Who would ever thought the day would come when Nigel Farage would be arguing, just like the Lib Dems, for a second referendum on leaving the EU? As much as we vehemently disagree with his politics, there is no denying that he has been a successful advocate for his cause over the years. His announcement may have just been a way of attracting some headlines, but if he did genuinely commit to a second referendum it might just make the likelihood of another vote a little stronger.
Farage’s motivations are obviously very different to those of us who want to remain in the EU. He has floated the idea of a second vote to ‘finish the whole thing off’ by increasing the Brexiteer’s majority. The Lib Dems take a very different position. We don’t want a simple re-run of June 2016. We want voters to have their say on whether to accept whatever deal the government agrees with the EU later this year. This would not be a second referendum on leaving the EU, it would be a first referendum on the deal, with the option to remain once it has become clear what the reality of Brexit really means.
What can I do?
In the meantime, there is much work to be done - a referendum on the deal is the end point. There are lots of things that each individual can do to make a small difference. Those small differences can add together to make a big change. So what can you do to increase the chances of an exit from Brexit?
A second referendum won’t happen unless Parliament is convinced that this is the right way forward. Don’t underestimate the impact that constituents’ views have upon their MPs. So email, write to or - best of all - go and see your MP at one of their surgeries. You can even go along to the Central Lobby of the Houses of Parliament without an appointment and ask whether your MP is available to speak there and then. If they aren’t, they will be told that you made the effort to go and see them.
Tell them what you think about Brexit. Tell them about how it will impact upon you, your family, your friends and your colleagues. Tell them why you want your say on the final deal. It really does work. Ultimately they face losing their job if they vote against the wishes of those who elect them. There are Labour and Conservative MPs who have already defied their party whips to vote on Brexit in accordance with the views that they have heard from their constituents.
You can make a difference just talking to family and friends or by sharing positive articles and posts on social media. As someone heavily involved or interested in politics it is easy to forget that most people don’t have the time to follow the details of the twists and turns in Westminster and Brussels as closely as we might. Talk to them about how Brexit will affect them: the cost of living will go up; jobs will be lost; austerity will inevitably continue into the distant future; and we will lose thousands of essential workers in key industries and services, not least the NHS. Make the positive case for all that is good about the EU - talk about the rights and freedoms we stand to lose if we leave.
If you want to get more actively involved, come and campaign with the Lib Dems. There are local elections taking place in May 2018. What better chance to show the Conservatives and Labour that you cannot support them whilst they work together to bring about a damaging hard Brexit? There is plenty you can do to help, from stuffing envelopes at home, delivering leaflets or to speaking to voters on the doorstep. Get in touch if you want to join in.
Corbyn supports a hard Brexit
If the Labour Party wanted a second referendum it wouldn’t take much pressure from them to make it very likely to happen. Those who voted Labour in June last year believing it was the best way to stop Brexit will be bitterly disappointed as Labour’s pro-Brexit stance becomes more and more apparent.
Recent polls have shown that Labour voters are overwhelmingly in support of remaining in the Single Market. Yet Jeremy Corbyn continues to (wrongly) insist that this is not possible outside the EU and to whip his MPs into supporting a Tory hard Brexit. It won’t be a surprise if Labour’s policy shifts in favour of remain after public opinion clearly moves in favour of a second referendum. That is why it is so important to carry on loudly making the case for remain.
We won’t give up!
One thing that Farage is right about is that those of us who passionately believe in the benefits of remaining in the EU will ‘never ever, ever give up’. The Lib Dems will remain at the forefront of that ongoing battle to stop the catastrophic damage that will be done to our country if we continue on the path towards Brexit.