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Brexit Uncertainty Lingers as Remainers Demand a Second Referendum


Brexit uncertainty lingers as remainers demand a second referendum.

The UK’s shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer, has raised concerns as to whether the Labour and Conservative Parties could come up with a Brexit deal compromise that does not include a referendum vote. Mr. Starmer has suggested that as many as 150 Labour MPs could veto a Brexit deal that excludes a second referendum vote.

The shadow Brexit secretary has advised that any Brexit deal that is passed through Parliament must be partnered with a confirmatory referendum vote and that should Prime Minister Theresa May set an official date for her resignation it would only delay the possibility of reaching an EU withdrawal deal.

Keir Starmer is set to be Labour’s main candidate for the European elections on the 23rd of May 2019. Following substantial local election losses, Mr. Starmer said that Labour Party voters could lose confidence in the Labour Party and move towards the Liberal Democrat Party instead. 

“There is concern in leave areas about whether some of our voters might vote for other parties, but I think there is an increasing concern that some of the Labour Remain voters might not vote Labour.”

Click here to read the full report taken from

“If the vote that is progressive is split then all that does is open up the path for the Brexit party and allow it to pretend it represents the majority view in this country. On the critical issues, like a close economic relationship with the EU, and a confirmatory vote, only Labour can deliver on those.”

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In a recent Opinium / Observer poll that gauged the attitude of the general public found that Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party held the lead with 34 percent of the votes, followed by Labour’s 21 percent, the Liberal Democrat’s with 12 percent, the Conservatives with 11 percent, the Green party with 8 percent, UKIP and the SNP with a shared 4 percent and finally The Independent Group of former Labour and Conservative remainer MPs with 3 percent of the votes.

Click here to read the full political survey taken from

The shadow Brexit secretary has been participating in cross-party Brexit negotiations and talks with the Conservative Government with the intention of bringing forward a viable withdrawal deal that could pass through Parliament and Brussels. He has also emphasized his opinion that any deal that is agreed upon needs to be accompanied by a confirmatory public vote. On the other hand, the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, has a different perspective on the issue, suggesting that a second referendum vote is unnecessary.

“Our party policy has always been that firstly we want to get a Brexit deal that puts our economy and living standards first and protects our environmental protections, workplace protections, health and safety standards. If we don’t get a deal that satisfies those objectives – if it’s a damaging deal, a damaging Tory Brexit deal, or there’s a risk of us moving towards a no deal – in that circumstance, we’ve said that all options should be on the table, and that includes campaigning for a public vote.”

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Starmer suggests that there are a few issues which are obstructing and crippling any progress. These key concerns include disagreements between the two parties on the subject of a Customs Union with the EU and the uncertainty of who will take over as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Theresa May is facing growing pressure from the Conservative Party and Parliament in general, to announce an official date for her resignation. However, this does not promote an environment for debate, suggests Starmer, because should a deal be agreed whilst Prime Minister May is in Office, there is no guarantee that the next leader of the Conservative Party would agree with the deal.

Keir Starmer has said that the Labour Party should not shy away from postponing further cross-party Brexit negotiations if no productive end is in sight.

“I think it would be wrong in principle to use up much more time simply exploring each other’s positions. I do think we do probably in the coming days need to make that assessment.”

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Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, on May the 9th said the following on the subject of Brexit talks and the notion of a second referendum or confirmatory public vote.

So far, in those talks, there has been no big offer and the red lines remain in place. It’s actually quite difficult negotiating with a disintegrating government, with cabinet ministers jockeying for succession rather than working for an agreement. As democratic socialists we cannot ignore that. We voted to trigger Article 50 in 2017, it is in the country’s interest to try to get this sorted one way or the other. But we can never accept the Government’s bad deal or a disastrous no deal. So, if we can’t get a sensible deal along the lines of our alternative plan or a general election, Labour backs the option of a public vote on it.”

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What does the Bank of England have to say about Brexit?

The Bank of England’s Deputy Governor for Monetary Policy, Ben Broadbent, has warned that a lengthy delay to the Brexit process could damage and cripple the UK’s economic growth and investments in general.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the type of Brexit and when the UK will depart from the bloc, business investment has seen a steady and sharp decline.   

The Bank of England’s report on UK GDP forecasts and its relationship with the Brexit process says the following:

“The Monetary Policy Committee has noted previously that UK data could be unusually volatile in the near term, due to shifting expectations about Brexit in financial markets and among households and businesses. GDP is expected to have grown by 0.5% in 2019 Q1, in part reflecting a larger-than-expected boost from companies in the United Kingdom and the European Union building stocks ahead of recent Brexit deadlines. That boost is expected to be temporary, however, and quarterly growth is expected to slow to around 0.2% in Q2. Smoothing through those developments, the underlying pace of GDP growth appears to be slightly stronger than previously anticipated, but marginally below potential. That subdued pace reflects the impact of the slowdown in global growth and ongoing Brexit uncertainties. The latter is having a particularly pronounced impact on business investment, which has been falling for a year. The MPC judges that there is currently a small margin of excess supply in the economy.”

Click here to read the full report.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has suggested that the possibility of increased interest rates exist now due to the risk of high inflation levels. “If something like the forecast comes to pass, it will require interest rate increases over that period [two years] and more frequent than financial markets currently expect.”

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However, the Bank of England’s MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) announced that the speed at which interest rates would increase would be steady and gradual in its quarterly inflation report following Brexit uncertainty that has hindered business investments and outlook. 

“The MPC noted in the February Report that UK data could be more than usually volatile in the near term, due to shifting expectations about Brexit in financial markets and among businesses and households. Since then, UK activity appears to have been slightly weaker than expected in 2018 Q4, with the latest ONS estimate of quarterly growth at 0.2%. However, GDP growth is expected to have risen to 0.5% in 2019 Q1 — stronger than projected in February — in part reflecting a boost from companies building up stocks ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit. That boost is expected to be temporary, and quarterly GDP growth is expected to slow to 0.2% in 2019 Q2.”

“Smoothing through those developments, the underlying pace of UK GDP growth appears to have been slightly stronger than was anticipated in February, but nonetheless marginally below potential. That subdued pace reflects the impact of the slowdown in global growth and Brexit uncertainties. UK GDP growth is projected to remain slightly below trend rates in the second half of this year. The uncertainty around the near-term outlook is judged likely to continue to be higher than usual, however. Given the current elevated Brexit uncertainties, some data over the coming quarters could continue to be volatile and might provide less of a signal about the underlying path of the economy over the medium term.”

Click here to read the Bank of England’s full Inflation Report.

Does the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, have any plans to help with the cross-party Brexit talks?

Prime Minister May has pledged to reestablish negotiations with the EU, to try and find common ground between the two major parties in Parliament which will ultimately lead to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

UK PM May is facing immense pressure from members of her own party to either resign or to get Brexit over the line. But in this case, it is easier said than done.

So, what is the main hurdle that Brexit faces?

  • Customs Union – the Labour Party wants a Customs Union with the European Union whereas the Conservatives are opposed to a comprehensive Customs Union because it would strip the UK of the ability to create its own trade deals with non-EU nations and essentially could end up locking the UK underneath the regulations set by the European Union.

Amidst the Brexit deadlock, both Conservative and Labour parties have sustained losses illustrated by the result of the local elections. So, the Conservative Party is examining the prospect of a customs union that will last until the next general election in 2022.

Key issues regarding the prevention and reduction of global warming, customs union arrangements and employee’s rights, are all under the limelight as Prime Minister May approaches the European Union for further Brexit negotiations.  

Could Britain use a second public referendum vote to help break the impasse?

Members of Parliament and UK citizens who want to remain within the EU have suggested that a confirmatory public vote or a second referendum, should be conducted to discover the true will of the people.

Promoters of the second referendum movement claim that the initial June 2016 referendum was clouded by misinformation and did not express the consequences which could arise from a no-deal Brexit.

In contrast to this political stance, Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected the possibility of a second confirmatory public vote because the British public decided the fate of the country in 2016, and it is a democratic responsibility and duty for that result to be carried out. Supporters of a second referendum argue that the Brexit deadlock is tearing Parliament and various parties apart, with cabinet ministers resigning, to new parties being established, and therefore the logical method of reaching a decision would be to allow all members of the public to decide.

So, what’s the problem with holding a second referendum vote?

  • The first issue is that a confirmatory public vote could take months to implement and carry out, and Britain has until the end of October to finalize a withdrawal deal or another extension to Article 50 will need to be requested.
  • The second issue involves the question of what the second referendum would ask. What exactly should the general public be asked when there are a wide array of problems that face the Brexit situation. From the Irish backstop to the customs union.

Final thoughts

The British Parliament currently does not have a Brexit deal to take to the European Union. The likelihood of a no-deal Brexit lingers in the background amongst all the uncertainty and the delays. The current Brexit deadline is set for the 31st of October 2019, will Brexit be finalized before then? Will Theresa May announce a date for her anticipated resignation? Who will take over as Prime Minister? What will happen with the Irish backstop and the Customs Union? All these questions make up and amplify the uncertainty that surrounds Brexit.   

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