A couple of weeks ago I published an article about the deception surrounding a prospective ‘no deal‘ Brexit outcome, and how political figureheads and campaigners who support a second referendum are also advocating for a ‘hard‘ Brexit option on a future ballot paper.
Whilst nothing has changed on this front, what has developed is the gradual process of elimination in regards to alternatives to a second vote. This week in parliament MP’s tabled seven amendments in the wake of Prime Minister Theresa May’s meaningful vote defeat a fortnight ago. Five of these were voted down, including one by Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Conservative Nick Boles which called for Article 50 to be extended for up to nine months and for the prevention of a no deal exit. A separate amendment put forward by Labour’s Rachel Reeves that championed an extension to Article 50 in the event of no agreement on a deal was also rejected.
Two amendments gained majority support. The first was from Conservative MP Graham Brady’s, who called for the Irish backstop to be eliminated from the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, and for ‘alternative arrangements‘ to be made instead. The second was tabled by Conservative Caroline Spelman, which stated that the UK should not leave the EU without a deal.
Let’s quickly address each one in turn and weigh up how both may ultimately benefit the likelihood of a second referendum.
Prior to and immediately after Graham Brady’s amendment was approved, the EU rejected all possibility of the withdrawal agreement that was finalised last year being reopened. Assuming their stance remains intransigent, the next two weeks will yield no progress on dropping the Irish backstop from the official text. This would mean Theresa May returning to parliament around Valentine’s Day to inform MP’s that no ‘alternative arrangements‘ have been agreed. In short, it is most likely a dead end.
Caroline Spelman’s amendment is more interesting. Whilst MP’s voted in favour of the UK remaining in the EU should no agreement be ratified, this was not binding on the government – meaning it was purely an advisory measure and carries no legislative force.
However, as pointed out by The Spectator:
The defeat demonstrates the possibility that, as the end of March approaches, parliamentary opposition to no deal could prove enough to prevent Britain crashing out of the EU.
What this suggests is that in the end MP’s will require a specific vehicle – one that can gain majority support – to prevent parliament sanctioning a no deal. It will not simply be enough for politicians to disavow the option.
At this stage readers should be aware that last week a proposed amendment that would have called for a second referendum on Brexit was withdrawn before a vote could take place. The reasoning given was that MP’s campaigning for another vote did not yet have sufficient cross party support to legislate for it. This, along with defeated amendments calling for Article 50 to be extended, were pounced upon by ‘leavers‘ as the death knell for any chances that a ‘People’s Vote‘ could be held. In my view this is premature.
Caroline Spelman’s amendment, whilst not binding, was the first indication from parliament that a majority does not support a no deal Brexit. Running counter to that is Brady’s amendment, which has created the false impression that a non-negotiate withdrawal agreement is in fact negotiable within a two week window. I believe what we are seeing now is the final vestiges of hope that the EU will back down and renege on an Irish back stop. When the realisation hits that they will not, a further avenue towards a deal will have been closed.
Had the amendment calling for a second referendum been carried, it would have been defeated. Right now, it remains the one alternative option that has yet to be explored in parliament. That moment will come. It is just a question of timing and under what circumstances it is brought to the commons.
As yet, a ‘people’s vote‘ is not the official policy of the opposition Labour party. I suspect that if this stance shifts in the next couple of weeks, the route towards a second referendum will open up. As all alternatives are gradually whittled away, it will soon come down to a straight choice. Back a second vote or allow the UK to leave the EU with no deal. A majority already supports not leaving without a deal.
This choice, however, is a false dichotomy. Should parliament end up legislating for another vote, it will be under the pretext that this is now the only option left to avoid a ‘cliff edge‘ no deal. Except, this is not true. If Theresa May’s deal is not put to the British public, the only alternative would be for leaving the EU on World Trade Organisation terms. In other words, the same no deal scenario that a majority of MP’s reject.
Even if May’s deal made it onto a ballot, it’s emphatic rejection in the House of Commons means that almost certainly a no deal option would also be included. Remember that proponents for a second referendum have gone on the record as supporting a hard Brexit choice.
Anti Brexit groups, such as Best for Britain and Our Future Our Choice, either fail to understand the psychology behind a ‘People’s Vote‘ or are deliberately deceiving people. Every day they promote how the only way to avoid no deal is to give the electorate the final say. Their fixation on securing a remain option on the ballot masks what a second vote has the ability to facilitate, which in essence is the ‘hard‘ Brexit they are opposed to.
And, crucially, how many are giving consideration into the role of central banks in the Brexit process? At Davos last week, the IMF took the opportunity to again warn about the dangers of a no deal exit. My feeling is that the next level of warnings against no deal will come in the midst of a referendum campaign. What was dismissed as ‘Project Fear‘ in 2016 would likely be dismissed again.
This is a sentiment I could support, were it not for the fact that given the prominent role of sterling throughout this process, the Bank of England and fellow globalist institutions would ultimately have full economic control of the fallout from the UK leaving the EU with no agreement.
Globalists are openly agitating to transform the global financial system, and history dictates that transformations on this scale require significant bouts of crisis to achieve what are predetermined goals. From their perspective, Brexit is a crisis that will not go to waste.