The “People’s Voice” initiative today publishes its first report about how voters from both sides of the Brexit debate can work together to address challenges they share and learn the lessons of the last referendum.
The findings, which map out some of the common ground occupied by people in all parts of the country, come as more and more MPs conclude it is the only way to secure a lasting settlement on Brexit.
Launched in January by Jess Phillips MP in Birmingham, the People’s Voice initiative has since held meetings in towns and cities ranging from Grimsby and Sunderland to Exeter.
Conversations have brought together people who voted both leave and remain to discuss the deep-rooted problems facing them, their families and communities which they feel are being ignored by mainstream politics.
The People’s Voice has heard from thousands of voters through an online consultation, and hundreds more have had their say at events across the country involving local MPs, employers, community leaders and young people.
MPs including Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley), Rachel Reeves (Leeds West), Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South), Ben Bradshaw (Exeter), Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion), and Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) have taken part so far.
Contributors from across the country told the People’s Voice of the towering challenges they fear face the nation, including a decline of patriotism, rising inequality and insecure work. The initiative shone a light on people’s frustration with falsehoods propagated by both old and new media, the absence of shared facts, as well as the Remain campaign’s “project fear” or the undeliverable promises of the Leave campaign.
Bridget Phillipson, Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, said:
“A new public vote on Brexit can and must be different to 2016. People are crying out for a more respectful, honest conversation about this whole issue. The People’s Voice event I held in Sunderland proved that when we bring people from all sides of the Brexit debate together, it needn’t turn acrimonious, we can agree on the facts and the challenges our country faces even if we disagree on the solutions.
“One of the tragedies of Brexit is that it has sucked all the oxygen from our political debate. For three years there has been a focus on little else but Europe, while our public services creak at the seams, child poverty rises and our industries lose confidence and cut jobs in the parts of the country that can least afford it.
“I know there are divisions in this country and passionately held views on all sides of the Brexit debate, but I believe we’ll do far better talking about them than sweeping them under the carpet. A final say referendum can be different from 2016, it can start a conversation that’s long overdue about the things that really matter to this country.”
Andrew Cooper, Group Board Director of Populus and pollster for the 2016 Stronger In campaign. said:
“The 2016 referendum left a bad taste in the mouth. Fake news, project fear and undeliverable promises damaged trust in politics and were a chief cause of the chaotic, never-ending Brexit process to which the nation has since been subjected.
“Those campaigning to stay in the EU cannot be tin-eared to the towering challenges faced by so many people and communities across the UK. There are very good reasons why people voted for Brexit, a successful remain campaign will have to convince them that these challenges are best fixed working within, not outside, the EU.
“And we need to find a way to agree on some shared facts. A new referendum has the big advantage that it will test a specific Brexit deal against staying in the EU, so the trade offs will be clearer. But even so politicians and campaigners have a responsibility to treat facts with more respect.”
The People’s Voice initiative is set to continue with more events around the country, focussing on areas that voted heavily to leave. Locations being considered include Leigh, Luton and Islwyn (Welsh Valleys).
Notes to Editors:
A link to the report can be found here: