We must be prepared to revoke Article 50 to stop a scorched-earth Brexit

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It could be the heady London temperatures or the invasion of Number 10 by feverish advisers, but Westminster is dangerously close to reaching boiling point.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson short-circuited democracy by deliberately and recklessly banning Parliament from voicing its opinion on the British Government’s Brexit policy during the forthcoming crucial weeks.

Be under no illusion, the Prime Minster rigged the rules to silence those individuals who were elected to represent their constituents’ best interests.

His actions are those of a coward and a bully who fears scrutiny and seeks to scapegoat others for actions that are entirely his own responsibility. This uncompromising path towards a crash out Brexit is being laid by a tin-pot dictator, intent on leaving the European Union by October 31st on a ‘do or die’, regardless of the consequences.

To this self-serving Prime Minister and his Government, it’s all a game.

After all, whatever the outcome of Brexit, they will still be rich and powerful.  There’s no risk for them as they willingly gamble with ordinary people’s livelihoods and security.

This unelected Prime Minister is not only content on placing a gagging order on Parliamentarians, he is conning the public out of a final say on one of the biggest political events in a generation.

His vision is democracy in denial.

My party has been steadfast in its conviction that a People’s Vote is the best way of solving the Brexit dilemma in a just and proper way. Just last week I attended a constructive cross-party meeting in Westminster with other Opposition Party Leaders where I put forward my party’s preference for a People’s Vote instead of a General Election. A General Election, according to recent polling, would produce another Conservative minority government and succeed only in prolonging the crippling uncertainty.

Despite our political differences, a joint legislative approach was agreed upon as the best course of action in Parliament to avoid a catastrophic crash out. This show of unity is what triggered Number 10 into taking such extreme action on Wednesday.

Despite PM Johnson’s cynical machinations, hope lies in a successful joint legislative approach, and Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Group will continue to cooperate with like-minded parties to do all it takes to get it over the line.

But as time gets tight, I am beginning to realise that it is not enough to tinker around the edges.

There is no point throwing the rulebook at those in power because they are making the rules up as they go along. They are not operating within the confines of parliamentary procedure as we know it and they have no tolerance for the rules of fair play.

We need to come up with solutions which will achieve decisive outcomes.

That is why I am announcing today that if the electorate is denied a final say on the Brexit outcome through a referendum, we must be prepared to revoke Article 50.

When faced with the hard reality of who and what we are up against, the Remain side must have a nuclear option to fall back on if it becomes clear that a public voice by means of a referendum is to be denied.

As the courts have ruled, the UK can revoke its intention to withdraw from the EU unilaterally.

It is an emergency cord we need to be ready to pull.

The Prime Minister may have succeeded in silencing Westminster, but he has not got his hands on our Senedd in Cardiff.  He cannot silence us there and when our Welsh Parliament is recalled on Thursday I will be making the case loud and clear for Revoke to be the Brexit safety net our nation needs. 

Furthermore, I have asked the Plaid Cymru Westminster Group to draft an emergency motion outlining our support for remain and revoke under those circumstances to be discussed and voted at our party’s autumn conference.

I am no advocate of meeting fire with fire.  But when faced with the inferno that a crash out Brexit would create, I am not sure that even Boris Johnson’s unused water cannons would do the trick. 

We must be prepared to revoke Article 50 to stop a scorched-earth Brexit.


This article originally appeared in the Sunday Times (1st September 2019)

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