Thoughts for a third EU Referendum: Revoke Article 50 OR Leave with “a” deal

Published on May 10, 2019

The Government has held a re-negotiation of our relationship with the EU that promises - at least in the short run – to make everyone worse off, less secure, and diminished in the eyes of the world. Emotionally, we have already `left’ the EU, so the pro-Europe campaign must set out a positive case to answer the question of why we want to `join’ Europe.


  • Analysing public opinion on matters of concern: the broad conclusion is that UK and EU27 citizens currently share the same concerns about policy set at the Union level (other than Brexit). Can Europe help fulfil our aspirations in policy areas where it has a say? (NB: Education, housing, roads, railways etc. are nothing to do with Europe. Leaving Europe cannot solve these problems.) The EU is evolving rapidly to tackle these concerns. We should remain a full member if sharing the EU’s policies in the near future make it more likely that Britain can deliver its own commitments to its own people.
  • Understanding the detailed implications of a future relationship: Once Parliament is finally persuaded to vote for “a” deal, it must be carefully checked to see if it might be accepted by the EU27. Its peoples also have a “will” and the evidence is that they will not tolerate any unwinding of the single market that would give the UK frictionless trading access to their market.
  • Parliament as a whole should provide electors with a detailed, comparative report on the deal. Each elector would be sent an easy-read summary of a major Parliamentary report comparing and contrasting the assessment of the future relationship versus staying as we are. No-one could then say they were not informed about the actual choices.
  • Recognition of an “unfavourable” deal: In the first, 1975 referendum, the negotiation of a “favourable” deal produced a rapid, decisive swing in the opinion polls toward staying in. The final result was a 66:33 vote to stay. What will an increasingly obvious demonstration of the proposed current “unfavourable deal” do? What will be the impact on public opinion if the economic data in the months before a People’s Vote suggest that “the experts” are indeed turning out to be right? The Parliamentary Report (above) is likely to expose the bland statements by the Leavers in 2016 and amplify the detail of the likely damage shown by the Government’s existing analysis.
  • National healing: There must be a crash programme to alleviate the problems explicitly identified with localised migration problems. The finance would come from a temporary `solidarity’ tax surcharge until the next General Election in 2022. (Note: 1p on income tax would raise about £20 billion in this period). We need to identify how other EU states deal with the problems such as benefit tourism under the existing Treaties and implement corresponding policies in the UK.

Whatever the result of the Third Referendum, a formal decision would then be made by Parliament within a few days to Leave OR, to revoke the Article 50 notice of intention to leave. That would end the damaging uncertainty immediately.


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Graham Bishop is vice-chair of the European Movement and an experienced consultant on European Integration. You can sign up to receive his briefings and more at

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