From Ros Altmann:economist and pensions,
    investment and retirement policy expert

  • pensionsandsavings.com

    There is no democratic mandate for a No Deal Brexit

    There is no democratic mandate for a No Deal Brexit

    Forcing through a No Deal Brexit would be a betrayal of our democracy.

    The Referendum result does not give the Government a mandate to leave without a Deal and did not specify any particular Brexit date. The Leave campaign promised more free trade deals and more money to spend on our priorities. It certainly did not state that we would leave without any Deal at all, with all the risks for our society, economy and prosperity.

    For the past three years, the Government has tried to honour the 2016 Referendum result, which was based on the premise that leaving the EU would make us better off and bolster our national sovereignty – so we would be entirely governed by our own Parliament. As Parliament is unable to approve the terms for departure and has consistently rejected leaving without a Deal, forcing the country to leave on 31st October without a deal would be riding roughshod over the express will of Parliament. That undermines our democracy, rather than restoring it.

    Extreme Brexiteers try to claim the British people must accept leaving with or without a deal, because this honours the 2016 Referendum result, but that is just not true. 17.4million people did not vote for No Deal.

    The Chancellor plans to spend billions of pounds in preparing for No Deal., even though all official forecasts and business pronouncements indicate this would be extremely damaging to the economy, business and jobs. Why would any responsible Government spend huge sums on a project that will make our country poorer, especially when Parliament has voted against it?

    MPs who are signing up to No Deal seem to believe the risk of chaos may be worth taking because they are protecting their Party against the threat of a Corbyn Government, which would be even worse for the country. But surely forcing No Deal Brexit is far more likely to hasten a Labour Government (especially as they would probably fight an election under a new leader). The Tories’ reputation as the responsible party of business, which can be trusted with the economy, would be in tatters.

    MPs have rejected No Deal time and again – with Parliamentary votes in January, March  and July 2019. Ignoring the express will of Parliament is what one might expect from tin-pot dictatorships, rather than democratic Governments who claim to be restoring power and sovereignty to Parliament. Britain is supposed to be governed by the decisions of the majority of MPs, not by a minority group that decides to over-ride the Commons votes.

    No Deal was not the mandate on which the Leave campaign won the support of the majority of UK voters. The impacts of No Deal Brexit were not presented to the public, so they cannot be said to have supported such an outcome. People were not told leaving the EU meant we could lose all our free trade agreements and risk the break-up of the United Kingdom because of problems with the Irish border, nor were they warned of the problems created for the automotive, agriculture, food, aviation, transport and services sectors.

    In addition to Parliament opposing No Deal, since 2016, the majority of British voters have also indicated they do not want to leave without a deal. Successive elections since the Referendum have seen the majority of British voters support parties that are against No Deal.

    • In the 2017 General Election, 53.2% supported Parties that opposed a No Deal Brexit and only 45.1% voted for the Conservatives, DUP or UKIP who might support it.
    • In the 2018 Local Elections, parties that would accept a No Deal Brexit lost 158 council seats, while those parties clearly opposed to leaving without a deal gained 162.
    • In the 2019 EU Elections, 54.4% of voters supported parties opposed to No Deal Brexit and only 44% backed the Brexit Party, Conservatives or UKIP which would accept No Deal.

    The Government needs to stop this irresponsible game of bluff and pursue a more sensible course.

    The EU will not drop the backstop, it is there to uphold the Good Friday Agreement and the integrity of the EU itself. The Single Market and Customs Union are the only realistic means to protect the frictionless border without checks. There is no other known way to keep an open border in Ireland. The EU does not want us to stay in the backstop, and has compromised in order to offer what it can to respect the UK’s demands. And if the Brexiteers really do have a technological solution that can be introduced, the backstop will not be a problem.

    The UK decided to leave the EU, but always said we would want to stay close partners with a good ongoing relationship. That will not happen with a No Deal departure. We seem to be declaring economic war on our nearest neighbours. If the Government cannot find a responsible way forward, it must find a democratic solution, rather than trying to over-ride democracy for its own ends.

    One such solution would be to go back to the British people in a new Referendum to check what the majority want to do now. Politicians would be respecting the views of the nation and allowing people the chance, as any democracy should be able to do, to change their minds in light of new information. That would be the most sensible and democratic way to proceed.

    Summary of Election Results since 2016 Referendum:

    2017 General Election

    Voted for parties that would accept No Deal Brexit 45.1%
    Voted for parties opposed to No Deal Brexit 53.2%


    2019 EU Elections

    Voted for parties that would accept No Deal 44.0%
    Voted for parties opposed to No Deal Brexit 54.4%



    General Election results 8 June 2017

    Conservative 13,536,684 42.4%
    UKIP 594,068 1.8%
    DUP 292,316 0.9%
    14,423,068 45.1%
    Labour 12,877,918 40.0%
    LibDem 2,371,861 7.4%
    SNP 977,568 3.0%
    Green 525,665 1.6%
    Plaid Cymru 164,466   0.5%
    Sinn Fein 238,915   0.7%
    17,156,393 53.2%
    Electorate 46,843,896   Turnout 68.7%


    Local election Results 3 May 2018 

    Party Councillors   Votes  
    Number Change     Number Share
    Labour 2,353 +79       3,154,753       41.2%
    Conservative 1,332 -35 2,444,204 31.9%
    Liberal Democrat 542 +76 1,067,660 13.9%
    Green 39 -8 500,580 6.5%
    UKIP 3 -123 101,866 1.3%


      Won/Lost Total Seats
    Accept No Deal (Conservative, UKIP) -158 1335
    Against No Deal (Labour, LibDem, Green) +162 2926


    2019 EU Election Results:       54.4% voted against No Deal

    Party % of vote
    Lib Dem 20.3%
    Labour 14.1%
    Greens 12.1%
    SNP 3.6%
    ChangeUK 3.4%
    Plaid Cymru 0.9%


    TOTAL for parties against No Deal 54.4%
    Brexit 31.6%
    Conservative 9.1%
    UKIP 3.3%
    TOTAL for No Deal parties 44.0%

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