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Brexit: Islington Labour Party members debate People’s Vote

Dr Marina Prentoulis explains why Jeremy Corbyn must back a second referendum – as Robert Doyle fears another vote could bring an upsurge in nationalism

18 January, 2019 — By Dr Marina Prentoulis and Robert Doyle

Dr Marina Prentoulis, a senior lecturer in politics and media at the University of East Anglia, and a member of Islington North Labour Party

JEREMY Corbyn owes it to his Islington North constituency, to Labour members and to the people of the UK as a whole to back unambiguously Remain and a public vote. He owes it to EU nationals like me, who make his constituency a diverse, vibrant and inclusive place, to all of us who have been paying taxes in Islington North but were never given the opportunity to vote for what will radically affect our lives, to all EU nationals whose voice is hardly heard in this debate. He owes it to British nationals and EU nationals alike. He must give them a final say.

Brexit has always been a very bad idea. A bad idea dressed in imperial fantasies and misconceptions about the state of the world today. A bad idea sold by campaigns which breached electoral law and politicians like Boris in his well-rehearsed, buffoon-like innocence, who nevertheless didn’t hesitate to lie through his teeth about Brexit.

The 2016 referend­um itself has been nothing more than a smokescreen hiding the splits and power struggles within the Conservative Party. Since then, it has been a very damaging affair, splitting the country in two while offering nothing positive in return: economically, politically and cultur­ally all outcomes will see Britain worse off.

Losing jobs, the benefits of the customs union and the single market are only part of the damage. With diminished political influence in Europe and a toxic, xenophobic environment, Brexit will reduce Britain to a hostile, inward-looking island barely visible on the world map. After two-and-a-half years, after seeing the shambles that Brexit is, the people have the right (and the obligation) to speak out against this impeding catastrophe.

At this critical moment Jeremy Corbyn has to agree that the people of the UK have the right to have a public vote. This is not incompatible with the demand for a general election and is in line with the decision of the Labour Party conference last September.

It is the only way to create a more equit­able, just and progres­sive society when he comes to power. It is the only way if he takes democratic participation seriously.


‘Elite ignores us with call for re-run’

Robert Doyle, a member of Islington North Labour Party

AS above all else I am a believer in democracy, I think Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party should follow the wishes of the people as expressed in the referendum.

Much of the reason people voted to leave was because most of us have seen a fall in our standard of living and a reduction of life opp­ortunities over the past few decades. This has been ignored by govern­ments in London or Brussels.

When given a chance to express our wishes we see that yet again the “elite” ignore us and call for a re-run of the referendum, and add insult to injury by calling it a “People’s Vote”. Who voted in the referendum if it was not the people?

And what will the question be in a second referendum? In or out again? May’s deal or Remain? May’s deal or Leave with no deal?

It would not be surprising if a second referendum were to give rise to a good deal of apathy. “What’s the point of voting if they ignore us anyway” could be a common response. The turnout is likely to be smaller than in the first referendum, and the result, whatever it was, would have much less legitimacy and not resolve anything.

Only Parliament can get us out of the current mess, and if this Parlia­ment can’t, then let us have a general election.

The big problem of ignoring a democratic result is that it feeds anti-democratic forces. The first referendum has resulted in the capture of Ukip by the far right, and the rise of political violence.

Let us not forget the murder of Jo Cox.

A second referend­um could well see a very ugly surge in racist and nationalistic forces. In or out of the EU may make some difference to me econ­omically, but nothing worries me more than resurgent fascism.


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