Democracy is not a one-off event – if we really care about the will of the people we must support a Final Say
Brexit might be a big deal, but it’s certainly not a done deal. The momentum is with the campaign for a second referendum, and Saturday's march is crucial
Brexit Day is just over 150 days away. And as the clock ticks down to zero hour, it’s becoming obvious to everyone that it won’t be a hop, skip and a jump into the promised land of milk and honey, but rather a full on leap into the screaming void.
We don’t know what the “deal” the prime minister will bring home looks like yet, but we do know two things.
Firstly, the deal won’t satisfy the Brexit extremists in the Conservative Party – the walking, talking dinosaurs that are holding their own prime minister and our country to ransom. Secondly, we know it is not what people thought they were voting for when they voted in the Brexit referendum two years ago.
Join Independent Minds
For exclusive articles, events and an advertising-free read for just £5.99 €6.99 $9.99 a month
Get the best of The Independent
With an Independent Minds subscription for just £5.99 €6.99 $9.99 a month
The Brexit vote was a clear signal to the elites, to the failed political class, that something has been going badly wrong in this country. Years of austerity, of welfare sanctions, of public services and local government cut to the bone, and a growing divide between the political class and the rest of the country, have split us down the middle. Divided and angry, looking for something – anything – better than what we have.
But the Brexit the politicians are delivering will do nothing to solve those problem or heal the grievances people rightly feel. It’s not a panacea – it’s a looming disaster for our country. Nobody voted for a Brexit that would see the NHS cut staff, that would drive up the cost of living yet further, or would tear apart families, friends and neighbours.
Meanwhile, the politicians are preparing the way they know best: Michael Gove is planning a Britain after Brexit where citizens are effectively encouraged to trawl through rubbish dumps looking for anything of value, while Liam Fox apparently wants us to be able to import food contaminated with rat faeces and crushed insects as the price to pay for doing a trade deal with Donald Trump.
It would be funny if it wasn’t true.
If I wrote this stuff for TV, incredulous commissioning editors would laugh at me. But the zealots in government who want Brexit are putting their desire for a grip and grin in the Oval Office above the protections and benefits being a member of the EU provide us all.
I’m a Labour man, but even I feel a bit sorry for Theresa May. Torn between her desire to get a good deal, but having to satisfy the ideological cravings of a small political elite in her own party who read too much Ayn Rand at university and want to play out their fantasy politics in the sandbox of Britain, she is leading us down the path to a bad deal or no deal – a lose-lose for everyone.
All summer long, people have been coming to marches and rallies across the country. The trade unions, parts of the Labour Party and all manner of organisations and individuals have thrown their weight behind a People’s Vote as the only viable solution to the self-harm of a botched Brexit.
I support the people having a Final Say on Brexit through a People’s Vote. More than 100,000 people marched through London in June calling for a People’s Vote, and even more are expected this Saturday.
Along with many others, I’ve paid for coaches to bring people from across the UK to London in what could be the biggest march in a generation. That democratic will – that public demand – cannot simply be ignored or written off.
A People’s Vote is not about ignoring the will of the people or downplaying the democratic decision of 2016. Democracy is ongoing, not a one-off event. But if it’s a bad deal – if it harms our country, damages our economy or hurts working people – then we must have the opportunity to scrutinise that deal and make our voice heard.
This is too important for politicians alone to decide. That’s why I support a People’s Vote so the people have a final say on whatever Brexit deal Theresa May comes back with. Let’s step back from the edge and not rush into the void. Let’s decide our own future.
Steve Coogan is an actor, screenwriter and comedian
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.
Sign our petition here