James Heappey Weekly Column

It is not what I wanted but Parliament has chosen to kick the can down the road and to delay Brexit whilst we seek a way forward that could command a majority in the House of Commons. We don't seem to be going anywhere very quickly. 

Many people will read this and say that I'm making a compelling case for a second referendum - if Parliament can't decide then the people must. However the paralysis in Parliament is caused by too many options still being on the table. Some colleagues are hoping to revoke Article 50 and bin Brexit altogether, Others want a second referendum as they represent leave-voting seats and haven't the courage to admit that they're just trying to block Brexit too. Others want a soft Brexit akin to the Norwegian model. Others want something softer still whilst others are happy with the deal. Some want a harder Brexit but with a deal nonetheless. And some just want to walk away without any deal whatsoever. 

A second referendum would be a straight choice between the Deal or Remain. Or it would be a straight choice between the Deal or No Deal. Either way it would be a binary choice and, if facing such a choice, Parliament wold have this cracked in hours. By the same token, however, if we gave the wider population the same smorgasbord of choices we're considering in Parliament, a referendum would deliver exactly the same indecision. Parliament needs to accept we're leaving and then decide on how. Nobody - Parliament or the nation as a whole - will get anywhere for as long as we're considering every permutation possible.