Hope springs eternal and all that but the very weekend before we leap free from the clammy embrace of Brussels is a little late to be insisting we’ve got to put it to the people, isn’t it? And yet that’s what the Remoaners are planning, a big march through London to argue for turn and think again. Sure, absolutely their right to argue for whatever it is their dear little hearts desire but it’s not exactly a sensible expenditure of energy, is it? We’re going to be out by the time they’ve cleared up the blue facepaint from the march itself:
Campaigners seeking a second referendum on Brexit have announced plans to hold a protest the weekend before the scheduled departure date. The “Put it to the People” march, organised by People’s Vote, will call for the public to be given a final say on any Brexit deal. Its timing – on March 23 – follows suggestions that a deal may not be agreed until the eleventh hour. Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29.
There is absolutely no possibility of organising any vote in that one week period. Nada, zilch. Thus it’s an isometric exercise, a lot of effort going nowhere.
There can be a new referendum on Brexit only if there is a majority in the House of Commons for it. That means Jeremy Corbyn has to support it, and he has to ask Labour MPs to vote for it. Some of them would ignore his request, but they might be outweighed by a number of pro-EU Conservative MPs voting against their party line.
The march is going to change matters in just that one week, is it?
The plans will involve a huge march in London on Saturday, 23 March, aimed at demonstrating the scale of public anxiety about the two Brexit options May is offering, which will conclude with speeches outside the Palace of Westminster. Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend. Then on 25 and 26 March, MPs of all parties say they will be ready to rally behind a “lethal” amendment that will allow May’s deal to be passed, but only on condition that it is first ratified and approved by the British people in a referendum. Such a referendum would require article 50 to be delayed. If the British people reject May’s deal in that second public vote, the UK would in all probability stay in the EU on its current terms.
Here’s the basic problem everyone has to grapple with. Gina Miller and others have managed to paint us all into the corner where Parliament – by which we mean the Commons – must make a positive vote to embrace any alternative to the current situation. That’s what “meaningful vote” means. The current situation is that we leave on March 29th. With no deal. Thus we need a positive vote in favour of something else to overturn that event.
There is no majority for any other course of action. There’s a lovely majority against this status quo plan. But none in favour of anything else. And, again, there has to be that positive majority in favour of whatever new plan.
The current betting odds are that Article 50 is delayed. I’m not so sure, I think we’re to come out to WTO terms. Not because anyone other than me actually wants this, but because the headless chickens have painted themselves into that corner.