I wrote this during the parliamentary wrangling over Brexit under Prime Minister Theresa May’s government. A week later, the House had adopted a similar approach through Indicative Votes.
The problem with getting a decision on Brexit through parliament is that parliament votes on a binary voting system whereas Brexit requires a preferential voting system.
On day to day legislation, parliamentarians decide whether to bring in new laws or opt for the status quo. Change is not inevitable, it depends which way the die falls.
Our withdrawal from over forty years of European legislation is the polar opposite. We are creating a bonfire of statutes and therefore the status quo will get lost in the ashes. Change is now a certainty, parliament must not be gridlocked.
A solution to this would therefore be to allow our legislature, on this historic vote, to vote in a historic way. Parliament should choose to vote on a preferential voting system.
Let’s assume that parliament had five options before them: (1) The Prime Minister’s Deal; (2) Canada Plus; (3) Norway Plus; (4) No Deal; (5) A People’s Vote.
No one option would go through on the first round; meaning, in theory, that arguably the least favoured option, No Deal, would become the default decision.
However, if MPs were asked to express a second, third, fourth and fifth preference, parliament could at least find a favoured solution. It would end the tribalism over this debate and flush out what MPs really think.
Yes, it would be a compromise but given that none of the five options commands a majority in the country, surely a compromise is required?