Now the British public is fully aware of the consequences of Brexit, it’s clear they want a Final Say

Even if there was some grand Lab-Con coalition on Brexit, it would still need the approval and consent of the British people

People's Vote projects 'Put it to the people' onto Parliament

The public wish for a – satisfactory – conclusion to the Brexit process. This does not necessarily mean that they want a no-deal Brexit, nor that they approve of the prime minister’s unpopular deal. What it does mean is that they can see, perfectly obviously, that their MPs are unable to take that decision on their behalf – as they normally do in a representative democracy.

The voters, then, who have more to lose from the upcoming events than MPs with safe seats and decent pensions or ministers with lucrative directorships ahead of them, are prepared to take matters into their hands.

As our polling shows, more than ever they are demanding a Final Say on Brexit.

The truth is that parliament is inherently unable to make a choice – and for quite honourable reasons. The issue transcends and confuses party loyalties, up to and including the front benches. Parliamentary procedures long adapted to majority government cannot cope. Binary voting – ayes and noes – is unsuited to expressing preferences and finding consensus. More than anything the splits and narrow-squeak votes in parliament mirror those of a divided country, in fact surprisingly well. Besides, much of the crucial decision making takes place in Brussels in any case.

So parliament and the cabinet needs to defer to the people. The Great Brexit Debate, then, did not end on 23 June 2016, but merely began. What is the Brexit we want – if any – away from the fantastical illusions of three years ago? Is it still worth it?

The British public have been arguing about politics almost as never before. We have now had the type of deliberative democracy that politics professors write essays about – but played out for real in a vibrant democracy. Now the British are as fully informed about the options as they possibly can be. The 2016 referendum handed sovereignty – including the right to a Final Say – back to them. They are now ready to make their choice.

Events, though, are moving rapidly. While Theresa May has requested a short Brexit extension, and Donald Tusk has offered a year-long “flextension”, the chancellor, usually a bit of an Eeyore, sounds surprisingly optimistic about a breakthrough in the May-Corbyn talks. It would go against all previous behaviour. But even if there was some grand Lab-Con coalition on Brexit, it would still need the approval and consent of the British people.

There are forces pushing to give the UK little if any room for manoeuvre, led by President Emmanuel Macron who has apparently picked up support in Belgium and Spain. This threatens a rapid no-deal Brexit even if the British government and parliament have outlawed it.

That French tactic will probably not be enough to stop Chancellor Merkel exercising good sense and backing Mr Tusk, but it is a risk.

Therefore the choice may very soon – next week – be between the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal and no transition period, or revoking Article 50 unilaterally and staying in the EU.

Mr Macron is pushing the British towards the toughest choice of all – a hard Brexit or full EU membership. Given the balance of opinion in parliament, revoking Article 50 is much the most likely outcome.

Brexit, for sure, was never meant to hand control over the destiny of the country to the president of the French Republic. He might just be doing us a favour though.

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