Could Theresa May’s Brexit deal pass into law but with the implementation date delayed to allow time for a new referendum? Two Labour MPs, Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, are working for just such an outcome, and there is growing cross-party support for an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement bill that would allow for a confirmation vote in a new referendum.
The Kyle/Wilson initiative comes days after grassroots campaigners from the award-winning civil rights group New Europeans put forward a compromise proposal along similar lines.
Speaking about the latest developments, Roger Casale, founder of New Europeans and former Labour MP said:
“We are hugely encouraged that Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson are pushing this course of action and we call on MPs from all parties to support their initiative.”
The New Europeans proposal called for a 3 month extension of Article 50, the backing of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement with a ‘sunset clause’ to allow for a public vote on the final deal, with the referendum itself to take place on 23 May, the day of the European elections. The political commentator, Ian Dunt has described the new Europeans proposal “as a serious attempt at a compromise – turns the withdrawal agreement into default and offers a democratic say on the final terms as they are in reality.”
Days later, MPs Phil Wilson and Peter Kyle came forward with their amendment.
New Europeans has written to David Lidington MP, Cabinet Office minister and Deputy Prime Minister and to Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer MP to urge support. Chancellor John McDonnell has agreed to look at the proposal.
Speaking about the initiative, Roger Casale said:
“It is time to cut the Gordian knot and that can only be done in our view by passing the Withdrawal Agreement as it stands in return for a public vote.
The importance of the Kyle/Wilson amendment is that it would secure the referendum in law at the moment the House of Commons votes through the Withdrawal Agreement .
Endorsing the Kyle/Wilson approach, Roger Casale said
“The great advantage of this approach is that it breaks the parliamentary deadlock. And it means that if Britain votes to leave again, if does so with a deal. If Britain votes to stay, the agreement is nullified and the Government revokes Article 50.”
New Europeans argues there is still time to organise the new referendum if this is done on the same day as the European elections, 23 May and using the same question as the one on the ballot paper in June 2016. A new referendum question would cause delay as it would need to be tested in public trials over a period of twelve weeks. Further delays would also occur if administrative arrangements needed to be put in place for a ballot on a day when other elections were not taking place.
The civil rights group also fears that the EU will not agree to extend Article 50 beyond the 29 June as the new European Parliament will sit from 2 July. Calling for support for the overall proposal of a 3 month extension, the Kyle/Wilson amendment and a referendum on EU elections day, Roger Casale said:
“Too many lives have been left in limbo by the Brexit uncertainty, businesses are closing down and others are relocating away from Britain. It is time to end the uncertainty and that can only be done through compromise, and by accepting the twin reality of the Withdrawal Agreement in its present form and the need for a People’s Vote.”
To sign the open letter from New Europeans calling for a 3 month extension to Article 50, and for Theresa May’s deal to be passed in return for a referendum on 23 May, click here.
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