The collapse of the Executive, two Assembly elections, a General Election, a new Taoiseach, Trump and the decimation of the Conservative Commons majority.

Steven Agnew is the Leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland.

It’s a year to the day since the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. It’s been remarkable but often disconcerting.

The Green Party campaigned to Remain within the EU with great effort and energy. A year later, we haven’t shifted from our position that the interests of Northern Ireland are best served within the European Union. In fact, events of the past year only emphasise the point.

The fact that one year on we still do not know what Brexit means does not inspire confidence in those negotiating an exit. We still do not know what ‘no hard border’ means in practice. We do not know what opportunities could be lost for our young people. We do not know what social and environmental protections could be lost.

Yet we are being bound to a vote that was taken in ignorance – by all of us. Only when we see the small print will we know what Brexit means. We cannot know until the ink has dried on the final settlement deal in two years’ time.

That is why the Green Party is calling for a referendum of the terms of the final Brexit deal. This referendum would allow us to make an informed decision with the option to remain on the cards. The issue of the border between ourselves and the Republic of Ireland would be set out, we would know what the UK would pay as a final settlement agreement and we would understand what rights EU nationals will have within the UK and indeed UK citizens living across the 27 European states.

It should be up to the people not have the final say, not a weakened Tory government, if it manages to retain power for the next two years.

Public opinion looks to be shifting towards support for a referendum on the final Brexit deal. A recent Survation survey shows that those who oppose a Brexit poll are now in the minority. This comes as a welcome acknowledgment that democracy did not end a year ago.

Theresa May’s leadership certainly doesn’t inspire confidence as the UK enters into discussions with EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier. Indeed, Theresa May’s dismal recent election performance means that she may not stay the course as Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader during these negotiations.

However, if Theresa May succumbs to pressure from within her own ranks, I don’t trust any Tory Prime Minister to put people first during the exit period. I do however trust the democratic process and the ability of the people to make an informed decision when the full facts are available to us in black and white.

That’s why, one year on from the decision to exit the European Union, a referendum on the final Brexit deal is a must.

  • chrisjones2

    “That is why the Green Party is calling for a referendum of the terms of the final Brexit deal. ”

    You can call but no-one is listening and we ARE leaving

  • aquifer

    It is not clear that parliament has taken the legal steps needed to do this.

    Nevertheless it is shameful that the MPs have let it appear that they are going along with something that the majority of them know will do great harm.

  • chrisjones2

    I disagree. The EU is withering and we have a bright long term future outside it but trading with it as a friendly neighbour

  • belfastconfetti

    I know that it’s pedantic but neither the Conservative representation in the Commons nor its – non existent – majority has been decimated.

  • aquifer
  • aquifer

    Was the vote really for leave, or was it for “none of the usual political suspects”

    The French have a better answer (and proportional representation)

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/patrice-de-beer/macron-and-absolute-responsibility

  • aquifer

    Is that what the stock and currency markets are saying?

  • belfastconfetti

    it was clearly for leave in the referendum – so clearly that both major parties put leave into their manifesto as a committment. Given a choice between soft leave and hard leave the voters chose the committment to hard leave, the only alternative with an absolute majority in parliament. We have PR in Northern Ireland and see what marvellous government that produces. In any case, the UK has made the decision to leave, referendum confirmed by General Election and our sovereign parliament has all the authority it needs to make it happen. Hurrah!

  • aquifer

    Not so clear now that many of those leave voters deceived by systematic lies about funding the NHS have now passed, and young voters now know their way to the polling station. PR in NI is deemed insufficient to herd voters in their sectarian pens, so SFDUP use former combatants to drive voters to vote for the politically unfeasible. The house of commons is a run down firetrap, the parties are ideologically if not financially bankrupt, MPs seem to have much more ego than ability. The Tory press saw EU regulation coming and voted for Christmas, with poor working British voters the turkeys. Rich foreign plutocrats paid to use the internet and social media to run this sucker show. Sit back and enjoy. I have my EU passport and will vote again.

  • belfastconfetti

    What planet are you in orbit around? How many elections do you need before you accept the result?

  • aquifer

    I live on the one with GATT rules, trading blocks, and H-bombs. You are welcome back anytime.

  • Thon Brocket

    Second referendum? Aye, right.

    Let’s give the already pissed-off and vengeful EU bosses the best possible incentive to concede nothing in the negotiation, and force the worst possible Brexit deal.

    Yeah, let’s give them two-plus solid years in which to load the dice and work towards the always-preferred EU chicane of repeating the referendum until they get the answer they want.

    Brilliant strategy. Have another sherry, Steven.

  • chrisjones2

    No so clear how many who voted remain were misled by systematic lies of Project Fear

  • chrisjones2

    FTSE is up about 15% on July 16. Pound is down but that’s good for exports. Now what’s yer problem?

  • chrisjones2

    For all the talk of weakened Tory Government etc Stephen you lead a NI party with no representation at Westminster and a lower vote than the TUV. The Greens really do need to adjust. At the moment you appear like a cult ever waiting and praying for a disaster so you san say “Told you that would happen”. So far the only real disaster has been RHI

  • aquifer

    European markets are up. The value of UK shares in falling pounds has risen because the foreign earnings of UK companies are worth more when valued in fallen pounds.

  • The worm!

    How about addressing the fact that the infamous RHI scheme of which you were so critical (and rightly so!), had to be firstly, introduced to satisfy an EU directive on energy from renewables. And secondly, had to be incentivised to the degree that it was to ensure uptake of the scheme or we would be hit with financial penalties.

    How about addressing the fact that this past winter, due to EU regulations, farmers were banned from spreading organic waste on their land during one of the driest spells of the year. But then had to start spreading their waste at a time which co-incided with wet weather, causing much more pollution of the waterways than would have happened if left to their own devices.

    How about addressing the fact that the EU banned one of the most effective grassland herbicides from being used in a knapsack sprayer, meaning that rather then being to able to use it to “spot treat”, the entire area must be sprayed increasing the use of the chemical by at least a factor of ten, frequently more!

    So exactly how does a party which is supposed to care for the environment, justify it’s support for an organisation which has done, and continues to do, so much harm to it?

    Also, instead of moaning and complaining about the effects of Brexit and acting negatively, should you not be turning your attention to Westminster and lobbying hard already to positively influence legislation in the post-EU era?

  • hugh mccloy

    Straw clutching politics, the green party has long since turned its back on the environment, it has become a social policy party who social policy is akin to its membership. The green family across the eu have had some pretty out there ideas and policies one that included softening pedophilia in Germany.