The National Forum of the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) held on June 30th, 2018 agreed to take up the issue of a Ratification referendum over Theresa May’s Brexit Proposals (http://radicalindyedinburgh.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-case-for-eu-ratification-referendum.html). A letter advocating this course of action was published in The National on 24.7.18.
A ratification referendum could unite those in RIC who supported a Remain vote, and those who supported a Leave vote. The crisis over Brexit has brought about a new situation where Lexiters and Left Remainers have different views of the way to move forward. RIC has continued to organise discussions, where both sides could put their case. Cat Boyd put the case for a new Lexit campaign in her letter to The National on 18.11.18, to which Allan wrote a reply 0n 27.11.18.
But in his new letter published in The National on Sunday on 17.2.19, Allan Armstrong argues that the time for this has now passed. He advocates a different course of action needed to meet the current political situation. Allan’s new letter to the National on Sunday is also written from the perspective of a critical Remainer.
LETTER TO THE NATIONAL ON SUNDAY, 17.2.19
In all the bourach surrounding Brexit at Westminster, no particular alternative commanding majority support has yet come forward. Last year The National published a letter I had written suggesting that Holyrood organise a ratification referendum over Mays’s proposed Brexit deal (24.7.18). The Scottish people have already voted decisively to reject Brexit, so there is no need to re-run the original 2016 Leave/Remain referendum. One of the most important things about a Holyrood organised referendum is that it could have included all those EU residents and 16-18 year olds who voted in IndyRef1. An additional benefit of a Holyrood run a ratification referendum is that it would have given focus to the Scottish independence campaign at a time when May had put the shutters up on any IndyRef2.
Given the Tories’ continued resort to all the most anti-democratic powers given to the government under the Crown-in-Westminster set-up, it is unlikely that May would then have conceded some separate Scottish deal. Separate deals are only made for those who want to reinforce all the most reactionary aspects of the Union, like the DUP in Northern Ireland. However, it would have forced the smug Scottish Tories to defend their constant Brexit U-turns. But more importantly, by organising a referendum that included those excluded in 2016, this would have shone a spotlight on the profoundly anti-democratic way by which the Right’s Brexit vote victory was achieved. And given that the Cameron government was responsible for agreeing the franchise criteria in both the IndyRef1 and the EU membership referenda, it would also have shown up the Tories’ hypocrisy.
The time has now run out for any ratification referendum in Scotland, and the possibility of supporting the so-called Peoples Vote has attracted SNP MP’s support. To allow a rerun of the original EU referendum is to invite trouble. The people most affected by any Brexit are EU residents and 16-18 year olds. Their voice needs to be heard, as May and Corbyn manouevre to introduce a new gastarbeiter system of labour control in the new Immigration Bill. We have had to fight a series of defensive battles to stop the Home Office deporting people from Scotland. Our most recent success, supported by SNP MPs, has been the case of Iranian born Rezvan Habibimarand and Mozaffar Saberi.
However, instead of mounting a series of rearguard actions to defend people the UK state deems not to be British subjects, we need to start by including EU residents (and 16-18 year olds) as part of our people. Therefore, if a People’s Vote proposal is placed before Westminster, it should only be backed by SNP MPs, following an amendment restoring the franchise arrangements made for IndyRef1.
Allan Armstrong, 15.2.19
and for an earlier response written immediately after the Brexit vote see:-