Brexit museum a tad premature?
Planning a Brexit museum may seem to many a tad premature.
After the vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, Theresa May formally started the process of leaving the block by activating Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March 2017. However, one year on some prominent figures are still saying it can be reversed.
Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis writing in the Huffington Post says Brexit can and must be reversed.
He said that it cannot be anti-democratic by definition, as some Brexiteers claim, to offer the public a say on the terms of withdrawal.
"In fact, it is in keeping with our democratic tradition – every few years the people are given the opportunity to change their minds in the shape of a general election. Why should it be any different when it comes to one of the greatest constitutional changes our country has faced for decades? After all, there was a two-year interval between the last two general elections (2015 and 2017); a referendum in 2019 would be three years after the last one.
"This would not be a re-run of the 2016 referendum. The terms of Brexit could not be discussed then, still less agreed by the people, because they did not exist. They had to be negotiated first. That’s why a referendum on those terms is so necessary. Without one, the people will not have their say on the whole economic and political system which the government is proposing to replace our existing membership of the European Union."
Former British prime minister Tony Blair agrees. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Blair, who was PM from 1997 to 2007, said: “I think it’s more likely we can stop it now than a few months ago.
“I always say to people the likelihood is it happens, but it doesn’t have to happen, and the first place that’s going to decide it is Parliament and MPs should vote according to their conscience.”
Technically speaking, legal commentators and Donald Tusk (president of the European Council) have said that Article 50 is capable of being reversed, but the issue remains controversial and Brexit Minister David Davis has said he “doesn’t know” if this is indeed the case.
Phase One of the negotiations ended in December, when it was agreed there would be no hard border in Ireland, and that the whole of the UK would leave the customs union. EU residents who have lived in the UK for five years at the time of exit will also be allowed to stay.
Earlier this month, the UK also agreed a 21-month ‘transition period’ after the official Brexit date, but some questions still remain. For example, there remains uncertainty as to what will happen to the EU Charter of Rights, which offers personal data protection, as well as safeguards for workers, the elderly and LGBT+ people.
The allegations that Vote Leave broke electoral law during the campaign have added to demands for a re-run. Two pro-Brexit whistleblowers, Christopher Wylie and Shahmir Sanni, have backed Fair Vote UK, which is demanding a new referendum.
A recent YouGov poll suggests that the public back this stance. The survey, commissioned by the anti-Brexit Best for Britain, shows that 44 per cent believe the public should have the “final say” on whether the UK remains in the EU, while 38 per cent believe it should not. However, other polls have suggested Leave would win by a similar margin. Neither Labour nor a significant number of Tory MPs back a new referendum.
Nevertheless, there's clearly much work to do and many influential people to get on board which means talk of a museum at this stage is a waste of valuable debating time.