“People didn’t vote for no deal” – indeed they didn’t, because they weren’t asked that question; “People didn’t vote to be poorer” – nor that one. They were asked whether they wanted to stay in the EU or leave; a majority voted to leave. It might be called moving the goalposts except that the goal has already been scored, you would hope the video referee would notice but the BBC and others didn’t challenge these Philip Hammond statements. As Google states, “this is an informal logical fallacy in which previously agreed upon standards for deciding an argument are arbitrarily changed once they have been met. This is usually done by the “losing” side of an argument in a desperate bid to save face.”
Parliament agreed to a referendum and promised that it would be binding but refused to be bound by the unexpected result. MPs overwhelming voted to trigger the Article 50 process to leave the EU and most (85%) were later re-elected on a manifesto promise to see it through. Parliament has now voted to stop Brexit unless a deal is agreed while knowing that the only deal the EU will accept, without the threat of no deal being accepted by Parliament, is the one ‘on the table’, which Parliament has already rejected three times. The House has agreed to bring back the infamous Withdrawal Agreement for a fourth vote! (See Round and Round the Mulberry Bush)
There is a simple way to stop Brexit or to stop leaving without the EU’s agreement – call an election. Of course this assumes that the people agree with Parliament and vote for members of parties that take this stance, it would solve all the unedifying constitutional wrangles that exist at present. The problem is that the combined opposition parties and Tory rebels are afraid the people won’t agree with them, but Parliament is supposed to do what the people want. Damn democracy, it’s really inconvenient for the EU and its adherents, much better to have an autocracy where these things are left only to the people who know best.
What is Labour’s plan? Emily Thornberry, shadow Foreign Secretary, explained it neatly on BBC’s Question Time: get a deal—the WA is the only one on the table that the EU will accept, especially since there’s no need for it to weaken its position in face of this impotent Parliament—then offer a Referendum; on no account allow voters to say “just go”. Labour would campaign to remain since that’s obviously the better option. We agree with Emily: “Remain is better than a Labour deal”; “Bollocks to Brexit (on these terms)”; “Workers of Britain unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains” (whoops, that sounds a bit too revolutionary for a socialist minister).
What can Boris do, given that he would “rather die in a ditch” than ask the EU for another pointless extension? He could resign but says he won’t, which leaves the only option to break the law, get taken to court and presumably be sent down by the judge. That would probably magnify his popularity so increasing his chances of winning the election when it does eventually occur, then he can repeal the law. Sounds like a plan if he doesn’t mind doing porridge and acquiring a criminal record.
John McDonnell on Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show (BBC1 08/09/19) said that if it won power Labour would ask Brussels to simply “confirm” the deal on offer (that’s the thrice-rejected Withdrawal Agreement) so that it could “go back to the people again”. ‘No deal’ would not be on the ballot because it was not a “realistic offer”. He, like Thornberry, says he will back Remain.
A Labour spokesman said: “The Shadow Chancellor’s position is entirely in keeping with Labour’s plan to negotiate a credible deal, which would then go back to the people to have the final say on whether they want to leave on these terms or remain in the EU.”
The Shadow International Development Secretary, Barry Gardiner, said on BBC’s Piennar’s Politics show that referendums were a bad idea but if there was one it should require a super-majority of “60 percent, two thirds or whatever”. It’s obvious that threshold won’t be met so this “people’s vote” will be void and the status quo (remaining) must hold.
OK, that’s “very clear”, to use Theresa May’s well-warn phrase. Whatever wording shadow ministers agree for their election manifesto message Labour will disrespect the 2016 Referendum result. Only they won’t put it so clearly.