Brexit: May’s plan is doomed so we must act to prevent disaster – George Foulkes

Theresa May's Brexit deal will inevitably be voted down by MPs so it is important to prevent that vote leading to a disastrous no-deal Brexit (Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
Theresa May's Brexit deal will inevitably be voted down by MPs so it is important to prevent that vote leading to a disastrous no-deal Brexit (Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
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Last week was one of the most fraught ever in the UK Parliament. This week promises even greater turmoil over Brexit.

However, it is important to ignore the sideshow of the increasingly blatant bids for power by over-ambitious Tories and concentrate on the central issue.

David Cameron foolishly thought a referendum could be won easily and would fix the increasingly deep split in the Tory party. The Brexiteers were as surprised by the result and had no plan, and cowardly Cameron fled the scene.

It was left to the hapless Theresa May to try to do the impossible task of squaring a circle. It is now inevitable that when her plan is put to the Commons in December it will be defeated.

So, where does that leave us?

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It is incumbent on all of us who oppose the plan not just to jeer from the touchline but to put forward an alternative scenario.

One option, favoured by the hard Brexiteers, is to let us drift out without any agreement. That would, by all reports, be a disaster of epic proportions.

There have been constant accounts of lorry parks on the M20, shortages of food and medicines as well as leaving EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens on the Continent in limbo.

So, ruling that out, what should we now do? Parliament itself has the power to decide to stop the Brexit process and seek to remain in the EU.

However, given that the process was started by an, albeit close, vote in the referendum, it is now generally felt that it can only be stopped by another referendum or “People’s Vote” as it is now known.

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The campaign for a People’s Vote has been gathering momentum. More and more MPs of all parties are coming behind it, as are trades unions, civic organisations and others.

The time has now come for all the Opposition party leaders – Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid and Green – to get together, in good faith, and agree to support a referendum that allows the people, now they know the terms of Mrs May’s deal, to choose between that and continued membership of the EU.

It would take less than six months to get the legislation through Parliament and conduct the referendum, under stricter rules than last time, and former Belgian PM and Commission President, Herman van Rompuy, confirmed today what other European leaders have said that they would accept a delay in the process to allow this to go ahead.

We have a duty and a responsibility to pursue this option.

George Foulkes is a Labour Life Peer and former MP and MSP