Barry Gardiner: People’s Vote on Brexit could lead to civil disobedience

Posted On: 
21st August 2018

Barry Gardiner has rubbished calls for a People’s Vote saying that it could lead to civil disobedience.

Barry Gardiner dismissed calls for a second vote on Brexit
Credit: 
PA Images

Labour's Shadow InternationalTrade Secretary refused to lend his support to a growing campaign for a so-called People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, saying that it could give “succour to the extreme right”.

Speaking to the Today programme, the pro-Remain MP said that the “democratic principles” of the country would be at stake if a second vote went ahead.

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He said: “What we said on the doorstep to people, whether we were Leave or Remain campaigners, was: ‘please go out and vote on Thursday not because it would be nice to know what you think but because what you decide on Thursday will determine the future for our country for the next 40 or 50 years.’

“Now, we meant it. If we then go back on that, yes it may well be, and I certainly believe that we will in the short and medium term be worse off economically as a result of Brexit and certainly the way the Government is going that is what is happening, and it is not about happily putting us in that position, it is saying that there is more to this than simple economics.

“There is also the social, the democratic principles at play here.

Mr Gardiner also hit out at politicians calling for a second referendum, saying they were offering people who got the vote “wrong” another chance to stop Brexit.

“That undermines the whole principle of democracy in this country”, he said.

“And you know, you never give as much succour to the extreme right as when you cut off the mechanism of democratic change.

“People want to be able to achieve change through democratic means, if they feel that that is being denied to them, they then turn to other more socially disruptive ways of expressing their views, and that is the danger here.”

But the Labour frontbencher denied he was suggesting a second vote could end with violence on the streets, adding: “What I am saying is that in any situation, if people feel the route to change is no longer a democratic route then you look towards social disruption, perhaps civil disobedience in a different way.

“This is playing with our democracy, it is playing with the foundations of country in a way that is really really damaging.

“We have to respect people’s votes in that referendum. We told them we would, and we must do it.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who is a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign, hit back at Mr Gardiner's comments, saying: “It is extraordinary to suggest that having a People’s Vote on the terms of Brexit would be damaging to democracy. What would really be damaging and divisive would be to force a bad Brexit deal or a disastrous no deal Brexit on the British people without receiving their consent.

“With support growing across the UK for a People’s Vote on the terms of Brexit, it cannot be right for politicians in Westminster to ignore the voices of millions of citizens, and instead to plough ahead with a reckless Brexit that they know will make us all poorer. That would be a democratic failure.

“The people of this country can see that the politicians are making a shambolic mess of Brexit. That’s why the growing momentum behind the People’s Vote campaign cannot be ignored any longer.”