Johnson’s Brexit deal must be put to public vote, say campaigners

Boris Johnson's new Brexit deal may yet face obstacles, note commentators from left campaign groups to the Lib Dems.

A deal has been agreed between the EU and UK on Brexit, with progressive groups swiftly calling for a vote on the terms — and in Scotland, for total independence from the UK.

A key issue will be whether such a public vote would be held before or after a general election.

But commentators steered clear of that important detail.

Naomi Smith, chief executive at anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, noted however that the agreement as announced was a “low level deal” with “all the hallmarks of a failed negotiation”.

“The deal is spectacularly worse than what we already have as part of the EU, and even makes Theresa May’s fudged attempt look masterful,” she said.

“It was not long ago that Boris Johnson thought a border in the Irish Sea would be a betrayal. MPs must be given reasonable time to look over this and scrutinise it,” Smith said.

And then? “Put it to the people for the final say.”

“They’ve had no part in negotiating this wretched deal, and it would be unacceptable to force it on the country without their consent,” finished Smith.

Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South and pro-EU campaigner, said that despite the news, Brexit was still “far from a done deal”.

“The problem with any agreement isn’t just the impact on Northern Ireland, it’s the catastrophic economic impact for the entire UK, which will hit the most vulnerable the hardest. There is no such thing as a good Brexit deal,” he said.

Murray said the public should get the chance to make the final choice — in a confirmatory referendum. He also vowed to continue to fight to “keep the best deal we already have” by remaining in the EU.

Patrick Harvie, MSP, Scottish Greens co-leader, reiterated that the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in 2016. Since then UK government had rebuffed “any attempts at compromise”.

“A growing majority of Scots want absolutely nothing to do with Boris Johnson’s Brexit Britain,” he said, suggesting that “the people must now be given a say” in an independent Scotland.

Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, agreed with calls for a public vote, saying the fight to stop Brexit is far from over.

“Boris Johnson’s deal would be bad for our economy, bad for our public services, and bad for our environment,” she said. “The next few days will set the direction of our country for generations, and I am more determined than ever to stop Brexit.

“When this deal comes to Parliament we will use every possible opportunity to give the public a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal that includes the option to remain in the European Union.”

Meanwhile, the pound is rallying on news of the deal, agreed between UK and EU negotiators before a meeting of European leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

Nigel Green, the CEO and founder of financial advisory firm deVere Group, noted that the deal will still need to be approved by both the UK and European parliaments.

The pound soared above $1.29 for the first time since the month of May on reports a Brexit deal has been reached, he said.

However, “question marks” remain, including over the DUP’s support, which would be critical to getting the deal through the Commons.

“Even if it is passed, this is really just the beginning – not the end,” Green said.

Labour MPs have been whipped to back a second referendum on Saturday 19 October.

Fleur Doidge is a freelance journalist for Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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