Friday 14 December 2018

Another referendum with the Tories still in charge would be a disastrous gamble with the nation's future

Theresa May's Brexit shambles is so hopelessly dead in the water that she's demonstrably terrified of putting it before a parliamentary vote.

In my view the only sensible course of action once it collapses for good is to stop the clock ticking by scrapping the Article 50 deadline by revoking Article 50 in accordance with the ECJ ruling that the UK parliament can do this without fear of retribution, or by asking the EU for an Article 50 extension to sort out Theresa May's mess (as suggested by the Irish taoiseach).

The British public should then be presented with a repeat referendum with two choices: "cancel Brexit" vs "back to square one and try again" but a sensible choice like this is impossible with the Tories.

A second referendum with Theresa May and her incompetent bunch of Tory charlatans still running the show would be an inevitable disaster.

The big (and very obvious) risk with a second referendum (no matter who is in government) is that it could end up creating a completely inescapable double-mandate for Brexit.

If the Tories were to remain in power during a re-run of the 2016 EU referendum, it's beyond obvious that a parade of Tory Brextremist government ministers actively promoting a "no deal" meltdown would add to the ultra-nationalist frenzy and make a repeat Brexit vote significantly more likely.

And what's more if the Tories were still in charge, the Brexit that this double-mandate would set in stone would either be Theresa May's shambolic and almost universally unpopular deal, or an even more ruinous "no deal" meltdown, with absolutely no chance of escape from one or other of these dreadful options.

At least a Labour/progressive coalition government faced with an inescapable double-mandate for Brexit would be able to scrap Theresa May's bad faith threat-based negotiation position into the dustbin of history, go "back to square one", and try for something less harmful to the national interest than either of the absolutely woeful options she's left us with.

The other glaring problem with leaving the Tories in charge during a repeat of the EU referendum is that it would result in a continuation of ruinous Tory austerity dogma whatever the outcome.

It's beyond obvious that we're only in this appalling position in the first place because hard-right Brextremists weaponised the devastating austerity-related collapse in living standards since 2010 by pinning the blame on immigrants and the EU, rather than on the Westminster politicians who were actually to blame for imposing years of wage repression, devastating public service cuts, under-investment in infrastructure and housing, and ideologically driven attacks on the social safety net.

Even if Remain campaigners somehow managed to overcome the disadvantage of Brextremist Tory government ministers openly extolling the virtues of a "no deal" meltdown to overturn the 2016 Brexit vote, what's the point if the Tories who are entirely responsible for the Brexit farce are left free to continue enforcing the very same malicious, poverty-spreading, wage-repressing, public service-trashing ideological nonsense that caused the Brexit vote in the first place?

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