If you’re not scared, you should be. At the very least, you should be feeling… shall we say, motivated round about now. Why you may ask? Because of this:
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been rejected by 230 votes – the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.
MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, which sets out the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU on 29 March.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a vote of no confidence in the government, which could trigger a general election.
The confidence vote is expected to be held at about 1900 GMT on Wednesday.
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Mr Corbyn said it would allow the House of Commons to “give its verdict on the sheer incompetence of this government”.
But DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party, which keeps Mrs May in power, would be supporting her in Wednesday’s confidence vote.
She told the BBC MPs had “acted in the best interests of the entire United Kingdom” by voting down the deal.
But she added: “We will give the government the space to set out a plan to secure a better deal.”
Some 118 Conservative MPs voted with the opposition parties against Mrs May’s deal.
Only three Labour MPs supported the prime minister’s deal: Ian Austin (Dudley North), Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) and John Mann (Bassetlaw).
To make matters worse, fresh chaos may ensue as a result of this:
Whilst I find myself largely in agreement with many of Corbyn’s ideas, he has spent far too much time sitting on the fence regarding Brexit, refusing to openly support a second referendum on EU membership, despite all signs pointing toward a Remain victory if a second vote were held today. I’m strongly of the view that Brexit is one gigantic mistake, sold to us via a pack of lies and mismanaged from the start, a view I believe is shared by a great many, yet Corbyn might lead us into Brexit anyway.
That would be a mistake, both to the majority of Labour supporters, but also to the British people at large. Surveys suggest a majority would vote Remain if given the chance, so surely Mr Corbyn, if he should find himself in power, should move to honour the wishes of a majority of his supporters and the public in general? His failure to act with certainty on the most pressing issue of the hour doesn’t inspire confidence.
Meanwhile, we have a deeply divided Tory party. They are at odds with one another, voting en masse against their leader and Prime Minister, because different factions within their ranks have their own agendas and reasons for opposing Mrs May’s deal. There is no consenus within the Tory party around what form Brexit should take – a problem that’s existed since day one and now threatens the stability of the government in a way that’s almost unprecedented. We are lurching toward the cliff of no deal, a scenario that means any and all processes associated with the EU stop, completely and utterly, on Brexit day. There will no transition period on matters such as trade, security, customs, finances, anything. We will be cut off, with no deals in place to pick up any of the slack in these areas. It will affect everyone, in some way shape or form. Nor will it be a positive impact – only a painful one, one that could linger for years or even decades. We are sliding into this blind.
We have two choices that could mitigate or even prevent any of this. Option 1 involves going back to the EU and getting a deal that everyone can agree with. It would still involve short term pain but at least gives us time. Option 2 would be to remain in the EU, a scenario that prevents any short or long term problems and lets us all carry on without any uncertainty. For option 2 to become a reality would require a second vote, something that someone has to be brave enough to call for.
Yet there remains a problem. To some, a second vote is an assault on democracy. I can understand that view. As someone who has championed democracy as the best form of government we have, it means I have to agree, in principle, that we should honour the outcome of a referendum. However, it has been made clear that both sides in the referendum made many mistakes and framed arguments in a less than honest fashion. We have had two and a half years to get to grips with the ramifications of the vote, two and a half years to digest Brexit and two a half years to devise a means to make it work. We have had tasters of the outcome, with several companies making redundancies owing to the uncertainty. Surely we owe it to ourselves but also the next generation, to have one final say before we edge over a no deal cliff? Surely a second vote, based on up-to-date information and a better understanding of the situation, would be a smart move?
Would it be undemocratic? I don’t believe so. We hold regular votes all the time and they reflect new information and are based on evolving circumstances. We call these votes ‘elections’ and they can have profound effects on the country. Why should Brexit be different? Why is Brexit carved in stone, an immutable fact?
Would a second vote with a Remain outcome this time cause civil unrest? Possibly, in isolated cases, though I believe such predictions are based more on scare-mongering. What if a second referendum yields Leave once again? I wouldn’t like it but it would have to be considered decisive, at which point we would desperately need a government capable of a good deal, which right now, we don’t have (another good reason to stop this process now).
I have said my piece. Disassemble it, dissect it, do with it what you must. I will happily defend it to the hilt, for I believe Brexit to be a terrible idea and one that will hurt the country that I love. If you feel the need to suggest I am a traitor, or that I don’t love my country, you should know your words will count for less than gibberish to me. Present to me instead a reasoned argument for why Brexit is a good idea and I will read it. I don’t promise agreement at the end, but I promise to treat it fairly.