From Telegraph & Argus, January 23rd, 2019
DURING a parliamentary debate on David Cameron’s idea to renegotiate our membership with the EU in 2011, arch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “We could have two referendums. As it happens, it might make more sense to have the second referendum after the renegotiation is completed.” When challenged on this last month, Rees-Mogg argued that the context was different. But the principle is just the same. We had a referendum on whether to start the Brexit process and we are now in a negotiation over our future relationship with the EU.
I believe that there is a good case to give the people the final say as to whether they want no deal or the Prime Minister’s deal or indeed to remain in the European Union.
For me all three choices should be on the ballot paper so that all the main strands of opinion can be voiced.
It makes sense to have a further referendum so voters can compare some very concrete proposals. It is like a trade union leader going back to the members to check that they approve the results of a negotiated settlement to a dispute.
Back in 2016 all the details of the alternatives were simply not known.
Besides, many people who are entitled to vote now were not then. The number of young people (those who were under 18 on referendum day June 23 2016) who have been added on to the Electoral Register across the whole of the Bradford district is 17,157 . The number that live in the Keighley Constituency is 3,155.
Should these people not have a final say on a decision that will affect the rest of their lives?
Politics was not frozen in time on referendum day 2016 any more than it was when the first referendum on Europe occurred in 1975, when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister.
I think our democracy is strong and robust and quite capable of dealing with a further vote which would no doubt have another record turnout. Most activists waving union jacks and EU flags happily mix outside Parliament and long may it remain so.
For me the deal the Prime Minister is offering us is, in reality, a blind Brexit. It buys a few months of stability but effectively kicks all the difficult decisions about our relationship with Europe down the road. It will mean years ahead of wrangling which will not be good for business or jobs.
After we are out our negotiating position will be much weakened - all details of any new trade deal with the European Union would have to be agreed by all the European Union Governments.
It would be better to have firmer arrangements in place now in terms of our relationship with the Customs Union and the Single Market.
I voted against the Prime Minister’s deal but I shall also vote against No Deal. The British people voted to exit from the European Union but they did not vote for a particular method of achieving this.
I fear a no deal, which many Keighley manufacturing companies tell me would threaten exports and jobs.
It is quite an assumption to make that everybody who voted for Brexit voted for exiting without any deal, even if a significant number did.
We all live in the same world and I do not think trying to compete by cutting labour and environmental standards, as many Conservative MPs advocating a hard Brexit want to do, is a good idea.
Moreover, after the bomb in Derry over the weekend I also believe it would be completely irresponsible to further risk peace in Ireland with no deal. I do not want another generation of soldiers from Keighley to have to risk their lives on the streets of Belfast. I sit on the Northern Ireland Select Committee and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland has warned us that any sort of hard border would become a target for terrorism.
Given all this I do not believe Parliament would ever authorise walking out of the EU without a deal unless this had been explicitly endorsed in a further referendum.
So logically there is one other scenario I have to consider. If Parliament eventually rejects the option of a further referendum, and any alternative option such as doing a similar deal to Norway, it will then truly be down to the Prime Minister’s deal or no deal.
Only in those circumstances will I vote for the Prime Minister’s deal.
The Government would then have to pass a withdrawal bill through Parliament which would be open to amendments. I would support amendments which kept the United Kingdom close to the Customs Union and the Single Market to protect jobs in Yorkshire.