Brexit Update – May/June 2019


Since I published my last Brexit update, the results of local Council and European elections should give all parties pause for thought. Both sets of elections saw voters express frustration at the continuing uncertainty over where we are going as a country in relation to Brexit.

Last Tuesday, the online magazine LabourList, published this article from me in which I set out some of the lessons I think my Party should learn going forward. It will not please everybody – that is inevitable. My point is that on issues like Brexit on which there are deep and genuinely-held differences across the country, all of us should be true to ourselves in what we say and not resort to abuse of those who take a different view.

And we need to find a way through this. People on both sides of the Brexit debate have interpreted the results of the Euro elections in different ways. Some have pointed to the fact that the Brexit Party secured more votes than any other single party as proof that the country still backs Brexit, without a deal if necessary. Others take a different view, pointing out that the total number votes cast for parties unambiguously backing Remain was higher than the number cast for parties unambiguously backing Brexit. However you look at it, though, the country is still divided and in truth none of us know where the majority now lies. With decision-making in Parliament deadlocked and likely to remain so, I do not therefore see any alternative but to resolve the issue by another referendum. In my Labour List article I explain why I think this – on practical grounds as well as reasons of principle.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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