FROM every broadcast Brexit debate I’ve heard, and from what I hear around me, it seems clear that the people’s choice at the moment is ‘a people’s vote.’ So let’s look at this ‘people’s vote’– the phrase and what it means.

Of course we’ve already had a ‘people’s vote’ on the EU. It was called a referendum. We had to press for it for decades and – in the invariable way of referendums – it came only when those granting it were confident the vote would go their way.

But we, the British people, confounded the Establishment by not doing as we were told. So now there must be another vote. But there’s a curious inversion. While the first referendum sprang from the grass roots, and thereby was a true ‘people’s vote’, the new one is the idea of the Establishment, which nonetheless dubs it a ‘people’s vote.’

The Liberal Democrats seem to have coined the term. Certainly it was from the lips of their leader, Sir Vince Cable, that I first heard it, and he never speaks of Brexit without uttering it.

Tony Blair, as ardent an EU lover as Sir Vince, seems to avoid it.

Yet, overcoming his professed distaste for referendums, he says much the same thing by talking of taking Brexit “back to the people”.

And indeed, what could be more democratic? But this ‘people’s vote’ is a trap. It’s a seducer’s ploy. It is like the blandishments of the master of the house to get the maid into his bedroom and do his worst.

For the advocates of a ‘people’s vote’ have reserved it until they believe they have manipulated ‘the people’ to the point where they will vote as they should.

We keep hearing that we now “know more” of the effects of Brexit – adverse, every one. But the vital reason for leaving the EU hasn’t changed one jot. It is that the people of the EU, all 508 million of them, including us, can’t change its government. We can’t vote our EU lawmakers in or out.

A ‘people’s vote’ locking us into this would be like banishing the democracy we have fought for if not since Magna Carta of 1215, which was exclusively an upper-class affair, but certainly since the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.

Votes for property-owning men; votes for all men; votes for some women; votes for all women: each and all of these painfully achieved landmarks towards our properly-representative democracy would become meaningless.

And anyway, what question(s) would be asked in the ‘people’s vote’? Certainly not just In or Out, probably still unlikely to deliver a strong majority either way.

Ideally it should put the three options facing the UK: Mrs May’s deal; Remain; or No Deal. The latter would be correctly presented as World Trade Organisation rules – which in fact cover most trade in the world, including ours with scores of countries. Fully understood, this might win.

So it won’t be an option. But, offered only Mrs May’s deal or Remain, many Leavers would probably abstain in protest.

Remain would win hands down. Job done – not by ‘the people’ but the Establishment.

And you can be sure it would be a very long time before you heard the phrase ‘people’s vote’, or even ‘referendum,’ from them again.