In the generally dismal year of 2018, probably one of the most cheering spectacles has been the transformation of the People’s Vote movement from the campaign that may plausibly be presented because the liberal elite demanding its job right back, to a grassroots insurgency driven by young people that rallied 700, 000 people on to the streets of London in October.
Its true faces aren’t political figures from days gone by, but tribunes of the future like Femi Oluwole, Lara Spirit and Will Dry. To quote that astute political observer Mr Zimmerman: “Your old road is/ Rapidly agin’ / Please get out of the newest one / If you can’t lend your hand. ”
It would be a significant exaggeration to express that Westminster has embraced this generational moment – but it is undeniable that the notion of a new referendum has moved, before 12 months, from the periphery of political discourse to the point where it is being seriously discussed in No 10. In response to a Sunday Times report he was get yourself ready for such a vote, Gavin Barwell, the prime minister’s chief of staff, tweeted today that he didn’t “want” and was not “planning” a second referendum – not exactly an absolute denial, I would suggest.
David Lidington, Theresa May’s de facto deputy, is also considered in talks with Labour MPs on the best way to break the impasse. That he and his fellow cabinet members Amber Rudd, Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Greg Clark, are truly open to the thought of second referendum. I am cautious when these groupings are instantly characterised as a disciplined caucus – in cases like this the “gang of five” – considering that the alignments in this extraordinary constitutional crisis are constantly changing, perhaps not least as individual cabinet ministers consider their leadership prospects: one might call it agenda fluidity.
The idea, however , is that senior Tories are now actually discussing the choice of a people’s vote. Their change of heart is not driven by principle or enthusiasm – do not require wants to have the root-canal treatment of 2016 again – but practicality and empiricism.
As ignominious for Might as Wednesday’s confidence vote undoubtedly was, her treatment in Brussels on Thursday was much worse. Having assured her cabinet colleagues on the device that she’d bring home the legal assurances to make her 585-deal acceptable to the Commons, she came back with nothing to supply except a debate in regards to the correct utilization of the word “nebulous”.
Her agreement with Brussels is fit only for the political mortuary, and everyone understands this. Perhaps the “meaningful vote” in the Commons is held this week or on January 21 (the deadline), it’s not coming back alive. None of the alternatives – “Norway-plus”, “Canada-plus-plus”, or variants thereupon – command a parliamentary majority. Therefore the cabinet and MPs must now consider how they feel about an additional referendum and a no-deal exit.
I say “and” rather than “or” because the options are certainly not mutually exclusive. Those cabinet ministers who’ve come round to a “managed no deal” – an oxymoron if ever there clearly was one – know perfectly well that they need to do a whole lot more than go out the clock and march forth to glory on 29 March.
For them, the worst outcome is just a binary referendum in which the voters are offered a selection between May’s deal and remain. Such circumstances, remain would win by a mile. The Brexiteers would argue – for once, with some justice – they had been shoddily treated. Thus, those ministers who believe no deal would be merely bumpy in place of completely catastrophic need urgently to persuade the public it is eminently deliverable, true to the spirit of the 2016 referendum result, and (crucially) much better than the status quo of EU membership.
In a Sunday Telegraph interview, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, confirming that he would indeed just like a “crack” at the Tory leadership, also asserted “we’ll find a way to flourish and prosper [in a no-deal situation]. We’ve faced much bigger challenges in our history. ” Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, can be expected to explain this week how this exit will be viable.
Meanwhile, Liz Truss, the able chief secretary to the Treasury, is busily allocating a £2bn pot to manage the challenges of a no-deal exit. That strikes me as a conservative figure, given what we already know concerning the implications of crashing out from the EU for healthcare, trade, haulage and transport.
This indicates to me that there would have been a refreshing honesty in a referendum that offered voters a straightforward choice between remain and a no-deal exit. Nobody, on either side, could subsequently complain that the public hadn’t known what it was choosing between.
Nevertheless I debate that this clarity of preference will be effectively achieved.
Characteristics senior Tories and Work figures would you only capitulate deal versus no undertaking, on the grounds that for the second referendum is able to clarify in the place of reverse the several 2016 at a distance. Others like a three-option ballot newspapers (deal, not an deal, remain) with an “alternative vote” device to determine the best option.
The required Brexit night out is a bit more than 90 days clearly. Yet within a week we are whisked provided by “will Will be able to go ahead by the meaningful have your vote? ” that “what should really appear on your current ballot tissues in a another referendum? ”
So happily your prayers festive sound of hope that that we probably yet go away this turmoil, disarray, disorder, chaos. But a whisper. Also you can highly irresponsible to claim that anyone is to identify a safe from ~ whatever is simply claimed about contrary ~ the dreadful risk of the latest no-deal slip into the split. Because is not is.
• Matthew D’Ancona is a Parent columnist.