"This Council calls on the Government to hold a further referendum before exiting the European Union" - Cllr angela wilkinsRead Now
This is a cross-party issue, so I am going to open by quoting Harold Macmillan who, when asked what he most feared, replied: “events dear boy, events”.
This reply in response to being asked “What do you most fear?”
How appropriate that resonates.
I voted to remain, and despite not liking the result of the vote, I respected and accepted it for the first few months. It is the course of events since then that scares me most and that leads to this motion.
On 23 June 2016 the UK voted, albeit by a very small margin, to leave the EU. Our Borough, albeit by an even smaller margin, voted to remain. The country is bitterly divided.
But in June 2016, we’d heard from various politicians and media commentators, not one of whom had any real idea what Brexit would actually look like.
The referendum campaign was awful – full of people who voted in response to a campaign of contradictions, speculation and (putting it mildly) misinformation from both sides.
Setting aside resignations and arguments from the government.
This is putting it mildly – downright lies might be a more accurate description when you consider the famous bus promising £350m per week for the NHS. Events since then include :
This adds up to exerting influence beyond the limits of the law. Spending in elections in the UK is limited simply and solely to stop wealth exerting undue influence.
So, the referendum campaign was not frank & honest and did not comply with our own electoral law.
In the absence of accurate information, my view, I think most people voted with their hearts and not their heads – for ‘taking back control (great slogan – empty rhetoric), for an end to free movement and for an end to very large payments being made to Brussels.
No one who voted to Leave knew exactly what they were voting for – realistically they couldn’t because no country has ever left the EU, no country has ever negotiated an exit deal nor left the EU without one.
It was all a bit like asking someone who has lived all their life in leasehold or rented accommodation if they’d like to own their own freehold detached property:
Of course they’d say yes they’re interested – but, before buying the property they’d want to view it, to have legal searches done, check how much the bills come to, have a survey done to make sure it’s a sound building.
And to know exactly how much they have to pay now and in the future.
And many would pull back once they knew the answer to these questions – not necessarily staying in their old home, but perhaps looking for something different.
Once we know the details of leaving the EU we need a further referendum in just the same way as someone buying a house needs to know more before contracts are exchanged and the sale completed.
Turning to Bromley: Democracy depends on an educated electorate. 15 months on we may not know what Brexit would look like, but we do know a whole lot more about some of the ramifications.
Even setting aside what has happened since the referendum, It is far more appropriate now for this Council to consider its position than it was when we voted in this chamber in 2016.
In April 2016 we didn’t know how our residents would vote in June – we voted on personal opinions.
Events change things and the public momentum for a further vote is growing by the day
We know from the poll on Bromley High St just ten days ago that 81% of people want a further referendum.
We are elected representatives. Part of our job is to represent. Where our wards voted differently to us, we are in a similar position to many MPs.
We can vote for ourselves tonight or we can vote for our residents.
“Events, dear Madam Mayor, events…”
Much has changed since we voted on the UKIP motion; tonight this council should review the vote we took here in 2016.
Theresa May have amused her party conference, but she is not the Dancing Queen of the EU.
We need to know whether her version of Brexit – whether its Chequers, the Canada option, no deal (effectively “Take a chance on me” ) – is what those who voted Leave in June 2016 thought they were voting for.
There is no way to judge the “Will of the People” on the most important decision of their lives without asking whether they accept Brexit’s destination rather than just its departure point.
We need to call on the government to hold a further referendum before we exit the EU.
Councillor Angela Wilkins