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Why I'm urging support for a People's Vote on Brexit deal.

This week the government published the latest round of 'no deal' Brexit plans. But, across the party-political divide, many believe that, deal or no deal, the country can only be worse off outside. John Leech, the former Manchester Withington MP who now leads the Liberal Democrat opposition on Manchester City Council, is among them. Theresa May has dismissed calls for a People's Vote - which would effectively be a second referendum on the Brexit deal itself - and a number of local political figures, including Mayor Andy Burnham and Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer - have expressed concern about the idea of one. Graham Stringer, writing in the M.E.N. last month said failure to deliver on the referendum result would 'damage our democracy', while Mr Burnham has said the demand for a second referendum 'inflames this idea of an arrogant political class' and could cause 'real unrest on the streets of Greater Manchester'. Here, Mr Leech argues the public should not be denied a final say - and questions whether opponents of a 'People's Vote' are running scared.

"THE Brexit Referendum has been the most divisive political issue of our generation. Whether you are a strong 'Remainer' like me, or an arch-Brexiteer like Labour MP Graham Stringer or Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, Brexit transcends the traditional Left-Right political divide. But, more than two years after narrowly voting to leave the European Union, we appear no closer to knowing what our relationship with the EU will look like, and there is every indication that Brexit will continue to dominate British politics for the foreseeable future.

Theresa May's 'Chequers Agreement' has been widely rejected by arch-Brexiteers and Remainers. The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has raised a number of serious questions about her plans, and told other EU member states to prepare for a 'no deal' Brexit.

Other than Theresa May, the only people who support the Chequers Agreement are a small band of Conservative MPs, who are desperately trying to avoid political meltdown.

With the growing prospect of a 'no deal' Brexit, the Treasury have warned of the prospect of the government having to borrow an extra PS80bn a year within the next 15 years. Brexit will clearly have a long-term devastating impact on the economy and what any future government will have available to spend on the NHS and social care, the police, schools and other vital public services.

Claims by hard-line Brexiteers that leaving the EU without a deal would not be a problem because we would be able to start trading under WTO rules straight away, have also been rejected. The director general of the World Trade Organisation has stated that it is 'not realistic' to believe that the UK can start trading under WTO rules the day after Brexit in March.

The only point on which we can all agree is that this issue must be sorted out, and sorted out quickly. Time is running out. When the secretary of state for health is putting in place plans to stockpile vital medicines, costing up to PS2bn, the situation is getting serious.

Labour and the Tories are hopelessly divided over Brexit, and so it has been left to the Liberal Democrats to argue the case for the public to have the final say on any Brexit deal.

Locally, I have called on Richard Leese, the Labour leader of Manchester Council, to work with me on a cross-party motion committing the council to support a People's Vote on the Brexit deal.

N. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester's Labour Mayor has condemned people PUZZLES calling for a vote on the Brexit deal as 'arrogant'. As a former secretary of state for health, Mr Burnham should be careful who he chooses to insult, given that the highly-respected Royal College of Nursing has recently come out in support of a People's Vote, warning a bad deal could 'jeopardise patient care.' @MENNEWSDESK STARS Why are the likes of Andy Burnham, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage so afraid to let the public have a final say? Are they worried that when people see the devastating impact that the Brexit deal or no-deal will have, that perhaps they might decide that they would be better off staying in after all?


John Leech
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Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 14, 2018
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