Rt. Hon. Dame Margaret Beckett MP and Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC MP, the joint Political Chairs of the People’s Vote campaign, will today (Tuesday) launch a new report entitled Six Dead-Ends, One Cliff-Edge, Only One Way Out.
It shows how a series of proposed Brexit outcomes are likely to deepen the crisis and lead to further deadlock, before setting out a clear – democratic - path to a lasting solution through a People’s Vote:
- Argues that seeking the removal of the backstop – or a time limit – will only serve to run down the clock towards No Deal because the idea “was tested to destruction by Theresa May” and the EU’s view “has not changed”.
- Warns Boris Johnson against agreeing to a Northern Ireland-only backstop, arguing that there wouldn't be a parliamentary majority for such a deal because of the risks it would pose to the peace process, and that it would likely lead to the collapse of the Government.
- Points out that trying to force through a tweaked version of the Withdrawal Agreement, with either cosmetic changes to the backstop or a longer transition period, will also fail to secure a majority.
- Highlights the "enormous risks" for the new Prime Minister of calling a general election. "Assuming it took place before 20 November, defeat would make them the shortest serving prime minister of the United Kingdom in history, beating the record set when George Canning died in August 1827 after 119 days in office."
- Shows how proroguing Parliament in order to force through No Deal would make it "inconceivable" that the Government could retain the confidence of the House of Commons, meaning should Boris Johnson attempt this it would be "a kamikaze act".
- Explains where much of the extra support in Parliament for a People's Vote is likely to come from because "the formation of a new Government may well free up more Conservative MPs to back a People’s Vote”.
- Sets out a series of procedural devices MPs will be able to use to block No Deal and force a vote on a final say referendum, and warns the new Prime Minister that "Ignoring the clear will of the House of Commons will not be a credible option available to the Government."
- Explains how a People’s Vote could take place, calling for an "an extension [of Article 50] into the new year, with polling day scheduled for some time in Spring 2020" - adding that unlike any other proposal this "would provide a clear timetable towards a resolution of the Brexit crisis."
Margaret Beckett MP will say:
“Two months ago, Theresa May announced she would be stepping down as Prime Minister because she had exhausted every possible avenue for delivering a Brexit deal.
“In the time since, we have had to watch most of the candidates to replace her as Conservative leader vying for the support of the 160,000 people who are members of their party by pretending that the same routes that were blocked to Mrs May are viable paths for them.
“Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt insist that as Prime Minister they could secure the kind of concessions from the EU that Theresa May sought in vain over two years of negotiations. Both threaten, as she sometimes did, that if they cannot secure a good deal they will take Britain out of the EU with No Deal. Both have people around them, who really should know better, who suggest that calling a General Election or proroguing Parliament could offer a way out of the crisis rather than deepening it.
“The truth is that, as the UK stumbles towards the new Brexit deadline of October 31, these undeliverable, unattractive or unedifying proposals are making the UK’s position look ever more precarious.
“We are approaching a new cliff-edge of accidentally crashing out of the EU with No Deal. There is only one viable solution and it is also happens to be the most democratic.
“Instead of trying to force Brexit through Parliament and on the country, we believe there is a route to a legitimate and lasting settlement by giving the people the final say. It is a position now supported by every opposition party, including my own, in the House of Commons. It is a practical and democratic solution supported by an increasing number of Conservative MPs too. A People’s Vote is the only way out of this crisis.”
Dominic Grieve MP will say:
“My party, the Conservative Party, has always stood for the national interest and, now more than ever, we must not forget our values or our duty to our country.
“It is extraordinary that any Conservative should be trying to force a destructive Brexit on Britain when it is clear this was not what people voted for. We should not even be thinking about inflicting a No Deal on Britain when this was barely even mentioned in 2016. Nor do I believe any right-thinking Conservative Prime Minister should be risking a General Election which, far from ending the Brexit crisis, will really only deepen it.
“Some talk about an alliance in such an election with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party as if it could deliver a landslide but, even if that was the case, it would not be for a party that Churchill, Macmillan, Thatcher or Major would recognise. It would be a victory for a virulent form of populism that is a threat to our most cherished values and our democracy. It would be the end of the Conservative Party as we know it.
“Instead, Conservatives should be seeking to build a stable majority in Parliament to settle the Brexit crisis, acting in the long-term interests of the Union and the British people and working across party lines to find a solution that ensures – whether we eventually leave the EU or stay – the deadlock in Parliament is broken and any outcome is a legitimate one.
“Giving the public the final say would settle the issue without the party being blamed for imposing either a Brexit deal or a No Deal Brexit on the country without its explicit consent. Some of us see such a referendum as our best hope of stopping Brexit. But more and more Conservatives see it as a way of breaking the deadlock and delivering Brexit. Either way, it is a democratic answer to a question that threatens not only our party but also our country.”
Notes to editors
The report can be read at: http://bit.ly/2Y87LtG
The report is being launched at press conference on Tuesday morning.