Steve Bullock @GuitarMoog Immigrant, Musician, Sound Engineer, SNP, ex-negotiator for UK in EU. Brother of @JuliaKayPotts. Supporter of @FinalSayForAll. Nov. 21, 2018 4 min read

As I’ve said before, it’s understandable that people worry about the possibility of voting down the withdrawal agreement leading to an accidental no deal, but I have some serious issues with @AndrewDuffEU’s letter here. 1/

Firstly, I think it is true, as Andrew says, that EU27 are offering an unprecedented partnership for a 3rd country. However, this agreement is not the agreement on the future relationship. As yet, it’s not even the Political Declaration on that (though it will be soon). 2/

The future beyond the transition agreement is impossible to predict, particularly with a UK Govt. in power that, as we have seen, persists with unacheiveable and internally incoherent positions, particularly on the future rel., and that can not negotiate in good faith. 3/

With the best will in the world, negs on the future relationship will be long, complex, and at times tense and difficult. Forget the best will in the world though. Good-will and trust have been burned by UKGov, not matter what show of solidarity with May on Sunday. 4/

And the governance process that Andrew mentions, will not apply to the future relationship, but only to the WA, unless that is agreed in those negotiations. Hard to be sure of EU27 agreeing to such a generous system once the the possibility of No Deal Brexit has passed 5/

So, while their is short term comfort in the WA - in terms of avoiding no deal, that is true - there is little long term comfort, or any guarantee that a good future relationship will be achieved. In fact, with this Govt. & its absurd red lines, I’d say there’s a poor chance. 6/

So Parliament is in the position that this is the last possible moment for it to have a say where the options will not genuinely be deal or no deal. When it comes to the actual future rel, they’ll have little choice but to accept it, or face a new cliff edge post-transition. 8/

So voting for this is voting very nearly blind on the future, and for Parliament to be put in an impossible position of acquiescence or disaster later. I don’t think the EP would, institutionally, stand for that if it were them being put in that position by Council. 10/

In short, agreement is not risk-free in the longer term. 11/

On the issue of taking the risk of no deal seriously, many are, including me, and are proposing and discussing ways to ensure No Deal would be avoided. Opposition party leaders met yesterday to discuss exactly that, and will continue to do so 13/

There are proposals for amendments before vote on the WA motion to rule-out no deal. This one looks to amend the motion itself 14/

I discussed at length the possibility of this type of amendment, and how it could ensure No Deal is is removed as a possibility, but a #peoplesvote on ratify vs remain achieved, here:

Kier Starmer is also looking at the possibility of amending other legislation before the vote on the WA motion to do the same thing 16/ 

So, not only is the risk being taken very seriously, but there may well be ways to eliminate it, either pre-motion via amending other leg, by amending the motion to require a Ratify vs Remain Ref (then voting for it), or through an x-party agreement for action post-vote. 17/

On whether a vote on the deal would be more democratic than the 2016 ref, we now know that that had very serious democratic flaws. Leave broke the law repeatedly & deliberately. The source of major funding and outside influence is deeply suspect & under criminal investigation.18/

Knowing that, and how it was done, it can be run and scrutinised considerably better now. 19/

The landscape regarding fact-checking, and the knowledge of what was done in the 2016 ref, also makes it considerably harder for outright lies a la 2016 to be as effective. Many will be determined not to be fooled again 20/

And finally, I contest the idea that a #peoplesvote would make things worse, more bitter, and more divided. 21/

As I argue here, proceeding with Brexit embeds the problems that led to the vote, and the problems that have been caused by the vote. 22/


A #peoplesvote, which could only be a Ratify vs Remain ref does not fix things. It does however give the opportunity to do so, whereas continuing makes it almost impossible. Things are not just going to go back to normal.24/

Worse, continuing on this path says “this is how it is now”, and makes the appalling state we’ve got ourselves into the new normal. 25/

A #peoplesvote may well be an awful experience. The alternative of continuing though looks much, much worse though, and leaving the EU could end up being not even nearly the worst of the consequences of doing so.26/26

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