STEVE ANGLESEY on the contradictory views some of the biggest names in politics have had on a second Brexit vote.
United they may temporarily be on the May Deal, the Brady Amendment, the Malthouse Compromise and, for all we know, the Bourne Ultimatum, but Brexiteers can agree on one other thing: The People’s Vote is no longer a threat.
‘The Losers’ Vote has got remarkably little support,’ crowed Jacob Rees-Mogg the other day. Which is odd, since Rees-Mogg himself once supported a second referendum.
In fact, several of the loudest voices now insisting that a People’s Vote would bring chaos to the Commons and the country were previously in favour of returning to the ballot box to clarify the meaning of an earlier result. Let’s contrast what they said then with what they say now:
SAID THEN: On November 26 2002 the future Brexit secretary said this about a possible referendum on regional assemblies within England:
‘Referendums should be held when the electorate are in the best possible position to make a judgment. They should be held when people can view all the arguments for and against and when those arguments have been rigorously tested. In short, referendums should be held when people know exactly what they are getting…
‘We should not ask people to vote on a blank sheet of paper and tell them to trust us to fill in the details afterwards. For referendums to be fair and compatible with our parliamentary process, we need the electors to be as well informed as possible and to know exactly what they are voting for. Referendums need to be treated as an addition to the parliamentary process, not as a substitute for it.’
SAYS NOW: When asked by German newspaper Der Spiegel on January 11 ‘Would you ever favour a second referendum?’ Davis replied: ‘No, no, no. We’ve had the referendum and the outcome was clear.’
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
SAID THEN: Claimed in a Commons debate on June 3 1997 that Scotland and Wales should be given the option of second ballots on the terms of any deal following votes in favour of independence.
He said: ‘Surely only when the detailed legislation has been passed by the House can we go to the people and say to them, ‘Is this what you said you wanted? Because it does not work – or at least, some of us think that it does not – and here are the reasons why’.’
SAYS NOW: ‘You think the country is divided right now, you wait until you try and hold that second referendum,’ IDS told Radio Five Live on December 9 last year. ‘And I just caution you, look across the Channel [at the gilets jaunes protests]. We are not that far away from that kind of process happening here.’
SAID THEN: In a March 16 2016 Telegraph column widely interpreted as floating the idea of a second vote in the event of a Leave victory forcing concessions from Brussels, he wrote: ‘EU history shows that they only really listen to a population when it says ‘no’.’
SAYS NOW: Told the same paper on December 18 last year that a new referendum would cause ‘instant, deep and ineradicable feelings of betrayal’.
SAID THEN: Wrote on his blog on November 20 2012: ‘The idea would be for this government to put through a Bill requiring a mandate referendum on the EU issue.
The question would be: ‘Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?’…
‘The second referendum would follow once the negotiations were complete.
‘That would ask ‘Do you want to accept the new negotiated relationship with the EU or not? Voting no means withdrawing from the EU’.’
SAYS NOW: Wrote on his blog on December 12, 2018: ‘Any second referendum would be a clear violation of past promises, bad for trust in government and politics.’
SAID THEN: Brexit’s Professor Yaffle told the Commons on October 24 2011 that in the event of a future vote on EU membership, ‘We can, in our wisdom, work out how to phrase a referendum – or series of referendums, if necessary…
Indeed, we could have two referendums. As it happens, it might make more sense to have the second referendum after the renegotiation is completed.’
SAYS NOW: Told Sky News on December 12 last year that a People’s Vote ’would be ignoring the biggest democratic exercise this country ever had… Can politicians just say anything and do the reverse? Can they pile lies upon lies?’
In the strange case of Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Brexiteers who supported a second referendum before they opposed one, the answer to that appears to be a resounding ‘yes’.
Hat-tip to @buildingorderfc and @bydonkeys for research
No Brexiteers dared support Leave-backing hoover salesman James Dyson when he announced plans to move his corporate HQ to Singapore.
But he may have received a covert thumbs-up from joke-loving Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris, who tweeted on Tuesday: ‘My mate got one of those Dyson Ball Cleaners in the sales. Unfortunately, he misunderstood what it was for; which is why I’m now taking him to our local A & E.’
Some questioned why the David Brent of DExEU should be posting inane gags on the day of Westminster’s crucial amendment votes, but Heaton-Harris’ timing has not been great in the past.
Last July, in the hours between the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson, the then-whip tweeted to his 15,000 followers: ‘Phoned Seaworld earlier and before I could speak to anyone was asked to say: ‘Jump through this hoop.’ And ‘Do a flip’. Supposedly my call was recorded for training porpoises.’
Five minutes later, the quip was deleted, presumably when Heaton-Harris discovered he was being promoted to the Brexit ministry.
BREXITEERS OF THE WEEK
In a Sky News vox pop from Southampton, jewellery saleswoman Cara explained that she ‘narrowly voted to Leave’ but would have gone for Remain had she voted in Swansea, where she also does business.
In the Welsh city, she said, ‘I could see the benefits’ of EU investment. Whereas in Southampton ‘When you walked into the city centre you constantly heard Eastern European accents. You’d see beer cans with Eastern European writing by park benches’.
And that’s Brexit in a nutshell – who cares about Theresa May kicking the can down the road as long as the can in question isn’t Tyskie!
THE IRISH QUESTIONERS
Nigel Farage told Irish TV’s Claire Byrne Live ‘ultimately Ireland will leave the EU too’ and the Today programme’s John ‘unbiased’ Humphrys asked Ireland’s Europe minister Helen McEntee, ‘instead of Dublin telling this country that we have to stay in the single market etc within the customs union, why doesn’t Dublin, why doesn’t the Republic of Ireland, leave the EU and throw in their lot with this country?’
Alas for this very odd couple, the last big opinion poll on Irexit, held last May, showed 92% support for Remaining – although Brexit has gone so smoothly since then that the figure might now be closer to 99%…
The former fashion student who was fined £20,000 and reported to police for breaches of electoral law by his BeLeave campaign has attracted widespread derision for tweeting what he claims are the exact words of ‘a trade union friend talking about taking no-deal ‘off of the table”.
Grimes claims his chum said: ‘Whey aye man! I’ve never heard so much guff in all me life. It’s like walking into a pay negotiation with a business and telling them from the off that they needn’t bother as you’re not willing to strike anyway!’
Cynics think there is something a little fishy about Darren’s tale – in this case, a little fishy on a dishy which Grimes can tuck into once the boat comes in.
The Rayleigh and Wickford MP laid into Airbus CEO Tom Enders during a live television interview, accusing the anti-Brexit businessman of being ‘a German paratrooper in his youth’ (Enders was born in 1958) and continuing: ‘Mr Enders’ intervention is a classic example of the sort of Teutonic arrogance… My father Reginald Francois was a D-Day veteran, he never submitted to bullying by any German, neither will his son.’
That Mark doesn’t think much of reconciling with former enemies is remarkable given his family circumstances. His dad, a Royal Navy engineer, married his Italian mother after she arrived in the UK as an au pair in the early 1960s, presumably earning less than the £30,000 threshold Brexiteers like Francois are so keen on.