be done in the Commons maybe via a rebel amendment to the 12th March motion to take control of the Order Paper followed by speedy readings of the latest iteration of the Cooper/Boles Bill. Gaining Commons time would be difficult enough but the Lords would present a similar problem. Attempting this Bill would be even more difficult to attempt if the WA had already passed, so diehard Remainers would end up having to vote against the WA (see below).
  2. All EU states would have to agree the extension to a specific date for a specific purpose. This is unlikely to be straight forward or cheap.
  3. Parliament would have to vote to accept the specific date and change the ‘exit date’ in the EWA.
  4. Parliament would have to pass a Referendum Bill and hold the referendum before you have timed out.
  5. Negotiate with the EU to turn the ‘extension’ into a permanent say – no doubt involving Parliament endorsing new terms.

Requirements for BRINO – keeping the option of Remain open

The current Withdrawal Agreement would lead to a customs union and dynamic regulatory alignment, keeping UK laws in harmony with the EU. Some more far-sighted Remainers might think this vassal status would be a good springboard to re-join the EU. If we accept all the EU rule book, why not go that further step and have a say on how they are drafted – i.e. membership?

This plan requires the adoption of a Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration (WA&PD) deal built on a permanent backstop that leads with all certainty to a customs union. This agreement is the one that Parliament rejected.

In order to push through the WA&PD, the Government has a problem. The issue that MPs have taken up most vocally – the lack of an exit from the backstop – is the part the Government most requires to deliver BRINO. So how do they get their deal through Parliament? This is set out, following the Government’s acceptance of the Cooper Amendment F:

  1. Request a change in the WA from the EU27 to give what appears to be (but isn’t) a legally-binding exit from the backstop.
  2. By 12th March hold a new vote to approve the WA&PD and overturn the previous defeat by a majority of 230.

In order to pressurise MPs into voting for the WA&PD the Government will seek to deploy the threat inherent in the second two parts of the Cooper Amendment F: if the WA is voted down, the Government (if it decided to acquiesce in Remain and follow the motion) would then table a motion to endorse leaving without a deal which, if defeated, would require a further motion on 14th March to instruct the Prime Minister to seek an extension. 

Is threatening an Article 50 extension a credible threat?

It is of course gratifying that even Remainers acknowledge that remaining in the EU is a threat to be wielded. But it’s not a credible threat. If MPs are minded to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement they are not voting to stay in the EU. So, what would happen?

If the Commons defeats the Withdrawal Agreement again before 12th March, they may be presented with a vote on ‘no deal’. If for the sake of argument the Commons votes against ‘no deal’ and then votes on 14th March to request the Prime Minister to request an extension of Article 50, they are too late – there would be only 17 days left. In that time they would need: 

  1. The Prime Minister to seek approval of the EU27 to a ‘short, limited extension’ for an unknown period for an unknown purpose. That would not be favourably received by the EU27. There would also be a threat of legal action if the request were not endorsed by a full Act of Parliament.
  2. Assuming an extension could be agreed, the Government would also need to move a Statutory Instrument in both the Commons and Lords to change the exit date in the EWA to the one agreed with the EU27 – but that would only buy a short extension before all the same issues re-emerge. Nothing would really have changed. If you do not want the Withdrawal Agreement, a small probability of a short delay is not a credible threat.

In any event, if the WA does get through there remains the need for the Government to push the complex WAIB through the Lords and Commons pre-29th March or be timed out.

So far, so technical. But this is a discussion in isolation to the world outside of Westminster. These decisions have electoral consequences for political parties.

Firstly, the cause of Remain requires the Prime Minister to actively promote it or at least acquiesce in the face of Remain MPs and Ministers. If the Prime Minister wants to leave, we leave.

There is no need for her to champion Remain, accept motions or give parliamentary time to Remainers – that is a political choice. It’s a choice that will have dramatic political consequences for the Conservative Party if the UK is still in the EU (or has BRINO) after 29th March. In that circumstance, the DUP might depart, if they had not already and the Government would either fall or require a new Prime Minister who had not supported the WA. That is not something a Conservative Prime Minister would want a as legacy – the balance of threat is very much in favour of Leave.

Secondly, the reputation of Parliament generally would take a hit. The EU issue would become further polarised to an extent that even committed Remainers (and EU partners) would realise that the UK’s continued membership would be politically unstable and counterproductive.

This brings us to the obvious conclusion that Brexit cannot be stopped.

If the EU does agree a replacement to the backstop (a scenario made less likely now the PM has floated an extension) then the WA may yet get through the Commons, and shorn of its permanence, a new PM could then build a genuine free trade Brexit deal.

If the Government brings back the same deal without an exit to the backstop, it will be defeated. If it is defeated, there will be no second referendum or prolonged stay in the EU. The UK will leave.

In short, don’t panic: if MPs hold their nerve, we are leaving the EU on 29th March without a permanent backstop.

Deal or No Deal 2

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++Three MPs quit the Conservative party to join the Independent Group (plus one more Labour MP)

Embed from Getty Images The Independent Group now has twelve MPs in it, the eight original resignees from the Labour party, Joan Ryan who left Labour last night and three Tory MPs who resigned from their party today. The Guardian reports: Three Conservative MPs – Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen – have quit […]

Embed from Getty Images

The Independent Group now has twelve MPs in it, the eight original resignees from the Labour party, Joan Ryan who left Labour last night and three Tory MPs who resigned from their party today. The Guardian reports:

Three Conservative MPs – Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen – have quit the party to join the Independent Group founded by former Labour MPs.

In a devastating critique of Theresa May’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, the three MPs said the Tories had lurched to the right, adopting Ukip policies and pursuing a hard Brexit.

Their move reduces May’s already tenuous working majority to eight, raising still more questions over her authority amid rumours that there could be further Tory defections to come.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

Theresa May is secretly seeking an EU customs union – my general theory of Brexit

Many areas of life are so complex that trying to come up with an overall account of the many and varied forces at work is almost impossible. Both writers and academics tend therefore to take the sensible decision of only analysing niches and particular aspects of the whole. But occasionally someone steps forward and tries to […]

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Many areas of life are so complex that trying to come up with an overall account of the many and varied forces at work is almost impossible. Both writers and academics tend therefore to take the sensible decision of only analysing niches and particular aspects of the whole.

But occasionally someone steps forward and tries to illuminate the whole thing. One thinks, in economics, of John Maynard Keynes and his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Naturally, the general theory did not quite live up to its billing, but it still succeeded in highlighting the impact of hitherto unappreciated factors such as a deficiency of demand and the “animal spirits” of potential investors.

In physics, work continues on a so-called “theory of everything” that I cannot pretend to get my head around other than to say it is clearly ambitious.

So, at the risk of falling flat on my face and having my every contention disproved in the coming weeks, I feel the time has come to offer a general (political) theory of Brexit.

I think I have finally figured out what is going on sufficiently to at least have such a theory. Though, as you will see, that theory does not lead to a definitive conclusion about what will happen. Anyhow, let me set out its main constituent parts.

Point One: Theresa May wishes to reach a final endpoint of Brexit – a new equilibrium if you like – that involves a customs union with the EU. Her ministers such as Greg Clark and Philip Hammond have in fact given big corporate employers private assurances that this is what the Government is advancing towards.

But she cannot be open about this because a customs union is a particularly red rag to at least 80 of her MPs and any whiff of Brexit dilution or betrayal causes general outrage among most Tory voters.

So she has decided to take baby steps and take them slowly too. A huge deception of the British public is in fact in progress. Thus May was happy to agree not only the indefinite backstop but also the EU’s preferred sequencing of topics for agreement, with the Northern Ireland border and the financial settlement sorted out before any commitments on trade.

She did this because she wants to lock negotiations onto a path that inevitably leads to a customs union with the EU – despite this being the opposite to her stated policy – however unhappy this makes Brexit purists.

So she absolutely does not want a sunset clause date in the backstop or a unilateral exit mechanism and despite the Brady Amendment passing, has not even asked for either of these things to be inserted into the Withdrawal Agreement. Either of them would allow the Moggites in her party to argue for leaving the backstop to pursue a genuinely independent trade policy if or when future relationship talks get rough.

However, a codicil to the Withdrawal Agreement carrying legal weight and stating the backstop is not intended to be permanent does work for her because it allows for a formal customs union to be mutually agreed later as the way out and that is something that both May and the EU prefer to the backstop in any case.

As EU deputy chief negotiator Sabine Weyand put it: “We should be in the best negotiation position for the future relationship, this requires the customs union as the basis for the future relationship”. As Olly Robbins, the UK chief negotiator, put it in corroboration in comments overheard by the journalist Angus Walker, the backstop was always intended to be a bridge to the final arrangement, not a safety net for the Irish border.

So the policy that May is pursuing, albeit not openly declared, is in fact remarkably close to the one that Labour formally advocates – a permanent customs union that somehow has a bit of give in it letting the UK pursue other trade agreements around the world.

Point Two: There is in fact a large natural majority in the Commons for May’s policy and intended end state. But it has not coalesced into a real thing for two reasons. First, she is unwilling and unable to explicitly set it out because of her own secretive nature and for fear of causing uproar in the Tory grassroots and among pro-Brexit Tory MPs and ministers. Secondly, about half of the natural supporters of this deal are Labour MPs. As such they have been whipped against it by their party leadership.

Given May’s secretive nature and her Tory status, she would indeed be asking a lot to expect “soft Brexit” Labour MPs to back her deal without her openly setting out how it ends with a customs union. As we have seen, she has not surmounted these hurdles yet.

Point Three: Jeremy Corbyn and his inner circle are Brexiteers all day long. They do indeed consider the EU a corporate club that would prevent them from imposing “socialism in one country”. But they are aware that 95 per cent of Labour MPs, about 90 per cent of Labour members and maybe 75 per cent of current Labour-leaning voters are Remainers, many passionately so.

There are a variety of outcomes that Corbyn and his team would be content with. One would be a chaotic no-deal exit if they could be sure that the Conservatives would get the blame and be split by it. Such an outcome might increase the chance of a future Corbyn-led government entirely unencumbered by EU rules on state aid and all the rest. But it carries a big risk of May successfully wrapping herself in the flag, unleashing a wave of patriotic support and actually rising in the polls; a non-violent “Falklands factor”, if you like.

Another good outcome for Corbyn is Theresa May postponing Brexit in clear breach of her promised 29th March leaving date. This would be bound to gain massive traction with the electorate at large, being not about some arcane jargon regarding customs unions or single markets, but being a date in everyone’s diary. It splits the Tory Party and puts Corbyn in the driving seat for the next election, whatever the Tories eventually salvage from the ruins of their reputation. I think this is in fact the best outcome for Corbyn and the one he is working towards.

A third goodish outcome for Corbyn would be May’s deal going through with Labour votes in time for Brexit to take place this spring. This splits the Tory Party and disillusions its supporters and leads inexorably to the kind of “soft” Brexit that Corbyn has promised Labour supporters he will fight for. But it does not hurt the Tories nearly as much as if May has been forced to delay Brexit first and Corbyn will in any case be loath to explicitly endorse May’s deal.

Point Four: Labour MPs who opposed Brexit in the referendum are now deeply split into two tribes. The first recognises Brexit must formally happen but just wish it to be “soft”, i.e. embracing a customs union. The second shares Tony Blair’s messianic zeal that Brexit can and must be stopped altogether via the so-called “People’s Vote”. These MPs, probably numbering 150 or so if you count in SNP, Lib Dems, hardcore Tory Remainers etc, need Brexit delayed significantly in order to have any chance of success.

Oddly, this means that in the very short-term, their interests on this coincide with Corbyn’s: defeat May’s Withdrawal Agreement all the way to 29th March and make her postpone Brexit.

Point Five: But this is a huge call. Nobody knows for certain that Mrs May will be able or willing to call off Brexit just a week or two before it is due to take place. This would be a political calamity for her with her political tribe. It would almost certainly lead to a massacre of Conservatives in the big round of local elections on 2nd May. It would be an ignominious decision to take. So there is a chance that, backed into a corner, May would indeed wrap herself in the flag and go “No Deal”.

Point Six: This is where an intriguing and for me very worrying possibility arises. That mainstream Labour MPs who would be content with a “soft” (customs union) version of Brexit but appalled by No Deal decide at the eleventh hour to swing behind May’s deal en masse, reckoning that it will eventually take the country to their desired end state. Most such MPs detest the Corbyn Labour regime, so would regard it as an added bonus that them doing this might make Corbyn appear to have lost his grip on their party. Given that May’s deal passing under such circumstances also splits the Tories long-term as the future partnership talks wend their way towards a formal customs union, it would seem a winner all round for them.

However, it would need at least 100 Labour MPs to back May’s deal to get it through and unless the People’s Vote brigade acknowledge that the game is up and go down this route instead, those numbers look very ambitious.

So, what will happen? My advice is not to focus on the obvious cross-party political dalliance between the pro-EU People’s Vote zealots like Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry, but any similar dalliance emerging between the more pragmatic likes of Nicky Morgan and Lisa Nandy. Henceforth the number of Labour MPs backing May’s deal has been very small. But a lot could come over at once as the pressure escalates. And escalate it will. May is keeping a poker face – about the one key political skill she can claim genuinely to have mastered. She is indeed running down the clock. This is going to mid-March at least.

And this is where my general theory of Brexit proves to have its limitations. Because we are dealing with a situation in which multiple groups have multiple interests and imperfect information about each other or the likely political impacts of each possible path.

Would “no deal” help the Tories politically (as I believe) or be a disaster for them (as Oliver Letwin believes)? Will May be able to give sufficient informal assurances to Labour MPs that she is going to deliver a customs union in the end? Might May’s stubborn streak mean that in her mind her 29th March deadline is an actual red line which cannot be rubbed away?

So all I can give you is my view of the probabilities, give these underlying and inter-playing currents.

My odds: 40% that Labour MPs will break in big enough numbers for May’s deal in the next three weeks or so to get it through.

Another 40% that not enough will come across and that May will indeed ask for and be granted an Article 50 extension either of her own volition or because some version of Yvette Cooper’s amendment has been passed that arguably compels her to do so.

And alas just 20% that, having been backed into a corner, May has the guts to stick to her word on 29th March and on no deal being better than a bad deal and delivers a WTO Brexit that genuinely fulfils the instruction given to the political class by the British people on 23rd June 2016.

Yet unless this final path does transpire, we will soon be in need of a General Theory of Brexit Betrayal. I will do my best to oblige.

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People’s Vote campaigners know they’re championing a lost cause

With just over forty days until the UK is due to leave the EU, the likes of Lord Adonis, Dominic Grieve, David Lammy, Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry, to name but a few, continue to pound the “People’s Vote” drum. The Prime Minister’s Brexit negotiating strategy may have been branded as reckless, but second referendum […]

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With just over forty days until the UK is due to leave the EU, the likes of Lord Adonis, Dominic Grieve, David Lammy, Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry, to name but a few, continue to pound the “People’s Vote” drum.

The Prime Minister’s Brexit negotiating strategy may have been branded as reckless, but second referendum supporters are surely being equally as reckless by continuing not to press their case so close to Brexit day. If they’re so confident of securing a People’s Vote, then they should put the amendment forward.

Although they may not admit it when pressed on Sky News or the BBC, those proposing a People’s Vote are not oblivious to the risks attached. The likes of Umunna, Soubry et al. know that the idea that the elite failed to implement the verdict of 2016 would play into the hands of populist leavers. If they thought ‘Take Back Control’ was fatal in 2016, then ‘Tell Them Again’ would be seismic.

And politicians can barely expect to look at the turnout statistics as a means of trying to reduce the legitimacy of the vote in 2016: the Brexit referendum produced a turnout not seen in a national election contest since 1992.

It may not be apparent to those in the claustrophobic Westminster bubble, but folk up and down the country are sick to their back teeth of hearing about Brexit. To many voters, it feels as if politicians have gone around in circles for the past two-and-a-half years. The electorate wants to change the conversation towards topical issues such as poverty, the NHS and education.

Since September 2014, there has been a Scottish independence referendum, devolved legislature elections, local council elections, two general elections and, of course, the EU referendum. What would be the result of forcing another referendum on an already weary electorate? There would be no guarantee that the turnout would be the same or greater than in 2016. Unlike our Australian counterparts, the UK does not use compulsory voting, so people are perfectly entitled to stay away from the polling booth if they choose to do so. What would happen if the turnout were less than fifty per cent and a Remain victory?  

Currently, the parliamentary arithmetic opposes the idea of a “People’s Vote”. Jeremy Corbyn, especially, appears extremely sceptical about the idea. Labour members seem to have failed to appreciate he is a lifelong eurosceptic – voting against EEC membership in 1975, siding with Tory rebels in the Maastricht debates and voting against Lisbon. Corbyn was in Ireland during the second Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign in 2009 and infamously described the Brussels project as a military Frankenstein.

Labour Party Conference kept the idea of a public vote on the table, as a last resort; however, this is a mere smokescreen. Unbeknownst to pro-EU party members, the idea of a public vote is still on the table, but the motion has been ripped up. Furthermore, in order to win an election, Corbyn knows he would have to gain marginal Tory seats which also voted Leave.

Amendments to government motions can be put forward by backbench MPs but the reality is that they are not legally binding. Convention suggests that if an amendment secures a majority, then it puts pressure on the Government to act; however, we live in such unprecedented times that nothing can be taken for granted. This was seen with regard to the series of amendments put forward on 29th January. MPs voted 318-310, a majority of eight, to reject the UK leaving without a deal; however, this amendment was meaningless since it does not change the default position should the UK and EU fail to reach an agreement. Furthermore, MPs rejected an extension of Article 50 (the Cooper Amendment) beyond the end of March. So, to quote Mrs. May: nothing has changed.

It is only the Government which can propose legislation and the Prime Minister opposes a second referendum. She has explained that a second referendum would undermine ‘social cohesion’. And a shift to a second referendum does not appear to be materialising as Brexit Secretary, Steve Barclay has reconfirmed that the UK will be leaving on 29th March, with or without an agreement.

In essence, People’s Vote campaigners know they are championing a lost cause. Despite continuing to defend the idea, they are extremely aware of the risks and know that a second vote might not even provide a different result to the vote in 2016.

Most importantly, as long as the Government continues to sit on its hands and stubbornly resist the idea of a public vote, then the dream of overturning the result of 2016 is up in flames.

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