Brexit means total chaos. With just over 100 days until the UK is due to leave the European Union, British Prime Minister Theresa May now faces a no-confidence vote in her own party after 48 Tory MPs sent letters signalling they no longer support her as leader.
The leadership challenge caps a gruelling few days for the Prime Minister. Faced with the prospect of a humiliating defeat, May had postponed a vote in Parliament on her draft deal with the European Union. EU leaders are adamant that the agreed text is final and cannot be renegotiated (though they may be open to minor ‘clarifications’).
May argues that hers is the best deal Britain can get. However, her proposed agreement has come under fierce attack from all quarters, including from May’s allies in the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who have threatened to withdraw their support for the government if the deal goes ahead.
The opposition Labour party scents blood, and hopes they can use the chaos to collapse the government and force a general election. Yet even some critics of Theresa May worry that a combination of stark parliamentary arithmetic and the strictures of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act mean political paralysis is the most likely outcome; there doesn’t seem to be a majority for anything. If Theresa May survives, then the Conservative party cannot hold another leadership challenge for a year.
How long can Prime Minister May keep kicking the can down the road? At some point the road surely ends, as the default outcome (assuming no other plan is passed) is a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Is there a way to break the deadlock and reach agreement?
All this and Brexit hasn’t even started yet; we’re still only discussing the divorce deal and the so-called ‘backstop’. The real Brexit negotiations won’t start until after 29 March 2019, when the UK has (in theory) formally left the European Union. Most ordinary people are probably bored stiff of Brexit by this point, but we could still be talking about it for years to come.
Against the backdrop of political chaos, support is apparently growing for a so-called ‘People’s Vote’. Proponents argue that the only way to resolve things is to go back to the people by calling a second referendum on Brexit. They argue that the 2016 referendum was a simple ‘Yes’ / ‘No’ vote, and nobody knew what Brexit would actually look like in practice. Now we’ve all got a better idea (in the form of Theresa May’s proposed deal) supporters argue the people should be given a vote.
Critics of a second referendum argue it would make a mockery of democracy. The British people have already made their minds up to leave, so asking them again and again until they give the “right answer” is fundamentally undemocratic. Even some of those who supported Remain in 2016 worry that another referendum won’t resolve things if it results in a narrow defeat for one side or another, and will just intensify divisions and political paralysis.
Should there be a second Brexit referendum? Is it time for a ‘People’s Vote’? Or would holding another vote be an affront to democracy? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!