Sat, 2 March 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Women in Westminster: In Conversation With Tulip Siddiq MP Partner content
Press releases

Liam Fox suggests MPs should vote on no-deal Brexit and fresh referendum proposals

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

MPs should get to vote on whether they want to crash out of the EU with no Brexit deal or hold a fresh EU referendum, a Cabinet minister has suggested.

Liam Fox said the Commons should get the chance to gauge the level of support for different Brexit “options” when it finally votes on the deal Theresa May brought back from Brussels.

Parliament is deadlocked over Brexit, after the Prime Minister pulled a crunch vote on her agreement last week in the face of certain defeat.  

Reports emerged this morning that de-facto deputy Prime Minister David Lidington is urging fellow Cabinet members to back a series of “indicative votes” in the Commons.

The options would include the PM’s deal, quitting the EU without a deal, leaving on the same terms as Norway or holding a fresh Brexit referendum - which Mr Lidington is said to believe would win the day.

International Trade Secretary Dr Fox appeared to back the suggestion when he was interviewed on the BBC's Andrew Marr show this morning.

He said: “Personally I wouldn't have a huge problem with Parliament as a whole having a say on what the options were.

“Because it wasn’t the Government that was given an instruction by the referendum, it was Parliament.

“Parliament said in that referendum: ‘we can’t make a decision; in this particular area we are going to subcontract our sovereignty to the people’.

“And they gave us an instruction. It’s time Parliament carried it out.”

Elsewhere, Education Secretary Damian Hinds also refused to rule out an “indicative votes” process to break the deadlock - arguing going through the options would win MPs over to the PM’s deal.

He told Sky News this morning: “People need to get beyond everybody’s idea of ‘what’s my first choice’ because there isn’t a majority for any of those first choices.”

He added that MPs needed to take a “balanced kind of approach” by eliminating the options based on whether they are workable or have support in the Commons.

And appearing later on the BBC he said: “I think there is a value in, sort of, flushing out, what these various different options are that as I say some people support very strongly but don’t have a majority in favour of them.”

According to the Sunday Times, Mr Lidington and Mr Hinds are among six Cabinet ministers pushing the “indicative votes” plan amid a split at the top of Government over whether there should be a second referendum.

Mr Lidington and No 10 chief of staff Gavin Barwell are said to have been war-gaming the process for triggering a fresh vote by the public.

Tom Brake, a Lib Dem MP and campaigner for the pro-EU Best for Britain group, said of Dr Fox's intervention: "When even Dr Fox does not rule out free votes and encourages the idea of indicative votes in Parliament, the Brexit project is clearly in jeopardy. 

"All this just shows how the government are in total, complete and utter chaos. To call them rudderless is the understatement of the century.

"I believe he now needs to push his logic to its conclusion and come out in favour of a people's vote as the only way out an almighty mess he helped create."

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe


Political parties