Wefan Gymraeg

Time to Seize this Opportunity to Stop Brexit

Writing ahead of today's Brexit vote, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has urged MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Deal and support a People’s Vote.

Two and a half long years after the Brexit referendum, we are finally at the moment of reckoning. A month after it was originally intended, Parliament will vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Brexit has become a national embarrassment, but this is our best chance to stop it. We’re proud to have led the campaign for a People’s Vote for over two years, a campaign that has widespread support across the political spectrum and across the four countries of our United Kingdom.

That is far more than can be said for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, a deal that looks as unlikely to pass the House of Commons as it did a month ago. Unsurprisingly Theresa May has failed to get any concessions from the EU, given the EU specifically said the deal could not be renegotiated.

There is no evidence Theresa May has gained significantly more support for her deal in Parliament in the last month, when the Government expected to lose by over 100 votes. This is a deal that deserves to be defeated. It would damage our economy, lower our living standards and restrict our freedoms. It is no surprise it’s failing to find support in Parliament. Liberal Democrat MPs will be proud to vote against Theresa May’s deal and urge every MP to do the same.

If as expected the Government is defeated, we’ll need to decide what path we follow next. There are only two viable options: a no deal Brexit, or no Brexit at all. Jeremy Corbyn is foolish to claim he could renegotiate a Brexit deal with the EU that included a customs union and access to the Single Market. The EU have been clear that there is no renegotiating the Brexit deal and it’s fanciful to think we could enjoy the benefits of the single market and customs union without abiding by their rules and paying our fair share.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party need to understand that their Brexit strategy is unworkable. There is no time for a general election before Brexit and a general election solves nothing whilst Labour still support Brexit. However, If Labour really believe that a general election is the best course of action, they should stop wasting time and immediately submit a motion of no confidence in the Government.

Whilst renegotiating the deal isn’t possible, a no deal Brexit would be disastrous. Parliament, the people and the experts are all opposed to a no deal Brexit and with good reason. A no deal Brexit would reduce the UK’s economy by up to 9.5% whilst threatening our ability to import food, medicines and the radioactive materials needed for cancer treatments.

A no deal Brexit would decimate our ability to trade with the EU and all the countries the EU has trade deals with. The ex-head of the WTO Pascal Lamy has made it clear trading on WTO terms alone is far inferior to EU membership. The idea we would be fine leaving with no deal and reverting to WTO terms is a total fantasy. Trade, migration, security co-operation and many more areas would immediately be thrown into total chaos. A no deal Brexit is not a feasible option and it must be avoided.

The only viable solution to this Brexit chaos is a People’s Vote. Polls now consistently show the people far prefer a People’s Vote to Theresa May’s deal or a no deal Brexit and that the people would vote to remain in the EU in such a referendum.

We’ve consistently said there can be no future relationship with the EU that would be better than our current relationship as full members of the EU. We’re being proved more and more right every passing week. Any type of Brexit would damage our economy and limit our freedoms. Whilst it will be the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society who will suffer most from Brexit.

Democracy is a process, not an event and a democracy that cannot change its mind is no democracy at all. In 2016 no-one could claim with any certainty or authority what Brexit meant. Now there is a specific deal on the table and we know what Brexit really means it is right we ask the voters if they still want Brexit.

Some have claimed that a People’s Vote would be undemocratic and an insult to all those who voted leave in 2017. But we must remember that the people who would be voting in a People’s Vote would be the very same people who voted in 2016. If the 17.4 million people who voted leave in 2016 wish to vote to leave again, they’d be free to do so. But if any of them now wish to vote to remain in the EU, they can. You cannot disenfranchise people by giving them a vote.

The real reason Brexiteers oppose a People’s Vote is because they’re worried they’ll lose. There is nothing democratic about forcing an electorate that doesn’t want Brexit to leave the EU because of a vote two and a half years ago. If the people now want to remain in the EU they should have the choice to do so.

We’ve spent the past two years fighting for the people to have the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit. We urge Jeremy Corbyn to put Labour’s full weight behind our campaign and Theresa May to enact a People’s Vote when her deal is defeated in the Commons.

The time for being cautious is over, in this moment of national importance politicians must be bold. The people must be given the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit.

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