Letter to my MP asking him to back a #PeoplesVote

I just sent this to my MP, Mark Harper, via the WriteToThem web-site.

Dear Mark Harper,

As I write, the broad outlines of the withdrawal agreement reached between UK and EU negotiators are apparent. Assuming that this agreement survives Cabinet, it will be put to the Commons for a vote. I am writing to urge you to reject the agreement, which bears no relation to anything that we were promised in campaigning before the Brexit referendum.

Please do not brush this off with a reference to “the will of the people” or “implementing the result of the referendum”. We can leave aside the multiple findings of outright illegal behaviour by the Leave campaign — this is irrelevant at the moment. What matters is the simple fact that what is now on the table is not the thing that 52% of us thought we were voting for. To push this emasculating compromise through — or, worse yet, to leave with no deal at all — would not in any sense be to implement the wishes of the 52%. In fact, the developments of the last 28 months have shown that there is no way for the wishes of the 52% to be implemented in anything like the form that was voted for.

This being so, it seems to me that the only democratic course is to lay before the electorate the options that actually exist, in a referendum on the exit terms. We now know at last the deal the EU will accept for our exit. We also have the options of leaving with no deal at all; or of remaining in the EU. With these three options now capable of clear articulation, the only way to conclude a process that began in democracy is with more democracy — a referendum to select from these three options.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Mike Taylor.

If you feel similarly, I urge you to write to your own MP. It doesn’t take long: the WriteToThem site is very streamlined.

Update (14 November)

An automatic reply:

The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP
Member of Parliament for the Forest of Dean
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
http://www.markharper.org
http://www.facebook.com/mark.harper.fod
Follow me: @Mark_J_Harper

Thank you for your email.

This is an automated response to confirm receipt of your email, which you will receive each time you contact my office.

We aim to respond to all correspondence as quickly as possible and do appreciate your patience. I receive many requests for assistance from constituents and they are dealt with in order of receipt, unless of an urgent nature.

[some boilerplate snipped]

I’ll await the real one, and let you all know when it arrives.

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10 responses to “Letter to my MP asking him to back a #PeoplesVote

  1. “Please do not brush this off with a reference to “the will of the people” or “implementing the result of the referendum””

    Please do not use arguments I personally disagree with. No matter how terrifyingly compelling.

    “the simple fact”

    The simple opinion

    “would not in any sense be to implement the wishes of the 52%.”

    I imagine. Except for the bit about leaving the EU. Which it would achieve with a 100 percent success rate.

    “a referendum to select from these three options.”

    Which will split the leave vote, but not the remain vote. I have ignored any fourth options, such as explicitly pursuing greater federalisation or choosing to join the Euro, that would not help my cause.

  2. @rjubber I thought I made a pretty solid case that what is presently on the table does not represent “the will of the people”. At least, of the Leave-voters I know, certainly none of them gave their vote on the basis of expecting anything like the offered deal. (And we know for sure that David Davis and Boris Johnson didn’t). I suppose there could be people out there we voted for a state where Northern Ireland is kind of in the single market but not completely and the whole UK is under the rules of the Customs Union but not able to influence those rules and with no timetable for when that will change. If there are, I’ve not met them, not read about them, not seen them in the media and not heard from them on Twitter.

    Hence my use of the phrase “the simple fact that what is now on the table is not the thing that 52% of us thought we were voting for”. Are you seriously arguing that it is?

    You are right that a three-way referendum would be vulnerable to splitting the Leave vote (though it’s also true that it would be vulnerable to splitting the “don’t leave without a deal” vote). The exact nature of such a referendum would need more thought — and more words than I wanted to spill on what was intended to be a brief, to the point note that my MP would read all the way through.

  3. “I thought I made a pretty solid case that what is presently on the table does not represent “the will of the people” ”

    You see – this is where we differ substantially – and I think I may disagree with a number of people (usual disclaimer – I voted Remain). I don’t think this case has been made at all. It all stems from the conclusion that the people voted purely on the basis of the different campaigns. I don’t think after more than four decades of being in the EU, people were blank canvases for the campaigns to write on. I think most people went in to the referendum with their minds either entirely or mostly made up. Perhaps the campaigns swayed ten percent of the populace – I couldn’t possibly make an educated guess – but you’re presupposing the campaigns reached and affected everybody. I don’t think that’s the case at all.

    Of course both of our hypotheses are extremely hard to test, after the fact.

  4. The thing on the table, at it’s root, is to not be in the EU. If we’re not in the EU, then a big chunk of the 52 percent got exactly what they wanted. The nature of that deal is the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

  5. It’s simple. There should be a two-option Referendum: the deal on offer, or leave with no deal.

    I suspect you’d find that the public have more guts than Mrs May, and wouldn’t be bullied into ‘Remain in all but name’.

    Of course the actual answer is that there won’t be a second referendum because there isn’t time to sort out details such as, what would the question be? Coming up with a question that could get through the House of Commons would take weeks of negotiations. And that’s before you even start on the franchise (Remainers will want EU citizens given the vote, for example, and might make another play for children to be allowed to vote like they did last time).

    And that’s only the problem with those who agree there should be a second referendum but disagree on the details! Add in the MPs who just object to a second referendum on principle and so will just do whatever will cause most trouble and waste most time (and there are lots of ways for MPs to waste time) and you’re talking actual months of Parliamentary time. You probably couldn’t even pass Referendum Bill II: Revenge of the Neverendum, if it even passed, before the end of March, let alone pass it, select the official campaign organisations, run the vote, etc etc.

    And at the end of all that if Leave wins again (which it would) the Remainers will just claim that people were hoodwinked a second time and the whole tedious business would begin all over again.

    So no, won’t happen.

  6. I think you’re right about the practical barriers to a referendum on the leaving terms, especially the opportunity for those opposed to effectively filibuster it. It would require strong leadership from the Speaker to prevent that — and that in itself might be seen as political. But it presently looks like the least worst of the possible options, nevertheless.

    On the other hand, I think if Leave won again, even now so many more people understand what that would mean, then it would put the issue to bed.

  7. Theory: the reason May has been so keen to talk about the possibility of ‘no Brexit’ of late is that her surrender for getting through Parliament is to threaten MPs that if they don’t vote for it, she will (somehow) force through legislation for a second referendum between ‘remain’ and ‘no deal’, in the hopes of scaring both Remainers who are afraid of no deal and Leavers who are afraid of leaving.

  8. Pingback: Follow-up letter to my MP repeating my request that he back a #PeoplesVote | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  9. Pingback: Third try: writing to my MP about Brexit | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  10. Pingback: A response from my MP on Brexit | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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