TIG ignored the wishes of the Peoples Vote campaign
Last week, the Indepedent Group (TIG) were given a choice. Maximise the chances of a second referendum? Or jeopardise the chances of a second referendum but score political points against Jeremy Corbyn? They chose the latter.
Last Thursday, TIG’s Sarah Wollaston introduced an amendment to Parliament which, if approved, would have given the public a referendum between leaving the EU ‘on Parliament’s terms’ and remaining.
This was not the first time. She has tabled, or threatened to table, such an amendment at least twice before – the second time with her future TIG colleagues Luciana Berger and Mike Gapes.
Every time, the amendment has been accompanied by two things – criticism of Corbyn’s ‘fence-sitting’ and a (perhaps initially surprising) lack of enthusiasm from the Peoples’ Vote campaign and its parliamentary supporters.
Why would the Peoples Vote campaign not be delighted with an amendment to have a Peoples Vote? Because they, like everyone in Parliament, knows Parliament will never vote for it.
There aren’t enough Tory rebels (who will vote for it) to counter the Labour rebels and the DUP (who will vote against it).
And every time Parliament votes against a Peoples’ Vote or an amendment is tabled and then withdrawn, the fact that Parliament does not support it is highlighted.
TIG know this – yet they tabled the amendment anyway.
No doubt, this message of “betrayal” will be repeated constantly by TIG, the Greens, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party until the next election and beyond.
Many will believe it. It is a simple argument (Labour abstained on a second referendum after promising to support it) with a complex counter-argument. So it will be a difficult accusation for Labour to dispel.
So what is the counter-argument? Why did Labour abstain? Because they wanted to keep their powder dry. They have a better plan.
Its called the Kyle-Wilson amendment and, unlike the Wollaston amendment, has a chance of being passed through Parliament.
Like the Wollaston amendment, the Kyle-Wilson amendment would also lead to a public vote.
Unlike the Wollaston amendment, the Kyle-Wilson amendment would mean Labour whipped to abstain on Theresa May’s deal, allowing it to pass on the condition that is put to a referendum. Parliament would decide the options on the referendum’s ballot paper.
This is why Tory MPs who would not support Wollaston’s amendment might support Kyle-Wilson’s.
As Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson have said, the Wollaston amendment was “more about scoring political points than anything else”.
Those who want to give the public a final say on May’s Brexit deal should stop posturing and unite around the Kyle-Wilson amendment.
Joe Lo is a reporter for Left Foot Forward
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