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Sunday 28 January 2018

MPs – stop hiding behind the parapet!

There are several good reasons why those who want the UK to remain within the EU should be cautious about calling for a second referendum. These include:

1. the referendum was legally a consultation, calling for a second toss of the coin suggests that it over-rode the duty of elected members to decide, which is dangerous both for democracy and for our future relationship with the EU; 2. it resulted in a 50% increase in hate crimes in the following two months, involving some 7,000 more attacks than would otherwise have been expected – including murder, grievous bodily harm and a wide range of forms of extreme humiliation, largely directed towards ethnic minority and immigrant women. A further referendum would certainly endanger very vulnerable people in the same way; 3. it undermines the call to reject Brexit and muddies the waters. Recent polls suggest that campaigning for a repeat referendum has led to an increase in those wanting a re-run but very little change in how they say they would vote; 4. It would, once again, give disproportionate influence to those who control our media: mainly xenophobic, anti-egalitarian, non-dom billionaires; 5. it sets a dangerous precedent for decision taking on other complicated and controversial issues – as illustrated by the fact that in recent decades referenda have been use successfully to block electoral reform and the creation of a regional tier of government; 6. If a second referendum were called and it went the wrong way (a real risk unless Corbyn and May drastically change direction) it would kill the pro-EU cause dead for many years – which is exactly why Farrage wants one.

Like Labour’s policy of deliberate obfuscation, the call for a 2nd referendum is the Lib Dem leadership’s tactic for trying to soften opposition to their candidates in consituencies where former UKIP sympathiser’s votes are up for grabs. As an electoral strategy, this has been a total disaster. Astonishingly, against all reasonable expectations, Lib Dem support has continued to flounder at about 6% since the last election (despite the manifest weaknesses of the two main parties). It’s left them looking woolly and confused and deprived English and Welsh voters of a clear lead from Westminster. The greatest asset for Remain is that voters have elected a large majority of MPs (and an even larger majority exists in the Lords) who believe leaving the EU will seriously damage the country.

Instead of letting MPs continue to hide behind the parapet, we should demand that they put the country’s interests ahead of electoral manoeuvring and fear of the whips. If the Government fails to get a deal and ends up calling a second referendum to get itself off the hook, so be it, let battle commence! Until then our message should be clear and simple: BREXIT MEANS A POORER WEAKER BRITAIN – STOP BREXIT!