Tom Brake: Attitudes to Brexit have shifted. We need a public vote on the deal

Even though David Davis and I don’t agree on many things, we do agree on this (which he said in a speech on the EU in 2012): “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”


Davis’ infamous quote now seems more relevant than ever, as the latest poll backs a public vote if the UK secures No Deal with the EU.

The BMG Research poll for Left Foot Forward showed that a majority of the public now backs a referendum on staying in the EU, if the government fails to secure a trade deal.

The majority is even deeper amongst 18-24-year-olds: 74% back a vote and as many as two-thirds believe ‘Brexit should be stopped’.

These results are not surprising as, so far in the negotiations, Theresa May has disregarded the hopes, dreams and aspirations of 16 million citizens, including the people whose lives Brexit will affect the most: the younger generation.

75 percent of younger people voted for a different future – a future in the EU. In the weeks and months ahead, the Government’s exclusive stance needs to change.

What’s become clear is that, as the true implications of Brexit unfold, people are starting to question the Brexit decision.

A decision which will deliver none of the main promises of the ‘Leave’ campaign and cause so much damage to people’s jobs, the NHS, the economic stability of the country and the work, study and retirement opportunities of millions of people.

We now know that there won’t be an extra £350 million per week for the NHS or dozens of Free Trade Agreements ready to be signed when we leave the EU.

We also know that immigration will not be reduced to the tens of thousands, that the Government will continue to be subject to the rulings of the ECJ or other International Courts of Arbitration and that we will not have the same economic benefits outside of the EU as we currently enjoy inside.

There appears to be a growing consensus that, if we cannot stay in the EU (the Liberal Democrats still believe this is the best option for UK families and jobs), we need a deal that keeps us as close to the EU Single Market and Customs Union as possible.

Our children’s futures must not be ruined by the hallucinogenic vision of the Brexit elite who, from the safety of their stately homes or large bank balances, want to leave the EU, regardless of the damage to our economy, the lives of the ‘just about managing’ and our political standing in the world.

If David Davis meant what he said about democracy, he and the rest of the Government would let the public have control over this process.

That is why the Liberal Democrats will continue to push for the Government to give the British people the final say on the deal, with an option to ‘Exit from Brexit’ and to remain in the EU. Anything less will be a kick in the teeth for our democracy.

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