Any General Election Must Now Include a Referendum

MPs will vote again today on whether or not to agree to the Prime Minister’s offer of pre-Christmas General Election on Thursday 12th December 2019, or even Monday 9th December 2019, the alternative date requested by Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democratic leader.

This must be very tempting if you have your eyes on Boris Johnson’s new job. He’s not yet out of his 6 month probation period (we’ll, if only the role came with that, but that’s another matter altogether) but is clearly keen to put his job out to advert. Either he’s a fool or supremely confident (does the Pope pray?) that he’d win a clear majority that would enable him to (a) Get Brexit Done and (b) more effectively govern the nation and push through his Government’s new legislative bill passed last week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Up till now Labour and other major parties had thus far refused to agree to a General Election until the possibility of crashing out on 31st October 2019 without a deal was taken off the table. Well there’s more chance of Tony Blair returning to lead the Labour party than the UK leaving the European Union (EU) this Thursday! That we could leave never ever seemed remotely likely based on the parliamentary and EU timetable in place at the time Boris Johnson was elected to the top job in July 2019 with a predetermined Halloween extension granted by the EU in June 2019.

Conditional General Election with Referendum

If I was Labour, Liberal Democratic or Scottish National Party (SNP) leader I’d only commit to a General Election if it included a referendum with a clear set of questions, the result of which would be binding and have to be enacted by the party that is triumphant in the General Election, regardless of whether or not it accords with their party’s position on EU membership. That is the only way to most expeditiously bring closure on the matter which is what both parliament and the electorate wants and seems to be the most practical, sensible way forward that gives the Government and parliament the General Election it wants and the electorate of the United Kingdom a final say in the matter via a referendum, rather than the potential for a General Election followed possibly by a referendum and/or further stasis depending on the outcome of a General Election.

It’s been widely reported that organising a referendum takes a minimum of 6 months. As the Prime Minister believed it was possible on 17th June 2019 to review the major EU-UK agreement reached that day to leave the EU in less than 3 days, I should think organising a comparatively simple and straight forward referendum should not require 6 months and I’m sure can be accelerated to fit in with a General Election.

This referendum should have to include a clear set of questions agreed in advance by Parliament. Tiemo propose the following for consideration:

General Election

1. Which party/candidate are you voting for in the General Election?

Referendum

Please tick one, or more as applicable, of the following:

1. I wish to leave the EU (Brexit) based on the deal agreed by the Government and European Union on 17th October 2019.

2. I wish to leave with no deal by 31.01.20.

3. I request the Government to renegotiate a Brexit deal [Ideally the questions would specify what those new terms are i.e. those that would get through parliament] and leave by 31.01.20.

4. I request the Government revoke Article 50 by 31.12.19 and that Britain remains in the EU if no deal is agreed to leave by 31.12.19.

5. If no deal can be agreed by Parliament to leave by 31.01.20 I request that Britain remains.

6. If a deal agreed by Parliament is not agreed and ratified by the EU by 15.01.20 that the UK should (a) leave with no deal by 31.01.20.

7. If a deal agreed by Parliament is not agreed and ratified by the EU by 15.01.20 that the UK should (b) unilaterally revoke Article 50 and remain by 31.01.20.

8. If none of the above can be agreed that by 15.01.20 I request that a decision on Britain’s future is delegated to the Supreme Court for a final decision, to be ratified unchallenged by the House of Commons and House of Lords, within a month of the Supreme Court decision.

N.B. – If remain is to be an option, it would be better still to list the conditions upon which we wish to remain and start a whole new negotiation on the terms of the UK remaining as opposed to leaving … difficult I know, but this would require the EU to shift its position for it was their previous intransigence that resulted in former Prime Minister David Cameron calling the 2016 referendum in the first place. This might include a request for a reduction in the annual sums of money paid into the EU as well as other regulatory and general EU reforms we would like to see.

I don’t think December is a great month for the nation to be focused on a General Election, for notwithstanding the obvious difficulties, as mentioned above there is no guarantee it will resolve Brexit at all which is an entirely separate issue to the purpose of a General Election. That said and it appears to be heading that way, that there will be a December election as the Labour Leader has this morning agreed to one, I’m certain the nation would consider it a great Christmas present to get Brexit or remain completed so the country can move on.

The EU could have ended this paralysis by declining the further extension agreed on 28th October 2019. The nation had plenty of notice of this week’s deadline. The Government and EU chose to take it right up to the wire. I suspect they’ll do the same again and take it to the new 31st January 2019 deadline rather than looking to get this resolved well before then.

Election Outcome?

Judging by the outcome of recent elections I suspect the outcome will be highly unpredictable. Who’s to say there won’t be a hung parliament? If as is likely, it did become a Brexit v Remain election/referendum by default, technically it should be Conservatives + Brexit Party versus Liberal Democrats + SNP v Labour (whatever position they’re taking). However it is not certain judging by past voting and opinion polling that most Remainers will automatically vote Liberal Democrat to stop Brexit. Why that is, is a whole new debate and one for that party to focus on and look to capitalise on.

Even if the Conservatives win by a landslide it doesn’t automatically follow that Boris Johnson gets his way and that Conservative MPs will simply agree to his deal. So far I’ve seen very little in the way of support, less still anything significant, for the deal.

The Deal

Watching the so called super Saturday debate on 18th October 2019 I recall only a couple of MPs supporting the deal. Assuming that widespread opposition to the deal doesn’t change once MPs have really taken the time to scrutinise it doesn’t bode well for the deal which appears to be is as dead as the former Isis leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi.

Furthermore, one reason for the delay in approving any deal was to allow parliament sufficient time to scrutinise the agreement, so calling for a December General Election will only serve to remove 6 weeks out of the next 7 weeks for parliament to properly scrutinise the agreement, for if MPs vote for a General Election parliament would be once again suspended for parliamentary business from 6th November 2019 until the date of the election and formation of a new Government.

As parliament has not agreed a deal to leave and blocked a no deal Brexit the default ought to have been remain but parliament is curiously unwilling to follow normal logic.

A United Kingdom

It’s ironic that the Government is officially pro-Brexit and the break up of the European Union (well, for the UK as one key member leaving) yet it doesn’t welcome in the slightest the prospect of Scotland leaving and breaking up the union of the United Kingdom … Stronger Together as they say … yet when it comes to the EU it sings a different tune.

Is Brexit the Best Way Forward?

Without getting into all the immense detail, let’s look at it this way and ask how many of our fellow EU members are trying to leave the EU? The answer is zero. Nil. Nada. 0/27.

What makes the UK so special that it alone should need to get out whilst the other 27 proud nations choose to remain? Have we spotted something the others haven’t?

This doesn’t mean the EU is perfect and doesn’t require reform but if anything the UK’s Brexit stance and negotiating hand would have been far stronger if we’d acted in concert with other nations threatening to or even voting to leave as well. As it is we’ve gone it alone and the remaining 27 have stood firm … stronger together literally and figuratively.

Who Wants to Join the European Union?

Seven countries in fact have applied to join and are currently at various stages of the process of trying to meet the highly complex and stringent EU membership criteria. This shows there must be something about the EU that other countries see as worth joining. If not, why have they applied to join?

The seven include Albania, The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. For some like Turkey, negotiations to join have been going on for the last 14 years since they applied to join in 2005. All have been in negotiations for at least a minimum of 3 years, most for far longer, in one form or another. If it’s taking that long just to join … and align your values and economies with the EU’s we can only imagine how long it is going to take to leave the EU and untangle oneself from such intricate trade, environment and numerous other international agreements.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

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