Gove warns fresh Brexit referendum would be seen as INSULT by voters

Gove warns fresh Brexit referendum would be seen as INSULT by voters

December 2, 2018

‘You’re saying they were too thick the first time’: Gove warns fresh Brexit referendum would be seen as an INSULT by voters as he backs May’s deal despite admitting it is ‘uncomfortable’

  • Michael Gove delivers stark warning about danger of second Brexit referendum
  • Said it would ‘rip social fabric’ by telling voters they were ‘too thick’ to decide
  • Theresa May fighting to salvage her Brexit deal ahead of crunch Commons vote 
  • Defiant PM vows to cling on insisting she has a ‘lot more to do’ before quitting 
  • Around 100 Tory MPs, Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems vowing to oppose her plan 
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Michael Gove today warned that a second Brexit referendum would ‘rip apart the social fabric’ of the UK.

The Environment Secretary said any attempt to re-run the historic vote would do terrible damage to ‘faith in democracy’ – as it would effectively be telling the public they were ‘too thick’ to choose properly.

Mr Gove, a leading light in the Leave campaign, also gave firm backing for Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU, while he admitting key parts of it made him ‘uncomfortable’.

He suggested the PM’s package was ‘better’ than a Norway-style fallback plan being mooted by some ministers – but did not completely rule out the idea.

The intervention, in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, came after Mrs May vowed defiance as she stares down the barrel of a catastrophic Commons defeat.

Michael Gove, a leading light in the Leave campaign, also gave firm backing for Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU, while he admitting key parts of it made him ‘uncomfortable’

The premier insisted she will face down massive opposition from more than 100 Tory rebels, Labour, theSNP and the Lib Dems to the package she thrashed out with the EU.

She said the next nine days will ‘determine the future’ of the UK. 

But she was humiliatingly forced to deny that the G20 summit in Argentina could be her last foreign trip as PM – saying there is ‘a lot more for me still to do’.

The scale of the challenge facing Mrs May was underlined over the weekend with the resignation of universities minister Sam Gyimah, who joined demands for a second referendum.

One No10 aide is reported to have complained that the PM is acting like Hitler in his bunker at the end of the Second World War, insisting victory can still be secured.  

  • ‘There’s a lot more for me to do’: Defiant May vows to cling… Labour WILL call confidence vote in May if she loses crunch…

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Despite the mounting woes, Mr Gove said he still believed the government can win the crucial Commons vote on December 11. 

He said the alternative was either ‘no deal or no Brexit’.

‘I believe that we can win the argument and win the vote. I know it is challenging,’ he said.

‘I reflected long and hard about this deal but I concluded, like lots of people, that while it is imperfect it is the right thing to do.

‘One of the things that I hope people will have the chance to do over the next nine days is to recognise that we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Theresa May insisted she will face down massive opposition from more than 100 Tory rebels, Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems to the package she thrashed out with the EU

‘We have got to recognise that if we don’t vote for this, the alternatives are no deal or no Brexit.’

Asked about the growing pressure for a fresh referendum, Mr Gove warned that it would be highly damaging for the country,

He said he believed Leave would win any contest by more than in 2016. 

‘I  actually think if there were a second referendum people would vote to leave the EU in larger numbers than before,’ he said.

‘But the very act of calling a second referendum I believe would damage faith in democracy and rip apart the social fabric of the country.’  

He said: ‘Why are we asking people again – on the basis they got it wrong the last time around? 

‘They were too thick to make the decision then, were they?’ 

Mr Gove acknowledged he was uncomfortable about the Irish border ‘backstop’ in the Brexit deal, but said that if it was activated it would be even more uncomfortable for the EU.

‘The critical thing about the backstop is however uncomfortable it is for the UK, it is more uncomfortable for the European Union,’ he said.

‘We will have tariff-free access to their markets without paying a penny. And, more than that, we will have control of our borders.

‘While it does contain elements that for a Unionist or for a Brexiteer aren’t perfect, it also contains elements that for any European politician would allow them to see Britain having a competitive advantage over their own country and their own economy.

‘This fundamentally works against the interests of the single market and against the interests of European nations.’

He dismissed a claim by French president Emmanuel Macron that the EU would be able to use the backstop to extract concessions from Britain over access to fisheries.

‘He doesn’t have us over a barrel. We have got him over a barrel of herring and a barrel of mackerel. He wants that access to our waters. We can sit in the backstop and say ‘No, absolutely not’,’ he said. 

Is May’s deal already sunk? 100 Tories have already come out against it meaning she must find almost 100 votes from Brexiteer rebels, DUP and Labour to get it through the Commons

Theresa May has secured her deal in Brussels but her fight to get it actually in place in time for Brexit day is just beginning.

The ‘meaningful vote’ promised to MPs will happen on December 11 and is the single biggest hurdle to the Brexit deal happening – and Mrs May’ fate as PM.

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

The number is less than half because the four Speakers, 7 Sinn Fein MPs and four tellers will not take part.

The situation looks grim for Mrs May and her whips: now the deal has been published, 100 of her own MPs and the 10 DUP MPs have publicly stated they will join the Opposition parties in voting No.

This means the PM could have as few as 225 votes in her corner – leaving 410 votes on the other side, a landslide majority 185.

This is how the House of Commons might break down:

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

The Government (plus various hangers-on)

Who are they: All members of the Government are the so-called ‘payroll’ vote and are obliged to follow the whips orders or resign. It includes the Cabinet, all junior ministers, the whips and unpaid parliamentary aides.

There are also a dozen Tory party ‘vice-chairs and 17 MPs appointed by the PM to be ‘trade envoys’.

How many of them are there? 178.

What do they want? For the Prime Minister to survive, get her deal and reach exit day with the minimum of fuss.

Many junior ministers want promotion while many of the Cabinet want to be in a position to take the top job when Mrs May goes.

How will they vote? With the Prime Minister.

European Research Group Brexiteers demanding a No Confidence Vote

Who are they: The most hard line of the Brexiteers, they launched a coup against Mrs May after seeing the divorce. Led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker.

How many of them are there: 26

What do they want: The removal of Mrs May and a ‘proper Brexit’. Probably no deal now, with hopes for a Canada-style deal later.

How will they vote: Against the Prime Minister.

Other Brexiteers in the ERG

Who are they: There is a large block of Brexiteer Tory MPs who hate the deal but have so far stopped short of moving to remove Mrs May – believing that can destroy the deal instead. They include ex Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and ex minister Owen Paterson.

Ex ministers like Boris Johnson and David Davis are also in this group – they probably want to replace Mrs May but have not publicly moved against her.

How many of them are there? Around 50.

What do they want? The ERG has said Mrs May should abandon her plans for a unique trade deal and instead negotiate a ‘Canada plus plus plus’ deal.

This is based on a trade deal signed between the EU and Canada in August 2014 that eliminated 98 per cent of tariffs and taxes charged on goods shipped across the Atlantic.

The EU has long said it would be happy to do a deal based on Canada – but warn it would only work for Great Britain and not Northern Ireland.

How will they vote: Against the Prime Minister.

Remain including the People’s Vote supporters

Who are they: Tory MPs who believe the deal is just not good enough for Britain. They include the group of unrepentant Remainers who want a new referendum like Anna Soubry and ex-ministers who quit over the deal including Jo Johnson and Phillip Lee.

How many of them are there: Maybe around 10.

What do they want? To stop Brexit. Some want a new referendum, some think Parliament should step up and say no.

A new referendum would take about six months from start to finish and they group wants Remain as an option on the ballot paper, probably with Mrs May’s deal as the alternative.

How will they vote? Against the Prime Minister.

Moderates in the Brexit Delivery Group (BDG) and other Loyalists

Who are they? A newer group, the BDG counts members from across the Brexit divide inside the Tory Party. It includes former minister Nick Boles and MPs including Remainer Simon Hart and Brexiteer Andrew Percy.

There are also lots of unaligned Tory MPs who are desperate to talk about anything else.

How many of them are there? Based on public declarations, about 48 MPs have either said nothing or backed the deal.

What do they want? The BDG prioritises delivering on Brexit and getting to exit day on March 29, 2019, without destroying the Tory Party or the Government. If the PM gets a deal the group will probably vote for it.

It is less interested in the exact form of the deal but many in it have said Mrs May’s Chequers plan will not work.

Mr Boles has set out a proposal for Britain to stay in the European Economic Area (EEA) until a free trade deal be negotiated – effectively to leave the EU but stay in close orbit as a member of the single market.

How will they vote? With the Prime Minister.


Who are they? The Northern Ireland Party signed up to a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Conservative Party to prop up the Government.

They are Unionist and say Brexit is good but must not carve Northern Ireland out of the Union.

How many of them are there? 10.

What do they want? A Brexit deal that protects Northern Ireland inside the UK.

How will they vote? Against the Prime Minister on the grounds they believe the deal breaches the red line of a border in the Irish Sea.

Labour Loyalists

Who are they? Labour MPs who are loyal to Jeremy Corbyn and willing to follow his whipping orders.

How many of them are there? Up to 250 MPs depending on exactly what Mr Corbyn orders them to do.

What do they want? Labour policy is to demand a general election and if the Government refuses, ‘all options are on the table’, including a second referendum.

Labour insists it wants a ‘jobs first Brexit’ that includes a permanent customs union with the EU. It says it is ready to restart negotiations with the EU with a short extension to the Article 50 process.

The party says Mrs May’s deal fails its six tests for being acceptable.

How will they vote? Against the Prime Minister’s current deal.

Labour Rebels

Who are they? A mix of MPs totally opposed to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, some Labour Leave supporters who want a deal and some MPs who think any deal will do at this point.

How many of them are there? Maybe 10 to 20 MPs but this group is diminishing fast – at least for the first vote on the deal.

What do they want? An orderly Brexit and to spite Mr Corbyn.

How will they vote? With the Prime Minister.

Other Opposition parties

Who are they? The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Green Caroline Lucas and assorted independents.

How many of them are there? About 60 MPs.

How will they vote? Mostly against the Prime Minister – though two of the independents are suspended Tories and two are Brexiteer former Labour MPs. 

What might happen if May loses her meaningful vote on the deal?

Having finalised her Brexit deal, Theresa May now has to put it to the Commons – a vote almost everyone thinks she will lose.

What happens next on the road to Brexit is very hard to forecast – but amid the chaos there are a series of routes which politicians could take.

These are six scenarios for how Brexit might play out:   

May renegotiates with Brussels and wins a second meaningful vote

This appears to be the Government’s current strategy. After MPs vote down the deal, the markets react with horror and Mrs May flies to Brussels to ask for help.

She either gets some new concessions or the EU says there really is nothing else.

Either way, Mrs May come back to the Commons and asks MPs to vote again – and wins as rebels back down in the face of no deal chaos and plunging markets.   

May renegotiates with Brussels but loses a second vote – triggering a confidence vote and a new Tory PM who orders a second referendum

Mrs May’s deal is defeated a second time in the Commons and Labour immediately calls a vote of confidence in the Government – which is lost.

Mrs May resigns as Prime Minister and is replaced in a quickfire Tory leadership contest. The winner is installed in No 10 but warned by the DUP the deal is still unacceptable.

Admitting there is no way to win a confidence vote and no renegotiation with Brussels, the new PM orders a second referendum on the deal or Brexit with no deal at all. 

This would probably require the Prime Minister to delay Brexit by extending the Article 50 process. 

May’s Brexit deal is rejected a second time in the House of Commons – she resigns and the new Prime Minister calls for a General Election to break the impasse 

Mrs May resigns immediately after her deal is rejected by the House of Commons for a second time. She stays on long enough in No 10 for a Tory leadership contest.

The new Prime Minister declares they want a mandate for their own version of Brexit and says they want a majority in the House of Commons to deliver it. 

Labour seizes on the chance to go to the polls and Tory MPs reluctantly vote in the Commons for a snap election in late January or early February.

The Government is re-elected with a majority and passes its version of the deal.  

May switches to support for a No Deal Brexit after MPs reject her plan – but Labour wins a vote demanding a new referendum with support from Tory Remain rebels 

After Mrs May’s deal is rejected by MPs, the Prime Minister insists the will of the Commons is clear and Brexit must be pursued without a deal.

She wins a confidence vote among all MPs and is able to cling to power while she drives the country toward exit day without a deal. 

Labour demands an election but ignored by the PM, takes its earliest opportunity to table a motion in the Commons which condemns a no deal Brexit and calls for a new referendum on Brexit. 

The motion passes – while it has no effect in law it changes the political mood dramatically. The Prime Minister says she cannot ignore the clear will of Parliament and starts the process of a new referendum.

May is replaced by a new Tory Prime Minister who immediately calls an election – but Labour wins with a promise for a referendum

After losing her deal in the Commons, Mrs May is replaced in a rapid leadership election. The new Tory Prime Minister immediately calls an election.

In the belief it can win by switching against Brexit, Labour changes its policy and puts a new referendum in its manifesto.

Polling day comes in late January and Mr Corbyn is returned as Prime Minister. 

He immediately goes to Brussels, gets a six month extension to Article 50 and starts the process of calling a new referendum on a Remain or Leave with a new deal question. 

The deal is defeated and after a no confidence vote, Remain MPs break party lines to back a new PM to form a national government that calls a referendum

Mrs May resigns amid chaos following a confidence vote – starting two weeks of limbo before a new election must be called in the absence of a Government.

In the vacuum, an MP calls on people across the Commons to break party lines and form a national government. The group forces a motion onto the floor of the House, possibly via the backbench business committee.

In a surprise result, the motion not only carries but has support of more than half of MPs – shifting the politics and prompting the new leader to be invited to form their national government.

The new Prime Minister calls a referendum with Remain, No Deal or May’s deal on the ballot paper – with a second round run off to decide the final settlement.  

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