Parliament is behaving abominably over Brexit – now it must be left to the public to decide

Please send your letters to

Thursday 17 January 2019 13:57 GMT
Jeremy Corbyn says Labour is not ruling out a 'public vote' on the future of Brexit

We are in a shambles. Originally in 2016 we had two options: Remain and Brexit. At the time of the referendum we knew precisely what Remain meant since we lived under that system. On the other hand, we did not know the real or true terms of Brexit since they had not been formulated or agreed between the relevant parties. Brexit, however, won by a small margin.

We now know precisely what our terms of departure from the EU are, if accepted by us. However, the House of Commons on 15 May 2019 decisively rejected these terms, so currently the only non-Remain options open to us are, first, a no-deal situation (which almost everyone agrees would be disastrous) or, secondly, perhaps a Norway-type solution (which almost everyone agrees is not suitable for an industrialised country such as the UK).

So what is left on the table? Simply the Remain option and three unacceptable Brexit options. The idea that we cannot have a second referendum because it is alleged “the Commons will not permit the betrayal of democracy” (see Tom Peck in The Independent, 16 January) is ludicrous. Betrayal by whom? The real betrayal has been by parliament. The absurdity of the governing party which loses a vital vote on the Brexit terms, only to be followed by the members of that same party voting to keep the prime minister in office in order to prevent another party taking over control of the government is demeaning, thoroughly selfish and, I would have thought, wholly undemocratic.

The one and only answer to this unholy mess is to hold another referendum of the general populace. And, anyway, this time round the voters will have a much clearer idea of the Remain and Leave options.

David Ashton

Further to your extensive coverage of Brexit.

After the historic vote on the Brexit deal and the no confidence vote we are left with the question of what to do next to resolve the Brexit issue.

Parliament cannot agree a way forward and therefore democracy now demands that the people decide the outcome of Brexit. That brings us back to a people’s vote, but what should the question be?

We know the prime minister’s deal is not acceptable, the 15 January vote proved that.

We know no deal is very bad, we hear that from so many sources.

We know the EU has said repeatedly they are not willing to renegotiate the deal. This means the unrealistic option of renegotiating with the EU should not be presented to the public since it not likely to be possible and even less likely to result in a deal which is acceptable either to parliament or to the electorate.

Therefore, the only options within the UK’s control are: remain in the EU or leave the EU with no deal. This is most clearly not a rerun of the 2016 referendum when all manner of deals seemed possible. This is a very different question. It is a clear choice between leaving the EU with no deal or remaining in the EU.

The EU has indicated that it would agree to extend Article 50 for such a people’s vote to take place.

Whichever outcome you prefer, please help your country now by writing to your MP and telling them you want a people’s vote.

Anthony Gledhill

The reality of Brexit is becoming clear

The great investor Warren Buffett is quoted as saying that it is only when the tide goes out that you see who has been swimming naked. The Brexit debate has been like the tide going out; it has starkly illustrated which politicians have leadership skills, flexibility and imagination. The two main party leaders are naked.

Theresa May has plodded along for over two years, unable to think beyond a policy that was never going to be accepted and trying always to keep the decision making to herself. Jeremy Corbyn has thought only of a general election and has offered no thinking on Brexit outside of that.

At last the brighter and better parliamentarians are seizing the reins from the two leaders and showing a willingness to work across party lines. Hopefully, they will find a way forward in the few days left before Brexit that will rescue the country from the farce in which we find ourselves. The two main party leaders certainly won’t.

Richard Warrell

It’s too late for cross-party talks now

So Theresa May is now asking for cross-party cooperation – isn’t that a little late in the day? Shouldn’t that have been done from the very beginning, instead of her trying to be a one-woman secret army? On a political discussion on TV a few weeks ago, there were several MPs discussing this very thing, and all of the non-Conservative MPs said they had expected the other parties to be involved, but none of them had been approached. Perhaps if they had, the present situation would have been in a much better place!

John Hudson

The Conservative Party must split – for the good of the country

As a humble viewer of the antics of the body politic, I fail to understand why no learned observer, no analyst, and certainly not Theresa May, identifies to underlying issue that precludes any joint solution to the parliamentary conundrum.

Surely it is obvious that until someone has the courage to break the Conservative Party into its two components and tell the right-wing Brexiteers to form their own party, no progress can be made. Why are political commentators so scared to raise this solution? Are they all afraid of where their next lunch will come from?

The Conservative Party must be broken up – let’s hear it. If May had the courage she could ensure a place in the history books, a better reference than she will get under her current servile approach.

Geoffrey Hurley

Forget a second referendum – it’s time for parliament to vote down Brexit

The simple truth is that the electorate in 2016 voted for something that was never going to be deliverable. Indeed, before the referendum a few perceptive commentators said (irrespective of the merits of either case) that we would never leave, because attempting to detach Britain from the EU would present too many insolubly complex problems. We now have a much better understanding of what those complexities were and are.

Constitutionally the referendum was only advisory. Under our parliamentary system our elected representatives themselves (who were originally assumed to be predominantly Remainers) could in theory now vote to remain without recourse to a second referendum. Yes, there would be widespread public dismay and some unruly behaviour. However, the nation is so divided that a second referendum campaign would be quite disruptive anyway, and we are now sadly at a place where any decisive action and conceivable outcome will provoke public anger from one group or another.

Gavin Turner

No-deal Brexit is not an option for the UK

We are leaders from the legal, engineering and built environment sectors, from healthcare, academia, accounting, science, energy and business, and we are writing because we collectively fear the destructive effects of a no-deal Brexit on our sectors and, therefore, on the UK economy.

Between us we keep the wheels of the economy turning – educating, designing, making, powering, facilitating, discovering, innovating, promoting and restoring health, and delivering housing and infrastructure.

A no deal on 29 March would adversely affect the UK economy – hitting jobs, undermining tax revenues and impacting on public services.

So, we are urging politicians from across the divide to unite to avert a UK-wide crisis and find a way forward to ensure the end of our EU membership doesn’t end an era of unprecedented economic strength for the UK – with all the political and social fallout that will herald.

Christina Blacklaws, president, Law Society of England and Wales
Suzanne Rice, president, Law Society of Northern Ireland
Alistair Jarvis, CEO, Universities UK
Mike Cherry, national chairman, Federation of Small Businesses
Venki Ramakrishnan, president, the Royal Society
Professor Paul Hardaker, CEO, Institute of Physics
Dr Robert Parker, CEO, Royal Society of Chemistry
Dr Mark Downs CSci FRSB, CEO, Royal Society of Biology
Alan Vallance, CEO, Royal Institute of British Architects
Lawrence Slade, CEO, Energy UK
Dame Professor Donna Kinnair, CEO & general secretary, Royal College of Nursing
Gill Walton, CEO and general secretary, Royal College of Midwives
Michael Izza, CEO, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
Victoria Hills MRTPI, CEO, Royal Town Planning Institute
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chamber of Commerce
Tom Parker, president, British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium
Institution of Engineering and Technology

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in