Rennie: Public opinion on Brexit will turn around, just like Iraq


In his address to the David Hume Institute on Monday, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP is set to say that giving the people a say on the terms of Brexit is the democratic thing to do and that Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to ensure democracy is seen throughout the Brexit process.

Mr Rennie will argue that public opinion will turn around once the impact of Brexit becomes apparent just like public opinion changed on the Iraq War in 2003. A majority once supported the war in Iraq but that changed within a year.

Mr Rennie is expected to say:

“We accept the referendum result. But political leaders have got a responsibility to lead. Political leadership is sometimes about persuading people, not just repeating what the last focus group told you. That is followership.  

“In April 2003 people whole heartedly supported Tony Blair’s government. People and the media would howl at Charles Kennedy. But opinions changed.

“Labour through the referendum and since has shown an astonishing level of indifference to the fate of our country.  No challenge, no questions, just compliance. They have turned the fine tradition of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to Her Majesty’s Compliant Opposition.

“If the Brexit deal is damaging to jobs, the economy, our environment and the country’s security why would we not ask the British people a new question?  The public have only witnessed the Brexit shadow-boxing so far. When we see the real consequences of Brexit the punches will be felt.

“That is why I will continue to argue for a public vote on the outcome and to lobby the EU to make sure they are open and ready for that change in public opinion.

“It would only be right for the British people to have the final say on whatever deal is agreed by the Conservative Government with the EU. A Brexit deal referendum would be the right and democratic thing to do.

“Liberal Democrats won’t let bureaucrats and politicians behind closed doors decide our future. We will make sure the British public get the final say.”


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