Second Brexit referendum would be a disaster, warns MayDecember 17, 2018
Second Brexit referendum would be a disaster, warns Theresa May: British PM fires back after claims that her own allies support behind Tony Blair’s call for a new vote
- PM to warn Commons that second Brexit referendum would cause damage to UK
- She will all but rule out holding a second vote while she remains in charge
- It comes amid anger over revelation that her staff backed a second referendum
Theresa May will warn tomorrow that a second Brexit referendum would cause ‘irreparable damage’ to Britain, as she tries to defuse anger at the news that her own aides have floated the idea.
In the Commons, the Prime Minister will all but rule out holding a second vote while she remains in charge.
Another referendum would ‘likely leave us no further forward than the last… and further divide our country at the very moment we should be working to unite it’, she will warn.
Theresa May will warn tomorrow that a second Brexit referendum would cause ‘irreparable damage’ to Britain, as she tries to defuse anger at the news that her own aides have floated the idea. Pictured, Mrs May throws a ball for a border collie called Blitz as she and her husband Philip leave following a church service near her Maidenhead constituency
Mrs May launched a blistering attack yesterday on Tony Blair for backing a second referendum
Mrs May is expected to add: ‘Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum, another vote which would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics, because it would say to millions who trusted in democracy that our democracy does not deliver.’
Her intervention comes amid mounting anger over the revelation that chief-of-staff Gavin Barwell and deputy David Lidington had backed the idea of a second referendum.
MPs and ministers reacted furiously to reports yesterday that Mr Barwell had told colleagues a second poll was ‘the only way forward’ in the light of opposition to her Brexit deal. In social media messages yesterday, Mr Barwell said he was not planning for a second referendum.
Mr Lidington also raised eyebrows after it emerged he held secret talks last week with Labour MPs in favour of another poll.
The news is embarrassing for Mrs May, who insists her Brexit deal is still alive and who yesterday launched a blistering attack on Tony Blair for backing a second referendum.
Mrs May’s intervention comes amid mounting anger over the revelation that chief-of-staff Gavin Barwell and deputy David Lidington (pictured) had backed the idea of a second referendum
Former Cabinet minister Priti Patel said a second vote would be a ‘betrayal’, adding: ‘Those behind this have been against Brexit from day one. This is simply an attempt to overturn the will of the people.
‘The Cabinet need to stop looking for excuses and deliver on the referendum mandate.’
Robert Halfon, another former minister, urged Mr Barwell and Mr Lidington to deny the reports publicly. He added: ‘It would be a complete betrayal of what Theresa May said about respecting the 2016 People’s Referendum, and moreover a betrayal of democracy, of the 17million-plus who voted to leave.’
One Cabinet minister revealed he had sought and received a direct pledge from Mrs May yesterday that she would never sanction a second referendum.
Another said: ‘The idea of a second referendum is the talk of fools. The PM is never going to sign up to another referendum, and it is disappointing that people close to her are considering the idea.’ Liam Fox said a second referendum would be undemocratic and divisive, adding: ‘This will not heal the division in the country – it perpetuates the division in the country.’
Speaking on the BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, the International Trade Secretary said: ‘Supposing the Remain side won it by 52 to 48, but it was on a lower turnout – entirely possible.
‘Let me tell you that if there is another referendum, which I don’t think there will be, people like me will be immediately demanding it’s best of three. Where does that end up?’ Mrs May savaged Mr Blair yesterday over his support for a ‘people’s vote’.
In a strongly-worded attack, the Prime Minister accused her predecessor of ‘undermining Britain’s national interest.
She said: ‘For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served.
‘We cannot, as he would, abdicate responsibility for this decision. Parliament has a democratic duty to deliver what the British people voted for. I remain determined to see that happen.’
Mr Blair hit back last night, accusing the PM of being ‘irresponsible’ by trying to push her deal through Parliament.
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He said it was ‘perfectly clear neither the British people nor their Parliament will unite behind the Prime Minister’s deal’ and that was why she was forced to pull the vote last week.
‘In these circumstances it is not irresponsible or insulting to put forward an alternative way to achieve resolution,’ he added.
Mr Barwell tweeted yesterday that he was ‘off to play football, followed by a few hours work (this will not include planning for a second referendum)’.
Later, he said he was ‘happy to confirm I do not want a second referendum’, adding: ‘It would further divide this country when we should be trying to bring people back together.’
Mr Lidington is thought to have met pro-Remain Labour MPs last Thursday to gauge the support for a second poll. One MP at the meeting said: ‘He was sounding us out rather than encouraging us. I didn’t detect his view – it was more of a fact-finding mission.’
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