Why a General Election is no alternative to a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal

In an interview with LFF this week, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell refused to fully endorse a public vote on the terms of Brexit: "I want a General Election, I don’t want to let these Tories off the hook." Bashir Ibrahim responds.

I’m desperate for a General Election and a Labour Government. This Tory Government have decimated local communities, fostered an atmosphere of hate and ultimately taken the country to the brink of destruction, simply due to Tory infighting. It pains me that we’re not in power, transforming politics and society alike.

I’ve been a Labour member for many years. In fact, I was born, raised and still live in Islington North – Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency. I am an enthusiastic supporter of my local MP and the Leader of the Labour Party, and have consistently voted for him in both Labour leadership elections in 2015 and 2016. I have also been privileged to have served as the BAME Officer for a ward within Islington North CLP for the past two years

Brexit is currently having a multitude of effects: it’s harming working class communities, it has created uncertainty for businesses, but worst of all, it has led to a rise in the far right. It has also clogged up Parliament, which is unable to decide what to have for breakfast, let alone deciding on a coherent approach to Brexit.

Brexit is threatening the prosperity of the U.K. The gap between the Brexit promised two years ago and the mess being delivered is getting bigger by the day. We have not left the EU, yet we are seeing prices in shops already rising. We were promised an extra £350m a week to our beloved NHS, however what we have seen is doctors and nurses leaving. We are constantly hearing reports of the government needing to stockpile medicines. A very different picture to that painted by Brexiters during the EU Referendum.

It now seems almost impossible that Theresa May’s botched Brexit will secure a Commons majority. Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has all but guaranteed that the deal cobbled together will be voted against by Labour. And if the Pro-EU Conservatives don’t vote down the deal, the European Research Group – led by Brexit elites like Rees-Mogg – surely will.

In the event of a government losing a key vote on its singular flagship policy, I would agree with many others in the Labour Party that there should be a General Election.

A General Election that I believe – and for what it’s worth, the Conservatives do as well – would lead to a radical Labour government, led by Jeremy Corbyn. A socialist Labour Government which would be able to implement some of their key policies that enthused nearly 13 million people to vote for Labour in last year’s General Election – from nationalising vital industries to scrapping zero hours contracts.

Unfortunately, the prospect of a General Election, and therefore an imminent Labour Government is extremely unlikely. Since the Fixed Term Parliament’ Act, you need a two thirds majority in the House of Commons to call for a General Election. It is extremely unlikely and unrealistic to expect Conservative or DUP MPs to vote to bring down this government.

My view on this is this: if Labour cannot get a General Election, it should unite around the only way to resolve this crisis. If a People’s Vote rejects the Government’s whole approach to Brexit (which I believe it would) – it would transform politics, improve the prospects for a radical Labour government and almost certainly trigger an election – which would pave the way for Jeremy Corbyn to 10 Downing Street.

Bashir Ibrahim is an For our Future’s Sake supporter and a Labour Party Activist. Follow him on Twitter.

See also: EXCLUSIVE: John McDonnell on the financial crash and a ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit

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