Bristol MP backs People's Vote eighteen days before Brexit deadline


By Imogen Horton, News Editor

Bristol West's Labour MP, Thangam Debbonaire, has come out in support of a people's vote on the final Brexit deal, with the option to remain in the EU.

In a statement released yesterday, 11 March, Ms Debbonaire said 'the government must ask the people: is this the Brexit you voted for?'.

She continued to say that 'another public vote on the deal looks likely to be the only way of breaking the deadlock'.

Previously, Ms Debbonaire has been publically critical of the People's Vote campaign, standing by a manifesto commitment in the 2017 general election to deliver Brexit. In a Q&A with Bristol University students in December, she announced she was 'not necessarily supportive of a People's Vote'.

However, yesterday, she blamed 'the Prime Minister's incompetence' for her change in decision.

The Bristol MP said: 'The government’s approach to Brexit has been a humiliating failure. From my discussions with people in Bristol, it is clear that ‘no deal’ would be a disaster for our city, for individuals and businesses.'

'The deal on offer is nearly as bad, creating huge uncertainty. I will be voting against it.'

Ms Debbonaire insisted that she still believed that 'the best outcome for the country would be to retain full membership' adding that 'if we are successful in obtaining a further public vote I will campaign hard for remain'.

'Part of the government’s problem is that it is unwilling to recognise a simple fact: There is no Brexit outcome which is as good as staying in the EU.'

Ms Debbonaire's change in stance has been celebrated by local pro-European activists who have lobbied the MP to support the campaign.

James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, who had previously written an open letter asking the MP to support the campaign, said: 'With just 18 days to go until the proposed leaving date, I am glad that Thangam has finally backed our campaign to give the people the chance to break the Brexit deadlock and remain in the European Union.'

'I am thrilled she has finally listened to her constituents and committed to backing a People's Vote with the option of remaining in the EU. She now has to follow through and use her position as whip to get the Labour Party over the line.'

He continued to say: 'The news is somewhat bittersweet. I can't help but wonder what position we would be in now if Labour had stood up for its principles and joined the Liberal Democrat in calling for a final say referendum when we proposed it in 2016.'

Mr Cox also thanked local activists and organisations for their 'amazing hard work and dedication' while fighting the 'Brexit chaos'.

Featured Image: Epigram / Zoe Crowther

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