What is the People's Voice?

A People’s Vote must be different from the last referendum. The vote in 2016 has been hugely divisive. Compromises are not available. We are either inside or or outside the European Union. As the debate has continued over the Withdrawal Agreement attitudes have hardened. Leavers are not prepared to accept compromise in our ability to strike new trade deals with the rest of the world to preserve a closer trading relationship with those geographically closer and currently more important. Nor have they recognised the importance of safeguarding the Northern Ireland peace process if that means accepting constraints on our perceived national (English) sovereignty. Those on the Remain side of the argument have more recently expressed their desire to simply revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit. This completely ignores the potential reaction of leavers to what they will see as a conspiracy to defraud the electorate.

Mrs May’s and others claim that should Parliament refuse to carry out the Leave vote by 29th March this will unleash a right-wing threat to our democracy may be dismissed as overblown hyperbole, none the less it seems unlikely that our MPs will simply cancel Brexit without a further popular mandate. This is why the campaign for a People’s Vote is about ensuring that the people are given a voice between real alternatives and is the beginning of trying to achieve a consensus to support our democracy rather than the opposite.

It is however clear that this is not enough and the People’s Voice is a further initiative to change the nature of political debate and create a proper sense of community. It starts from recognising that the 2016 referendum was a turning point in our history. Millions of people voted Leave because they concluded that the way Britain works does not work for them. They were right in their analysis of the country, but if Brexit, as we believe it clearly, is not the solution then we need to find ways of solving those problems and providing a society that does work for all.

This is a project beyond the scope of, and something that will require work well into the future, beyond the lifetime of the People’s Vote campaign. None the less it begins by acknowledging and recognising the issues and listening to the concerns. It may also require new political processes and parties, so the earlier we start to work on it the better. There is a Peoples-Voice website where you can find out more and record your concerns. At Open Britain Shrewsbury we will also be contributing to the national debate, starting with a local meeting on 12th February where we will be encouraging supporters to attend and discuss this issue. We are also asking them to bring a friend so that we can understand those who may not yet support us. Together we want to start to bring people back together so that we can create a better campaign about a better country and a better relationship with Europe. Please join in and spread the word.

Bob Saunders