Written by Alexander Finer |
Brexit is just over six months away, or under 190 days to be more precise, but many decisions are yet to be made; new trade arguments are still needed to be forged, as is a solution over Ireland’s potential hard border and we desperately need party unity. There is a mammoth task ahead, especially now as the EU has rejected the Chequers proposal.
Fortunately, Theresa May has managed to make some advancements this year in striking trade agreements with African countries in allowing Britain to work with countries around the globe, to strengthen economic links. Among the many challenges facing the UK, that is one job ticked off.
Some call this progress, but striking bilateral trade agreements do not seem to be the only critical issue confronting Theresa May. Now more than ever, supporters of a People’s Vote will ensure their voices are heard on the biggest issue impacting Britain. This fear is being realised through the major push for a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal launched by MPs, celebrities and business leaders, with the most recent advocate being the London mayor, Sadiq Khan. Other MPs include Conservative, Anna Soubry, Labour’s Chuka Umunna, the Greens’ Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat Layla Moran.
“As a student at university, I have seen the popularisation of this idea, but the reasons behind the decision to support it worry me.”
As a student at university, I have seen the popularisation of this idea, but the reasons behind the decision to support it worry me. The National Union of Students (NUS), the Student Publication Association, New Generation For People’s Vote, For Our Future’s Sake and countless other groups have combined forces to promote a people’s vote, gaining a momentum force with over 815,091 signatures for a People’s Vote petition.
Firstly, I think it’s a good sign to see that more and more students are getting active in politics and thinking about the future. But the arguments some make are not so great. Fellow university students have made emotional videos stating: “I feel hurt for the friendships I am going to lose, the people I will never get to meet or work with. I’ve met fantastic people all around the EU and I would not for a second rid that experience for future generations.”
“Well, what about your other friends who support Leave, that you might lose by broadcasting your political alignment?”
Well, what about your other friends who support Leave, that you might lose by broadcasting your political alignment? Brexit does not mean you can’t work in the EU, or that EU citizens can’t work in Britain, even if there are stricter regulations. Regarding student relations, the university abroad programs are guaranteed to be in place after Brexit as well. Nevertheless, I am not certain how many people they were intending on meeting.
Secondly, NUS comment that they represent about one million students on a people’s vote- this is a lie- they represent one million students through their membership- but not on Brexit issues- the NUS exaggerates the engagement and alignment of its members, claiming to speak for all. Some notable examples of pro-Brexit students are individuals like Tom Harwood, who while at Durham’s university campaigned for Brexit and objects to a second referendum. There does seem to be a political hijacking of student-oriented groups and student publications, the NUS treats the student population as a homogenous body and not a diverse population with a range of views.
“I am not personally against a second referendum but I am concerned about what the advocates would include in a People’s Vote.”
Surprisingly as a Brexiteer, I am not personally against a second referendum but I am concerned about what the advocates would include in a people’s vote. Students I have spoken to want to include the possibility of remaining on the ballot. It sounds like hypocrisy as they seem genuinely oblivious to the 1975 Referendum on the European Community with a 67% vote in favour of continued membership- crucially there was no second referendum here.
Not forgetting the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson saying: “I ask you to use your vote. For it is your vote that will now decide. The Government will accept your verdict.” Faced with the task in hand, the Government seems divided in their enthusiasm to accept and respect the people’s verdict. Are we living in a time of double standards? Or democracy?
“Are we living in a time of double standards? Or democracy?”
However, if we could unpick the agendas behind the People’s Vote, would there still be a moral case for one? Perhaps it would give us only two options: either endorse the Government’s deal or leave without one. Well, either wouldn’t be much use- the Government’s deal could be a total sham. That doesn’t then automatically mean that a no deal Brexit outcome would be popular either, so it all depends on the post-Brexit forecasts and realities. If there was a no deal outcome, leading to the automatic default of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. Thousands of businesses would close causing irreconcilable damage, meaning, yes we would need to consider the affected stakeholders opinion.
A People’s Vote could represent a fairer and more accurate representation of the population. In addition, It would make leaders and politicians more accountable to provide information for each scenario on the ballot. However, bear in mind that the result of people’s vote would be binding- if you didn’t like Brexit in the first place and WTO ballot proposal got the majority vote, then tough luck.
Think UK politics is in a mess? Believe it or not, it could be worse, but if a People’s Vote was clearly laid out and made consistent across the political parties, maybe – just maybe- it could help bring the divided voters and parliament together.