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The independent London newspaper

The people must have the final say on Brexit

01 February, 2018

• THE divisions inside the Tory party over Brexit are something to behold.

It is only their failure to find an alternative to Theresa May that keeps her in the post. At the same time it is striking how little impact this disunity has made on the public.

The latest polls show Labour and the Tories effectively level-pegging. Part of the reason for this is Labour’s inability to present a clear picture of just what it wants for our future relations with Europe.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn appears determined to rule out a second referendum. Others on the front bench, including his old ally, Diane Abbott has, in the past, come out in favour of giving the public a chance to express their views on the final deal. In taking this stand Corbyn is at odds with the membership.

A study published earlier this month found 87 per cent of Labour members want the UK to remain in the single market, 85 per cent in the customs union, and 78 per cent support a new Brexit referendum.

For years Corbyn supported the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy which demanded that members should drive policy. Yet when it comes to an issue over which members feel so passionately, he decides that they should be ignored.

“We’re not asking for a second referendum,” he told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show at the weekend. This is a great pity since there is mounting evidence that the British public wants a say in the final shape of the deal that is struck.

The largest poll since Brexit, conducted by The Guardian, found that voters support the idea of holding a second EU referendum by a 16-point margin. In reality this is too important a question to leave to parliament alone.

When we know the real shape of the Brexit deal (and not the lies we were peddled during last year’s campaign) the issue will have to be put to the public. Sir Keir Starmer did a great job in getting MPs a vote on the final deal, but they simply do not have the legitimacy to decide this on their own.

Only a vote of the British people can make that decision. This could be in a referendum or a general election. But the people must have the final say.

MARTIN PLAUT
Ryland Road, NW5

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