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Why Remainers Should Endorse the Chequers Agreement

Finally the UK has a united government; two years too late, but better late than never. It’s a development that the Remain camp should rejoice in, because it’s the best deal going under the circumstance, it’s not far off from what Remainers want and – most importantly – it saves them from their own misfortune: The People’s Vote.

There is a starkly disturbing similarity between Brexit and The People’s Vote.

Let’s not forget that old adage of what defines a fool: Doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. 

Over 100,000 people marched in London to demand a People’s Vote. Not one person, including Gina Miller and Mike Galsworthy who are leading this campaign, have thought it important enough to set out exactly what The People’s Vote should be.

Millions of people up and down the country demanding something that has no clear, agreed definition: Does that remind you of anything – anything at all? The most breath-taking aspect of the farce that is Brexit is this: The biggest lessons have not been learnt.

If there were to be a People’s Vote, there would be a lot of Remainers who’d complain that the vote wasn’t what they wanted. They’d be grumbles that it didn’t include all the options wanted or it still excluded certain people from voting or that which constitutes a win is not quite what some Remainers had in mind.

Even if we imagine the unlikely: Gina Miller, Dr. Mike Galsworthy, Nick Clegg, et al holed up in a country mansion somewhere thrashing out what a People’s Vote actually means. After 12 hours they emerge united with a collective responsibility thus jumping that particular and obvious hurdle.  The race is still far from over and a victory even less certain.

It would take nothing more than another marginal win for ‘Leave’ to seal the deal on the UK never re-joining the EU.  It’s an easy and achievable victory for Leave.  To think otherwise would be a mistake.

By contrast, a marginal victory for Remain will not be good enough to finalise the matter once and for all. All the comments about a narrow victory for Brexit not really representing the “will of the people” will be thrown back at Remainers who will have no response lest they sound hypocrites.  The country will be in limbo and divided with no chance of a ‘best out of three’ to resolve the issue.

A victory for Remain would have to be an absolute minimum of 60% agreeing to stay in the EU. That represents a swing of at least 10% in the vote. It would be difficult to achieve even if there were only two options available. If the people’s vote adds a third option: Go back to the negotiation table, for example, a clear 60% endorsement for any one option would be impossible to achieve. Yet, a marginal win for ‘Leave’ would be no less achievable.

In truth, the re-negotiate option is such a myth, it might as well be written on the side of a big red bus. Demanding the UK government go back to the table is all good and well, but that same demand cannot be forced on the EU side. The EU team might stick to their guns with ‘a take it or crash out’ stance.  That would leave the UK parliament looking even more silly and impotent than the UK government looks now.

The only viable third option, along side ‘Crash out’ and ‘stay in’, is ‘accept what is on offer’.  Although a ringing endorsement of this option is not as insurmountable a task as remaining in the EU, it would nevertheless be extremely difficult to achieve, especially if the remain vote is effectively split between two options: ‘The deal’ or ‘remain in the EU’ while the leave side has just one option to endorse and only needing a small majority to win the argument, the vote and the moral high ground.

The Chequers Agreement represents the best option for Remainers. The wording may be different: ‘Common Rule Book’ instead of common market.  ‘Mobility Framework’ as opposed to ‘Free Movement of People’, but what’s in a name?

Although the deal has yet to be thrashed out with the EU, all the signs are that it will be. At this moment, the details of the deal are so vague as to offer even greater alignment to the EU without seeming to contradict what has been agreed at Chequers. It is almost a given that Theresa May ran this by Angela Merkel during her recent meeting with the German Chancellor. No doubt, Michel Barnier has given his input and indicated its likelihood of success. No wonder, he is talking in more compromising and conciliatory tones.

Remainers should embrace this deal tightly. It represents the nearest thing to staying in the EU that they could possible wish for. Allowing the deal to go through would bring a conclusion to this particular Brexit and leave the option open to rejoin the EU at a later date. Fighting it and demanding an undefined People’s Vote will mean greater uncertainty and a real risk of losing the chance to rejoin in the future.  While Remainers insist on not learning the lessons of Brexit, they won’t be able to see it’s the best deal on offer to them.

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