The divisions tearing at the fabric of the United Kingdom have not been this pronounced since Suez; neighbours, friends and even relatives have found relationships strained – in some cases to the point of not talking. It is unsurprising that these social fissures are reflected at a political level with Westminster in a state of complete paralysis, devoid of imagination or apparent competence. Given that the consequences of Brexit will be huge and those tasked with its negotiation are increasingly moribund, the demand for a People’s Vote is inescapable.
By its own red lines, the British Government has abjectly failed in the Brexit negotiations and Parliament has prolonged the process. It is shocking to watch a government withdraw its flagship policy in the certain knowledge of a total defeat. Add to the situation an insidious leadership challenge and open ministerial jockeying, the sense of British decline is palpable. On the Prime Minister goes seemingly deaf to the howls behind her, fury in front and bemusement abroad. Against this background, the term ‘constitutional crisis’ understates the seriousness of the situation, highlighting the need to break the stasis that could see the United Kingdom fall out the EU with no deal. A People’s Vote would return the Brexit question to its legitimate and original source; The British public. A vote is the only way to overcome the rife constitutional divisions, properly assess how Brexit has developed and whether the promises made in the first referendum had a solid base.
Treasury forecasts and Bank of England models have unanimously found that Britain will be a poorer place following Brexit, but the most critical consequences can not be measured in GDP alone – peace in Northern Ireland, the ability to travel freely across Europe, a set of standards and rights that protect all European Citizens. The tangible benefits of Union membership will prove more valuable than the theoretical dreams of a regulation free Britain. It is amazing that in the vilification of shared sovereignty, no domestic media has ever inquired into those Member States who find themselves enhanced by it. When the UK comes to negotiate the future trade relationship, the entire European Union will back a single Member State with a particular interest – fishing rights, Gibraltar and medical research funding are just three examples. The full impact of third country status has not been realised yet and politicians have not been honest about what it will require. It is essential that the people are given a final vote before deciding on a major change of direction.
A People’s Vote is the embodiment of a living democracy and is only opposed by those Brexit fundamentalists who know their arguments have melted in the heat of negotiation. It is democratically and constitutionally consistent to ask the British people for their assent to whatever the next steps are and I would suggest the only way to heal the divisions of an electorate that now clearly favours remaining in the European Union.
The chaos of the Brexit process has shown inherent weaknesses in British statecraft. A reputation of caution, balance and competence has given way to Brexit fundamentalists who attack constantly but never offer an alternative. Britain is too important a nation to stagger out of a union that has provided growth and stability for 40 years. It is critical that whatever the Government brings back, a People’s Vote gives the final decision.
Julie Girling MEP has won a top award, voted on by her peers, for her work on countryside issues. At the Annual Awards in Brussels, organised by Parliament Magazine, Julie was named MEP of the Year for her work on Agriculture and Rural Business Development.
The European Parliament was invited to vote to decide which MEP had made the greatest impact on key aspects including animal health and welfare, product quality and food security.
Mrs Girling, Conservative MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, was praised for her longstanding support of better animal welfare and for her successful management the Parliament’s position on National Emissions Ceilings, helping to deliver tough new targets aimed at reducing air pollution and cutting premature deaths from poor air quality. She was also recognised for her recent report on guidelines to improve the welfare of the EU’s seven million horses and donkeys.
After receiving her award Mrs Girling said: “I am truly honoured. When the recognition comes from your fellow MEPs it really means something.”
“I have always tried to do my best for the countryside, for animal welfare, for farming and for the environment, which can be a difficult balancing act – so it is nice to receive a little pat on the back.”
I strongly believe that Gibraltar’s specific needs must be carefully considered in the ongoing discussions about the UK’s departure from the EU and the subsequent negotiations over our future relationship. Gibraltar has unique issues which must be taken into account as we move forward in these difficult discussions. I have previously called for a specific […]
Why we have a zero tolerance policy on female genital mutilation Recently there have been investigations into girls being taken out of the UK to locations abroad for female genital mutilation (FGM), the brutal practice of cutting away parts of young girls for non-medical reasons. Seen as a religious, social and cultural tradition, it’s rife […]
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