Theresa May today emphatically ruled out the idea of a second Brexit vote, saying that the 2016 referendum was “the people’s vote”.
In an interview with the Daily Express she said, “My answer to the People’s Vote is that we’ve had the people’s vote – it was the referendum – and now we should deliver on it”.
But the PM seems to have made the same mistake as many others in confusing a vote on the government’s Brexit deal with the decision to leave the EU itself.
The People’s Vote is not a second referendum. If it was, the options would be the same as the first referendum with two simple choices on whether to remain a member of the European Union or leave it.
Rather, the People’s Vote seeks to ensure that the government’s Brexit deal is put before the country in a public vote so that we can decide if a decision that will affect our lives for generations makes the country better or worse off – and it should be supported by people on either side of the debate.
According to the latest research just 22 per cent of people think that the government will get a good deal from Europe. Seventy per cent of Leave voters now think the government is doing a bad job of handling the process and support for a People’s Vote is soaring as a consequence.
But the thing that seems to be putting parties off from delivering it is the perverse notion that doing so would be a betrayal of democracy, when if anything, it is a purveyor of it.
Ever since Britain voted to leave the European Union the country’s future has been in the hands of the Conservative government.
We have entrusted Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Theresa May to create a deal for Britain that will make Britain better off outside the EU, with very little public interference on the direction they have pursued.
Indeed, the public have only had one say on their confidence in the government since the EU referendum and that ended in a crushing blow for Theresa May’s party which now must lend a hand from a marginal number of DUP politicians to prop up her authority in parliament.
With waning support in the Brexit process and in the party handling it surely denying the public a vote on the eventual deal they put to the EU is the biggest betrayal of democracy in a generation? Yet because we have confused it with a so-called “second referendum” this is a crime that will undoubtedly come to pass.