Labour should back a ‘cooling off’ referendum on Europe. After all we did it before

by Joe Anderson

Armaggeddon.’ There’s not much ambiguity about the word.

That’s the Whitehall assessment if there is no exit deal or transitional arrangements as we enter the Brexit endgame.

Even on civil servants’ less cataclysmic judgment, there is a chance that the Port of Dover collapses on the first day we leave the European Union. Food shortages follow.

Is this what Brexiteers mean by ‘taking back control?’

Their starry rhetoric and inflated claims are dissolving day by day.

The boast that the US is poised to sign an early trade deal with us – always a wide-eyed assumption – has been utterly shattered by Donald Trump’s trade war – which now puts 30,000 British steel workers’ jobs at risk.

Now all the talk is that the Government’s White Paper setting out its final negotiating position will be delayed until after the European Council meeting at the end of the month.

Will the Prime Minister be applying for an essay extension?

The impacts of Theresa May’s rickety negotiation position will echo for a generation to come.

This is now farcical and brings the prospect of a ‘no deal’ outcome ever closer.

Literally nothing is going right for Brexiteers.

We have the spectacle of Boris and David Davis fighting to win over the hard right of their party, plotting against Theresa May (who is no more than an interim PM) and pandering to Jacob Rees-Mogg – the power behind the throne – who calls any criticism of this shambles ‘project fear on speed’.

As a millionaire investment fund manager, he can afford to be optimistic about Brexit. If leaving the EU turns into a wrecking ball for the UK economy, he won’t feel the pain.

To the romantic Tory nationalists, whatever fallout comes from Brexit is a price worth paying.

For the rest of us living in the real world – and real economy – Brexit along the lines currently being talked about, is a terrifying prospect.

But how should Labour respond to the biggest political and economic crisis the country has faced since the Second World War?

Jeremy Corbyn is criticised by some passionate Labour Remainers for not coming out unequivocally for staying in the EU. I would respectfully point out that they need to bear in mind 39% of Labour voters supported Brexit.

Nonetheless, I believe that as a party we can support holding a second referendum on whether we leave the EU – not because we don’t respect the decision of voters in the first vote – but because the issues we’re dealing with have moved on so much since June 2016.

It’s abundantly clear the Tory vision for Brexit is a hard, right-wing, Thatcherite embrace of the unfettered free market.

A race to the bottom. An invitation to the vultures of international speculation. Chlorinated chicken. Dodgy milk. The commodification of our NHS. Asking ‘how high?’ when Donald Trump demands we jump.

We cannot leave it to the fantasists of the Tory Right to set the course of our country for decades to come.

In developing our position to support a second referendum on the eventual deal, we should learn from our own history.

Harold Wilson’s referendum back in 1975 on whether we should stay in the then European Economic Community was a chance for the British people to give their consent to the terms upon which Edward Heath took us into Europe in 1972.

It was a cooling-off vote – and we should adopt the same approach now. A second referendum on the terms of our departure from the EU is a chance to revisit the decision we took as a country and ask if it is still relevant.

As the people’s party, let’s give the people their say.

Joe Anderson is Mayor of Liverpool

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11 Responses to “Labour should back a ‘cooling off’ referendum on Europe. After all we did it before”

  1. Tafia says:

    This is rubbish from start to finish. Laughable.

  2. steve says:

    “… the Tory vision for Brexit is a hard, right-wing, Thatcherite embrace of the unfettered free market.”

    Just like being in the EU, then.

  3. Vern says:

    Don’t leave the EU they cry! You will end up with chicken bathed in chlorine they point out!

    You should have put this on the side of your own bus!!

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the stupidity on show.

  4. Anon says:

    What people voted for in 1975 was a Common Market – not the United States of Europe; “cooling off period” is just laughable.
    We were lied to then, and we’re being lied to now.

    Being ‘old Labour’, I have never understood the modern day party being for this parasitic regime. The EU is anti-democratic – and was set up to deliberately be so.

    It seems to suit a certain type of person – doesn’t it, Joe Anderson?

  5. John P Reid says:

    Yes labour did ignore thenresult of anrfendum once, after the 1975 ref. Saw the public vote to stay in, the Labour left told the electorate they were wrong and had us leaving the EEC in the 1983 manifesto, remind me how well that did?

  6. bob says:

    This from a man whose city is in meltdown from gun and knife crime. An investigation into the former chief executive Fitzgerald (ex chief exec at Rotherham at the height of the child abuse scandel) who he appointed and numeous investigations going on into Liverpool City Council. Anderson has been interviewed under caution by Lancs police.

    Property scandels galore including China Town and the Everton football ground at Bramley Moor Dock.

    He and Rotherham the so-called Metro Mayor hate each others guts with passion. Splits and divisions in Liverpool labour Party and a slow take over of CLPs by Momentum, Riverside and Wavertree come to mind.

    He needs to concern himself with sorting out the city.

  7. Anne says:

    Well said Joe.
    What I find really hypercritical is a Brexit warning from Jacob Rees Mogg’s investment firm to investors about Brexit ‘considerable uncertainty.’ Warning his ultra rich clients, whist telling British people to follow him over the cliff edge.

  8. Vern says:

    Anne – i think reading balanced portfolio of media from left, right and independent sources is important when forming judgement
    Too much of either right or left hysteria is bad for the soul!

    Who cares if a company that Rees Mogg works for has different opinion on Brexit?
    Its not hypocritical, its a different opinion and thats all.

    I you dont apply the necessary filters when reading The Guardian you will get angrier and thats what they want. its divisive stuff –

    Dont be fooled by all you read, there is everychance most of it is hysterical nonsense made up on the spot. Rather like this piece of fiction from Mr Anderson.

  9. Tafia says:

    a Brexit warning from Jacob Rees Mogg’s investment firm to investors about Brexit ‘considerable uncertainty.’

    It’s called ‘hedging’ Anne and is standard practice in the world of high finance. During a period of change, they bet on both sides so that no matter what, they win. Even your bank hedges, as do all major companies and corporations.

  10. Anon says:

    @Anne – and I really don’t wish to appear to be some kind of bully – but do you ever consider the Labour members who have done very well out of the EU – at the expense of the UK workforce?

    Do you not see the untrained and unemployed, and do you not see the restraints put on any UK government who wished to tackle these problems – even if they wanted to?

    Do you not see how politicians of all colours have enhanced their lifestyles and wealth whilst an ever increasing number of UK people are crushed by the globalisation that they have provided no protection against?

    Joe Anderson seems very adept at playing this system, but the whole thing is set up for the few, and not the many.

    I don’t care what Rees-Mogg does with his precious gold, but I do care about people who have found their backsides on a red bench in Westminster by proclaiming to be for the working class and poor.

    Rees-Mogg does what he is expected to do; Labour member’s squalid profiteering from the EU cartel is a betrayal of what the Labour Party once stood for.

  11. @Vern
    I do read a range of news sources, and even Brexit-supporting CAPX acknowledge that there’s been a 90 per cent drop in investment into the UK last year, and that it’s due to Brexit

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