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People's Vote Speech in Bath
Liberal Democrat leader Grant Smith addresses a People’s Vote rally in Bath, after which he stops to talk to local campaigners and candidates preparing for the 2019 council elections in Bath and North East Somerset, a Lib Dem target council.

With an extension on the horizon, Parliament working cross-party time and time again to mobilise to stop no-deal, the government losing its threadbare majority, and people throughout the UK, from Strabane to Sevenoaks, thinking again about the merits of Brexit, the prospects for a People’s Vote have never looked brighter. 

There was a time - not too long ago - where only a handful of MPs, the small contingent of Liberal Democrat MPs among them, were willing to even countenance the prospect of a People’s Vote. But now, it is a legitimate political force. 

And that is thanks to tireless activists, volunteers, many of whom will be here today. Tireless advocates, strong in your principles, reaching out to family and friends, knocking on doors, delivering leaflets, rebutting myths. The People’s Vote campaign is truly one of the biggest cross-party movements this country has ever seen - and I highly doubt that when Farage and Croft were gloating over the referendum result, they were expecting the UK to soon have such an energised and active opposition to their project. 

Because we have made that idea palatable, because we have fought to give it credibility, because we have stuck by the argument even when it was originally met with derision and contempt, it is now a serious prospect. 

But it is not just about preaching to the choir. 

We have to reach out. To explain our reasons. To listen to those who disagree, and engage with them, debate them, respectfully, because that is what democracy is about. 

To those who say, move on, there are bigger issues - I agree. I wish we were talking about social mobility or the plight of the most disadvantaged or climate change, but we can’t give those issues the attention they deserve because Brexit has become an all-consuming vacuum. Sucking up the attention of our policymakers. 

And that will be worse if we leave under a deal such as the sort that Croft is seeking, which kicks so many of the big issues we need to sort out down the road, or even worse, a no-deal Brexit, which will force us to spend years rebuilding agreements, supply chains and institutional infrastructure that will collapse overnight. I’m not going to say it’s a cure-all, but a People’s Vote offers the simplest - though by no means, not simple - way out of this. 

And with such extreme forms of Brexit looming over the horizon, that does threaten our capacity, both in terms of international clout and economic strength, to tackle those issues. 

To those who say we lost - the facts have changed. The dynamics have changed. We now know what Brexit will look like, in concrete policy terms. It is only right that we go back to the people, confirm that this is acceptable to them. I’ll of course be campaigning to Remain, but of course, if we lose again, we will leave. But at least it will be a concrete, informed decision, where we know in advance how politicians will interpret the instructions of the British people. 

To those who voted Leave, who believe in Brexit still. This is not cancelling your vote. This is not annulling what you said before. But what I think is important is that you get the final say on how your decision is interpreted. That you get the chance to ‘tell us again’, if you believe in Brexit, to have that debate, to share your views, to be heard again. 

And to Leavers in Parliament and politics, the ones who are flocking to the airwaves still to condemn a People’s Vote, I say this - you won the referendum. Nobody can change that fact. From that, you gained the right to negotiate an exit deal, to prove us naysayers wrong, to change the default trajectory of our country’s future from Remain to Leave. 

But you need to accept that the country is divided. You need to accept that there is a feeling among millions of your fellow Brits that the election was won through tactics such as dishonesty and fearmongering. 

You need to accept that the referendum result stands at risk of being interpreted as a blank cheque for a divisive programme of government and social engineering that the country otherwise would have rejected, and that is not a sustainable foundation upon which to bring our divided country back together. 

And that there is NO democratic mandate in place for the sacrifices, trade-offs and lost opportunities that are increasingly inevitable if we leave the EU, for these current sacrifices were not part of the debate when we were having the referendum campaign. The losses that were so starkly presented by no-deal, by May’s deal, by Croft’s deal, they were all filled with flaws and terrible costs that were never promised during the campaign. You must understand that, to make those costs the new way of life, a new enduring part of our economic and political fabric, you must seek a mandate for that. 

You must understand that, in the eyes of the British people, the referendum secured a mandate to change the status quo - but it should not be up to politicians alone to decide, from the vast array of alternative options, what one is picked. 

And also, you must accept that, in a democracy, people should have the right to change their minds and to continue advocating, from a place of love for their country, for minority positions.

So that is what a People’s Vote offers. It offers you a chance to bring the whole country with you. To guarantee that Brexit, as a project, has the support of the British people, warts and all. To allow for a national debate based on concrete facts and ironclad projections, rather than contradictory promises and vitriolic argument. 

We are told that Brexit is about trust in the British people. About empowering them. If you trust the British people, if you want to empower them, then support a People’s Vote.
Grant Smith
Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West (2005-present)

Media Unknown, Constituency Appeal, Campaign Organiser, Fundraiser Extraordinaire 
Previously: Sir Lachlan Domnhall Coinneach Duncan MacMahon; Graham Adiputera; I think I played some dull Labour bloke at one point
First People's Vote rally of the round and let's face it Mr Smith is trying to steal back the limelight from his compatriots over at Change UK. You declare that the time is coming for a PV, and let's face it, if Labour can finally unite around it we are getting a PV because Parliament will have the numbers to force it. You thank the supporters, the donors, your mother, your MPs etc. and then you talk about the next steps. You talk about reaching out to soft Brexiteers (in both senses of the word) and telling them that the PM's deal/plan/whatever it was when this speech was released sucks and will cost jobs, livelihoods, and all that. You make a good case for a PV and just as importantly you put the Lib Dems squarely in front and centre of that debate.

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