Tom Watson will tomorrow take centre stage in front of hundreds of thousands of protesters to declare that Britain can only begin to heal its bitter divisions if the people are given the final say on Brexit.
The deputy Leader of the Labour Party will deliver a keynote address to the “Put it to the People March” in Parliament Square ahead of crucial decisions for MPs next week when Theresa May is expected to try for the third time to get her Brexit deal over the line.
And he will use his speech to offer the Prime Minister a new compromise that would remove the threat of crashing out of Europe with ‘no deal,’ saying he would be willing to vote for a Brexit deal in the House of Commons - but only on condition it is put to the people.
Other key speakers tomorrow will include Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, Lord Michael Heseltine, the former deputy Prime Minister, and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. The People’s Vote campaign, which has organised the event, is predicting a high turnout with more than 200 coaches and even a specially-chartered train to take demonstrators to London for the march from Park Lane to Parliament Square.
But it is Mr Watson’s presence tomorrow – where he will say he is “proud to be marching” – that will electrify the rally after several months of doubt about whether his party will implement its conference policy of campaigning for a new public vote when other options have been exhausted.
Labour’s deputy leader will emphasise he came to this view “reluctantly” and recognise the concerns of those who voted Leave in 2016, but warn they have been let down by almost three years of broken promises and incompetence, saying:
“Millions of people voted for Brexit and many more millions of people - their jobs, their livelihoods and their public services - are going to be directly affected by this crisis. I know lots of them because I represent them in Parliament and I am determined to do the right thing by them now.
“Everyone in this country has been let down by this Brexit process; people who voted to leave, people who voted to stay, people who didn’t vote or were too young to vote.”
And he will set out a clear path forward to resolve the crisis, saying:
“So now, at the 11th hour and the 59th minute, Parliament has now got to get this right for everyone. First, we need to stop the PM forcing this deeply unpopular broken Brexit deal on us. After years of incompetence and broken promises, it's plainly obvious that whatever she tries to foist on us will not meet the promises made for Brexit, will include costs we never knew about in 2016, and still won't settle the issue for years to come.
“Brexit is currently stuck in the pipework of Parliament, with MPs split, completely unable to agree or find a way forward. The current impasse is not working for people who voted to leave or people who voted to stay. I really don’t think Parliament will be able to resolve this.
“That’s why I’ve come to the reluctant view that the only way to resolve this and have legitimacy in the eyes of the public is for the people themselves to sign it off. It can only bring closure if we're all involved in making the decision. It can only begin to bring the country back together again if we all have a final say – and then live with the result.
“So, I have an explicit message for Theresa May: I will vote for your deal or a revised deal you can agree with my party. I will help you get it over the line to prevent a disastrous no deal exit. But I can only vote for your deal - or any deal - if you let the people have a vote on it too.
“That's why I'm proud to be marching. I trust the people I represent. And only they can sort this mess out.”