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01st Sep 2018

A People’s Vote on Brexit, explained

Who, what, where, why, how

Who, what, where, why, how

People’s Vote, the People’s Vote or a People’s Vote broadly means offering the British electorate a second referendum on membership of the European Union. The term comes from the pressure group People’s Vote, which campaigns for the cause. Since conception in 2017 hundreds of thousands of people have marched the streets under its banners and ‘people’s vote’ has entered public discourse as a synonym for Brexit round II.

It is the most cohesive and effective opposition that Brexit faces in the UK and is supported universally by Lib Dems, as well as a cross-bench grouping of Conservative and Labour MPs. At the organisation’s formal launch in April 2018 speeches were given by MPs Chuka Umunna (Labour), Anna Soubry (Conservative), Caroline Lucas (Green) and Layla Moran (Lib Dem) as well as celebrities Andy Parsons and Sir Patrick Stewart.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna processes though the central lobby during the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament on May 27, 2015 in London, England. The Queen's Speech is the centrepiece of the State Opening and is expected to see promise of an EU referendum, tax cuts and an extension of Right to Buy in the in the first all-Conservative Queen's Speech since 1996. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Other figures associated with the campaign include the Blairites Lord Adonis and Lord Mandelson.

Several anti-Brexit have been incorporated into the People’s Vote umbrella including Our Future Our Choice (OFOC), For our Future’s Sake (FFS) and Open Britain, which is the legal entity responsible for the People’s Vote website and any data it controls.

On that website the group explains their motives:

“The People’s Vote campaign seeks to ensure that the government’s Brexit deal is put before the country in a public vote so that we can decide if a decision that will affect our lives for generations makes the country better or worse off.

Good deal or bad deal, it’s definitely a big deal – and that’s why it should be put to a People’s Vote.”

It’s a condescending statement when considered alongside the history of UK-wide referendums. Before 2016 there had been two, one in 2011 and another in 1975, and the earlier was a Yes/No on joining the EU. To suggest another on the same topic in the next 40 years is not quite within constitutional convention. But proponents of a People’s Vote argue that so exceptional is the risk posed by a ‘no deal’ Brexit that it requires an exceptional response.

Nigel Farage even toyed with the idea of a second vote…

Judging by Michel Barnier’s recent remarks, a ‘no deal’ outcome from negotiations looks highly unlikely. Whether that will quell calls for a referendum on a deal looks equally so.