I want to make the case that Jo Swinson MP's proposed policy of revoking Article 50 if the Lib Dems win a majority government actually makes stopping Brexit less likely.
Calling for a final say referendum on any Brexit deal has been our defining policy for over three years and has brought this party back to life and back to electoral popularity. The reason a final say referendum has grown in popularity (with the public and in Parliament) is not especially because the arguments for voting Remain have become more persuasive than the arguments for voting Leave, but because it is seen as a sensible way of unblocking the Brexit process. If we change our policy and start calling for revoking Article 50, we risk narrowing our tent and losing people who are beginning to see the logic in having a second plebiscite on this issue.
On Tuesday Sir Oliver Letwin MP voiced his support for a referendum as a way to break the impasse. I fear we risk losing people like Letwin from this growing people's vote coalition with this policy change. It makes us seem like the Brexit Party of Remain in that we will be perceived as Remain at any cost rather than willing to put our case to the public again in a referendum. In my opinion, the Brexit Party has made Brexit less likely as they have popularised the act of Brexit into an extreme 'clean break' scenario which has become untenable for a majority of MPs. If we pursue revoking I fear we will do the same to Remain.
I understand the attraction of going for revoke, we can better distinguish ourselves from Labour and clarify that we want to stop Brexit even further. This may have worked well in a European Parliament election with proportional representation, but in a General Election we need much broader coalitions. With our current policy we can say to even Leavers tired of Brexit that a referendum will end the Brexit mess for good.
So those of you going to Conference on Sunday please consider this policy carefully. We are the most pro-European party in the country, but we are also democrats and our policy of a people's vote to stop Brexit is a product that people have just voted emphatically for in the European elections. Let's not make our message Remain at any cost, but end the Brexit mess so we can move on and fix the real problems in our country.