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ANALYSIS EUROPE

Can the UK Meet New Brexit Deadline Without a Second Referendum?

Anti-Brexit protest Manchester, UK 2017
Anti-Brexit protest Manchester, UK 2017 (Photo: Ilovetheeu)
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of Citizen Truth.)

“…In my view that clear and simple message should be that there should be a confirmatory vote of the British people” — former Labour foreign secretary Margaret Beckett. 

Despite reluctance from French President Emmanuel Macron, the European Union (EU) granted the United Kingdom a Brexit extension until Oct. 31. British Prime Minister Theresa May must provide a “school report” on the negotiation process at the end of June unless a deal is reached prior to that time.

As Citizen Truth reported before the previous April 12 deadline, British Members of Parliament (MPs) passed the Cooper Bill making a no-deal Brexit proposal illegal, driving the country closer to a second referendum. May’s Conservative party is currently entrenched in its position against another referendum, yet few other realistic options are presenting themselves.

What’s Next for Brexit?

“This extension is as flexible as I expected, but a lot shorter than I expected, but it’s still enough to find the best possible solution. Please do not waste this time,” said EU Council President Donald Tusk after article 50 was extended for a second time April 11.

“Over the last three months I have voted three times to leave the European Union. If sufficient members of parliament had voted with me in January, we would already be out of the European Union,” Prime Minister May stated, laying the blame at the feet of MPs.

The “flextension” agreement allows for three possible actions: ratification of the withdrawal agreement May negotiated with the EU, revoke article 50 and remain in the bloc or leave the EU without a deal. As mentioned earlier, the Cooper Bill makes the latter illegal under British law. Parliament has also shown little will to pass the current withdrawal agreement; leaving a second referendum as the most logical option.

As of now, officials from both the Conservative and Labour parties state they would have conversations and test each other’s ideas over the next 10 days.

Second Referendum Looms

Key Labour members, including Richard Corbett, who leads Labour’s 20 Members of European Parliament (MEP) have been upfront with their support for a second referendum, which has been dubbed a People’s Vote by supporters.

“If Labour does not re-confirm its support for a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal in its manifesto, then it will hemorrhage votes to parties who do have a clear message. If on the other hand, we do offer clarity and a confirmatory ballot, we could do very well,” said Corbett.

Former Labour foreign secretary Margaret Beckett echoed Corbett’s statement. “It is very important that there is a clear message about where Labour stands and what Labour is offering. In my view that clear and simple message should be that there should be a confirmatory vote of the British people,” said Beckett concerning calls for a second referendum being featured in Labour’s European election manifesto.

However, not all members of the leading opposition party agree, “It is just not realistic to hope the prime minister would ever whip her MPs to back a second referendum. The first task should be to get a ‘Labour-shaped’ deal agreed and embedded in the withdrawal agreement so it was not able to be ripped up by a future Tory leader,” said Labour MP Stephen Kinnock who is hopeful about recent reports surrounding Prime Minister May about a customs union.

With the threat of Generation Z voters losing faith in Labour if the party backs a Conservative Brexit proposal, the upcoming weeks will be intriguing for the party. If party leaders embrace the call for a People’s Vote, Labour could see renewed electoral energy that it hasn’t seen in more than a decade.

Spurning the will of young voters, who are overwhelmingly against Brexit, could cause the party to lose favor with its base, opening the door for a rise of the Green party or Liberal Democrats.

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Walter Yeates

Walter Yeates is a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter who embedded at Standing Rock with military Veterans and First People in December 2016. He covers a range of topics at Citizen Truth and is open for tips and suggestions. Twitter: www.twitter.com/GentlemansHall or www.twitter.com/SmoothJourno Muckrack: https://muckrack.com/walteryeates

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