Who has the final say on Brexit?

Parliament or the people? And which people? Vanessa Baird prepares to march for a confirmatory vote.

An anti-Brexit protest in Manchester, 2018. Credit: Wikicommons

Inside the UK Houses of Parliament, politicians thrash it out in an extraordinary weekend sitting. Can they back the last-minute deal for exiting the European Union that Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson has brought back from Brussels?

Outside hundreds of thousands gather, filling the streets of central London, demanding a People’s Confirmatory Vote on the final deal.

Some analysts reckon the chances of that are greater now than ever. Others that they have receded in the past 48 hours.

According to many, including Labour’s Keir Starmer, Johnson should, if he’s confident of his deal, put it back to the people against an option to remain in the EU and revoke article 50.

It’s all very tricky, for everybody. The Government has no majority and will depend on members of the opposition to get approval for the deal.

If Labour MPs do give their backing -- which is even worse for civil and environmental protections than the previous Theresa May deal they rejected in April -- the party will hemorrhage credibility, certainly among its majority remain supporters.

But if Labour simply rejects the deal, the party will be blamed if the country crashes out without one, doing much more damage to people’s livelihoods and the economy.

One option is an amendment that demands a People’s Vote, a final say – that could go either way. Go with the Johnson-EU brokered deal or Remain in the EU.

And that’s what the hundreds of thousands of protesters outside are demanding, as parliamentarians engage in what has become a political nightmare of epic proportions.

Only the most naïve believe that Brexit will be ‘done’ at the end of all this or that there will be ‘closure’. But maybe some of the damage can be limited and the worst outcome averted.