A Peoples Vote
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The people of the UK participated in a referendum on whether to remain part of the European Union on the 23rd June 2016. It was a narrow majority in support of leaving, but significant, and it provided the Government with a mandate to pursue an exit agreement. So whilst I was in the minority I respect this decision that has been agreed.
The Exit agreement has now been negotiated, and has been debated in Parliament, with no clear way forward decided. It is imperative that this issue is addressed before the country is forced into economically damaging processes that none of us agreed to. Brexit was about making Britain stronger not weaker. A promise that has not been delivered.
The decision Parliament is making is the most significant decision in approximately 60 years of UK history. It is irreversible once taken, and commits our country to leaving the EU. We expect to remain a trading partner in some way yet to be fully defined. Estimates of impacts to the UK economy vary, not surprisingly, as no-one has done this before, and so difficult to predict, estimates are projected on risk assessment driven by opinion on whether you are a Brexiteer, or a Remainer.
This leaves our parliament divided on view with deep divisions. If as is indicated by opinion today we are left with a debate in Parliament that has no support for the Brexit deal on offer, and the Government are defeated, I want a peoples vote and petition the Prime Minister to provide it if she is defeated. It is clear from our history that when our politicians fail us, it is we; the people, that decide. It is in my opinion a decision that the people need to provide needs a simple question:
Do you still wish to exit the European Union now you know the exit deal?
I petition the Prime Minister to ask that question of the people of Britain as she has failed.
I am not a Brexiteer, and I did not believe the campaign, but I agree with its sentiment, I do want control over areas which affect me within the UK. I believe that to be a member of a club like the EU the best approach to change is working within it sending our brightest, and best, to negotiate with the EU institutions. To work within them to obtain the changes we need. We have been very good at this in the past. You would be surprised to know that this approach, when socialised with others, can achieve significant results and change whilst slow does occur. This includes our MEP's some of which are hard working to build support for UK opinion. So I do agree with the sentiment of Brexit, but disagree on how to achieve it. You cannot change a club by leaving it, only reinforce the view of the club that they are right. I have worked in the European Commission, I am well aware of how it works, and there are many things I do not like about it, and I would wish to change them.
I also know from working with the UK government that there are many things I wish to change there too. Our borders, a key part of the Brexit case are too weak, and have been so since the 1990's. Allowing many people to cross it them, without any ability of the agencies tasked with protecting them to stop problems, so obvious when you stand on a border as I have, from coming in.
Our financial security is not as robust as it once was. The 2008 banking crisis was a disaster which will be felt for a generation at least. We are highly reliant on a few key industries to support our wealth. With rebuilding our financial security a key component of Brexit; why risk closing off, or reducing access to, a market we already have in excess of 500 million people. Our industries are reliant on European Trade as well as a global market place in which we like to compete. The EU, taken as a whole is the UK's largest trading partner. In 2017, UK exports to the EU were £274 billion (44% of all UK exports). UK imports from the EU were £341 billion (53% of all UK imports) (https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7851 Our top EU trade partner in 2017 was Germany an EU country. I ask myself why would we wish to disrupt this.
We have heard much on this about markets we can tap outside the EU. Our top trading partner are Germany and the US. The President has already stated that this may change if we exit. Then there is the issue of standards to which you adhere for manufacturing. If you don't control these then you will be required to match them anyway. Why agree to a market which others are controlling through their standards process because they are bigger and you have no ability to vote on. I am sure the car workers of the UK, seeing their jobs at threat from a poor exit, along with bankers, and insurers supporting European business and many other sectors from pharma to agriculture and fisheries are all tired of the uncertainty and lack of a voice in the world but all would rather have the trading agreements they have as a certainty than something which is unclear and may, or may not, be delivered. I am in small business myself and I much prefer certainty, than uncertainty. We need a strong clear policy on these and many issues not dogma and blind obedience to unclear party led policies.
But most of all for me is the knowledge that we are the United Kingdom a powerful state that has supported me, and should be able to support my children and their offspring. It is a global partner to likeminded States with a strong leadership voice I have used many times in international fora. We are made up of many elements: Scots, Irish, Welsh, and English peoples, with a multi-cultural view from migrants who have settled here from all parts of the world. Not the labels of Brexiteers and Remainers who like the Roundheads and Cavaliers that divided Britain in times past they will be consigned to history when this is over.
It is We, the people of this United Kingdom are what puts the 'Great' in Great Britain, the people of this country, and it is 'We' the people who should have the last word on our future.
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