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Opinion: Democracy Demands a Second Referendum

Published on: 7 Dec, 2018
Updated on: 10 Dec, 2018

Paul Kennedy

By Paul Kennedy

Former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Mole Valley

The following was written as an open letter to Sir Paul Beresford, the Conservative MP for Mole Valley constituency which covers five of the eastern wards of Guildford Borough.

Dear Sir Paul,

In the 23rd June 2016 referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, you and I campaigned for Britain to remain a fully autonomous voting member of the European Union with all the influence, economic and cultural benefits, security, environmental safeguards and personal freedoms we now enjoy.

The majority of Mole Valley residents agreed with us, voting for Remain by 53% to 47% in Mole Valley District and 56% to 44% in Guildford Borough, to say nothing of the thousands of young people and EU citizens living here who were denied a vote.

Sadly, the referendum result across the country was inconclusive with a majority of less than 52% to 48% expressing a preference for Leave, but with sizeable majorities for Remain in areas with most at stake like London, Scotland, Northern Ireland and of course Gibraltar where 96% of voters backed Remain. Against that background it was right that the government should seek to negotiate a better deal with our European partners which could command the support of a larger percentage of the population than the 16 million plus who voted Remain in 2016.

However, it must be clear to even the most loyal of Conservative MPs that the government’s proposed Brexit deal fails that test. The government’s own figures show the deal outlined in the Chequers Plan will make us permanently 3.9% worse off than if we were to remain in the European Union. And the attorney-general’s legal advice is that Britain faces many years of “protracted and repeated rounds of negotiations”, from a position of considerable disadvantage, before we can expect a permanent deal on which businesses can plan their investments, and families and individuals can plan their lives.

We live in a dangerous world, with Putin’s Russia looking to exploit divisions in Europe, and Trump’s America proving itself an unreliable ally in trade, security and the environment. Is this really the right time, as your colleague, East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah, put it when resigning over Britain’s humiliating exit from the Galileo Space Project, for Britain to have “surrendered our voice, our vote and our veto” over the single market rules the government is committing us to follow in perpetuity? Meanwhile none of the promised “opportunities” from Brexit have even been identified let alone realised. No wonder prominent Leave campaigners such as Boris Johnson admit that the proposed deal could well be worse than the full EU membership they campaigned so hard against.

Against this background, I am asking you, begging you, to put party loyalty aside and instead put the national interest and the interests of your own constituents first. Reject this dreadful deal that nobody has so far voted for, and support the multi-party campaign for a People’s Vote on whatever Brexit deal (or deals) the Government wishes to put forward against what many opinion polls are indicating is now a substantial majority support for retaining our full EU membership and all the advantages that go with it. With the turnover in the electorate since 2016 now considerably larger than the original majority for Leave, democracy demands no less.

That is not to say we should be satisfied with the European Union treaties as they are. With a new EU budget about to be negotiated, Britain has a huge opportunity to wield our veto in order to ensure that the European Union is reformed and improved in the interests of Britain and the rest of Europe as a whole. However, we need to be negotiating from a position of strength, as a fully voting member, not as a vassal state trapped in a self-defeating backstop of our own devising.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Kennedy

See also Sir Paul Beresford’s response: Opinion: We Have A Clear Instruction From The People

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Responses to Opinion: Democracy Demands a Second Referendum

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    December 8, 2018 at 9:28 am

    The proposed surrender, cooked up by civil servants in secret and then unveiled at the last moment a take it or you do not escape from the corrupt and truly hated, undemocratic EU at all, deal, is an insult to the people of this country. We have voted clearly and significantly in 2016 to get out and want completely out. No half in and half out – completely out.

    The patriotic part of the Conservative party plus the DUP will ensure that the present ludicrous proposals will be killed off and then we need to go out on WTO terms.

    The last thing we need is yet another referendum.

    • Greta Petersen Reply

      December 9, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      Stuart for President!

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    December 8, 2018 at 9:41 am

    A second referendum would be unconstitutional. Britain has already voted on this issue, even though they were misled as to the implications of Brexit. Sadly, Mrs May did not have the courage or humility to surround herself with a better team of negotiators and has ended up with the worst deal possible. A “No deal” exit is preferable to tieing ourselves to the EU’s apron strings forever. They have bullied Britain into a deal which suits them, not us.

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