Public support for an independent inquiry into the impact of Brexit is surging just days before Parliament debates the issue following a successful petition.
A poll commissioned by pressure group the European Movement showed that almost 60% of the public either “definitely” or “probably” back a Brexit inquiry, while a petition started by regional group Leeds for Europe to demand just that has attracted more than 140,000 signatures, forcing a debate in Parliament this coming Monday (April 24).
The debate is being attended by MPs from all parties, including Tobias Ellwood of the Conservatives, Labour’s Clive Lewis, Liberal Democrat Layla Moran, Green Caroline Lucas, the SNP’s Alyn Smith and Liz Saville Roberts of Plaid Cymru.
Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP voters were the most enthusiastic in supporting the inquiry with around 80% of their voters backing the move. But 41% of Conservative voters also think the impact of Brexit should be subject to scrutiny, the exclusive polling from Onsisis for the European Movement revealed.
On December 5 last year, a government spokesperson responded to the petition: “The UK’s departure from the EU was a democratic choice and the UK-EU institutions are functioning as intended. The government does not believe this to be an appropriate subject for a public inquiry.”
But since the petition passed 100,000 signatures, it will now be debated in Parliament on Monday.
Ellwood, the chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee, said: “More and more people are questioning Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. What Parliament must realise is that this deal is up for review in 2025. Are we really going to say, ‘Nothing to see here?’
“What we need now is a balance of consequences review – an opportunity for stakeholders to review all the aspects and outcomes of Brexit. An inquiry is a crucial part of that review process and should be arranged as swiftly as possible.”
Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said the UK’s relationship with its European neighbours “clearly is not working on all fronts”.
He said: “Given the importance of this relationship to our small businesses, citizens, musicians, farmers, scientists and simply everyone – it more than makes sense to have a candid review of what needs to be addressed.
“Bluntly, the public do not trust the government to review & discuss the impacts of Brexit honesty and openly. We need an independent public inquiry to map out the impact so we can, collectively as a country, work out how to fix the myriad problems. The formal review of the UK-EU trade & cooperation agreement is coming up in just two years. Surely we want to be well prepared for that and not cluelessly stumble into those negotiations with our heads in the sand.”
And Moran, the Lib Dems’ spokesperson on Europe said that “the impact of the Conservative’s botched deal with Europe has been gargantuan”.
“Yet, while people are hurting, the Government has its fingers in its ears. That’s why we need an independent public inquiry to work out what’s gone wrong and how to repair it,” she said.
“It’s time to finally support all those caught up in the red tape and trade barriers erected by the Conservative government – and fix Britain’s broken relationship with Europe to get the economy growing again.”
Extraordinarily, three years after the UK formally left the EU, it will be the first time that MPs have had an opportunity to debate the impact of Brexit.
European Movement member Peter Packham, who started the petition, said: “A public inquiry into the impact of Brexit is crucial for our country and our democracy. The public has the right to know the outcome of this historic decision and our ability to move forward must be informed by the full knowledge of what has happened so far, what is likely to happen in the future and what steps must be taken to mitigate any negative impacts.
“Holding a full, independent Public Inquiry should not be a controversial request.”
The debate will take place in Westminster Hall from 4.30pm on Monday, April 24 and will be streamed here.
- Omnisis surveyed 1,340 people online on April 13