AMANDA CHETWYND-COWIESON reflects on polling which shows the public would rather a People’s Vote over trusting the politicians with a final decision on Brexit.
It’s widely accepted that our society and our politics has never been more divided. Not only is the current situation deeply damaging to the general mood of the country, it’s creating a breakdown in the long standing trust between our politicians and those they represent.
We know that this has happened in part because of Brexit. If we thought our country was divided three and a half years ago, right now it feels not just like it’s being split down the middle – but shattered into hundreds of pieces, with so many people wanting to take a totally different route. Parties have never been homogenous in their views – taking pride in the broad church united by a set of values. Sometimes now, it feels as though parties are having to consider whether those values that unite them are still there.
Labour – the party of internationalism, voting against campaigning to stay in the EU. The Conservatives, the party of business, ready to crash us out of the EU with no deal. It’s clear that no party is sure what it is the public wants them to do, and why should they know? The last sense check we had with the public on Europe was 3 and a half years ago, when our politics was wildly different and our image of what Brexit would look like unrecognisable from what’s in front of us now. Our politicians are being forced to play what amounts to an unwinnable guessing game with their voters, it’s easy to hear those shouting the loudest – but what about those who have sat at home simply watching events unfold? How could any of us really know what they want?
No one, even those in the same party, seems to be able to agree on what the best way forward is. That, more than anything, shows how we have deadlocked our political process. As parliament only appears more chaotic, and tensions only appearing to get higher, it’s clear that something must be done. The way forward must be democratic, transparent, and involve the people. There’s been three and a half years to try everything else, including a general election, and we know it hasn’t worked. The solution to our current deadlock in parliament must tackle the idea that our parliament is against the people, but should allow our MPs to put their trust in the people.
It’s clear the only sensible solution we have left is to have a confirmatory referendum. Many, including briefings from Downing Street, argue that this would divide our country further. That there would be civil unrest. There was even suggestion the prime minister may use the upcoming People’s Vote march to trigger the civil contingencies act and override parliament.
But one of the main reasons why we, the people, feel so frustrated over our current process is because of our lack of control. Because, whichever side of the debate we’re on, we feel that no one is listening. That the deadlock in parliament is a waste of time, that other issues important to us are being ignored. A referendum would solve these issues.
A People’s Vote would give those who still want Brexit as we know it now a chance to reiterate their views, it would give those who have changed their minds a chance to demonstrate that, and those still fervently in favour of Remain a chance to fight for a future in the EU. Most of all, parliament would know what people actually want, and could act on it, as opposed to the continued chaos that has now become normal. Arguments would be settled – not all of them, but enough to move forward.
MORE: Everything you need to know about the People’s Vote march on October 19Politics is frustrated, entangled, and potentially alienating for those at home. The best way to put people’s trust back into politics is to put politics back to the people. – Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson is the co-founder of the For our Future’s Sake (FFS) movement.