Why Plaid Cymru is demanding a people’s vote

Jill Evans at the Plaid Cymru Conference. Picture by Plaid Cymru

Jill Evans, Plaid Cymru MEP

In our annual conference last weekend, Plaid Cymru officially adopted a policy of supporting a People’s Vote on the final deal with the EU.

The Westminster, Assembly and European parliamentary groups jointly presented the emergency motion, which conference delegates supported unanimously.

While Theresa May has failed to negotiate a position within her own party, Plaid Cymru is honest about the options ahead of us, and in full agreement that this looming crisis must be averted.

A People’s Vote and campaigning for a remain vote is the only credible option.

There are two other options on the table – a bad deal or a disastrous no deal. We now know that either will be a far cry from what was promised in 2016, or by the Brexit ministers at the start of the negotiations.

The UK economy is already losing £500 million a week due to the leave vote, compared to if remain had won the referendum. This is before we have even left!

The Welsh economy is heavily reliant on trade with the rest of the Single Market. Any deal that takes us out of the Single Market will severely affect our agriculture and manufacturing industries.

This will affect people all over Wales, whether we work in those sectors or not and whether we voted leave or remain.

Any deal will be damage limitation that will leave no one happy. The forecasts are gloomy for Wales – economically but also culturally. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Changing minds

If, at the end of this process, people look at the outcome of the negotiations and realise that this is not what they voted for, they should have the right to reject the deal.

Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the Greens, the Liberal Democrats and an increasing number of Labour and Conservative MPs now support a People’s Vote.

A referendum to determine if voters accept the outcome, following negotiations and a process of learning the facts, would re-democratise this process.

Not allowing a referendum betrays a central pillar of democracy – that citizens have the right to change their minds.

When people voted to leave the EU in 2016, they offered no instruction as to the future relationship with the EU. The Single Market, the Customs Union, the European Court of Justice, the free movement of people — none of these were on the ballot paper.

When we know what the relationship will look like, the government must consult the electorate again.

Since the 2016 poll, an additional 1.4 million young people would be eligible to vote in a referendum on the final deal.

These young people were denied the vote on the most fundamental change we have seen in a generation that will affect them the most.

Raymond Williams said, “The basic principle of democracy is that since all are full members of society, all have the right to speak as they wish or find.”

Over a million young people have been deprived of the right to speak, so denying a referendum on the deal is undemocratic.

These two basic principles of democracy — the active participation and the free contribution of all citizens, and their right to change their minds — did not cease to apply in June 2016.

Research shows the tide is turning across all parts of the UK now that it is clear that the promises made are impossible to keep.

We demand a People’s Vote. We owe it to future generations.

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