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Has the governments silence on Brexit now become untenable?

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Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat by-election candidate for Richmond Park, says Yes.

The British people have no cake and they certainly arent eating it. The scribbled notes spied in Downing Street – the publics only way of learning what ministers plan is on the most important question facing the country in a generation – show that five months on from the referendum, this Brexit government is in chaos. There is no danger of damaging the governments bargaining position, because it doesnt have one.

While a poll showed 90 per cent of the public want to remain in the Single Market to avoid a £220bn black hole in our public finances, Prime Minister Theresa May pushes for a hard Brexit that Britain didnt vote for. In Richmond Park alone, 5,000 financial services jobs would be endangered if Britain lost passporting rights to the worlds most lucrative market.

Tomorrow, Richmond Park residents can vote against hard Brexit by rejecting Zac Goldsmith and voting Liberal Democrat. Britains future is in their hands. An earlier by-election killed the poll tax. This by-election could kill hard Brexit.

Alex Deane, managing director at FTI Consulting, says No.

The May governments determination not to “give a running commentary” on Brexit stands in stark and welcome contrast to recent media-focused administrations of both political colours.

It seems that Westminster cant win. Care about the press and youre spin obsessed. Focus on policy and youre starving the public of information and failing to be transparent. We must trust the government to get on with the important task in hand, knowing as we do that revealing too much will undermine negotiations carried out on our behalf.

Sure, giving business a better sense of the broad direction might be welcome. But Mays teams preference for action rather than words is the right one, and when it comes to international, multilateral treaty change, its the negotiation that counts, not bombast and pontificating in the media. Many in the media dislike their diminished role in the political process – which may explain rather a lot of the hostility to the governments approach.

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