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The time for equivocation is over
23 Jul, 2019

We need a remain campaign

Ian Davidson was for many years on the staff of the Financial Times, rising to be Foreign Affairs Editor.  He casts a sad eye over dissension in the Remain movement and calls on us to come out unequivocally for Remaining in the EU.


It is distressing to read that the People’s Vote campaign is being riven by dissension. It seems that one side wants to campaign unequivocally in favour of remaining in the European Union, and that the other side is reluctant to take on those Members of Parliament whose constituents voted for Brexit; so they want to stay a bit vague in public on what the People’s Vote is for.

In other words, they are afraid to say out loud what they want.

Their equivocation would once have been understandable; it has now been overtaken by events. A few months ago, it may have seemed plausible to argue that this country was facing a large and uncertain range of policy options on the Brexit agenda: Mrs May’s Brexit deal, a very hard Brexit, a no-deal Brexit, a No-Brexit-at-all, or any other combination or permutation across the board.

If a referendum had been held a few months ago, therefore, it would not have been self-evident what the question should be; and many people argued that there should be several questions, or perhaps a referendum in at least two stages.

The case for ambiguity is now completely dépassé. Mrs May’s deal is dead; and though Boris Johnson says he will get better terms, everyone knows he will fail. The choice facing us is between a Boris Johnson No-deal Crashout, and remaining in the European Union. There is no Third Way; and there is no point in thinking one can finesse the hard choice.

The only point in holding a People’s Vote is to overturn the verdict of the first referendum, and to do so with equal legitimacy; and there is no longer any advantage in pretending otherwise. It is time for the equivocation to end.




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