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Sun, 29 March 2020

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Top Remain rebel Dominic Grieve hints at backing for second Brexit referendum

Top Remain rebel Dominic Grieve hints at backing for second Brexit referendum

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

A Tory former minister and key figure among pro-EU rebels today hinted that a fresh Brexit referendum could be the answer if Theresa May fails to secure support for her future trading plan.


Dominic Grieve said Britain might want to “accept that Brexit cannot be implemented and think again about what we are doing” if the deadlock in the party cannot be broken.

Tory MPs have descended into open warfare over whether or not they can accept the Brexit blueprint put forward by the Prime Minister at Chequers and laid out in detail in the latest white paper.

This morning, pro-EU former Cabinet minister Justine Greening said the plan would leave the UK in the “worst of both worlds” as it would leave Britain subject to EU rules with no say over their creation.

In an article for the Times, the former Education Secretary concluded that the "only solution is to take the final Brexit decision out of the hands of deadlocked politicians” by holding another vote.

This afternoon, former Attorney General Mr Grieve appeared to lend his voice to the growing calls as he suggested the plan championed by the Prime Minister was worth backing despite its flaws.

In an article for the Evening Standard he argued the proposals were “far from ideal” but noted that “the current government policy is a lot better than the alternative being promoted”.

And the Beaconsfield MP added: "In a deeply divided country we must either work together to get the best deal we can - and this needs compromise - or accept that Brexit cannot be implemented and think again about what we are doing.”

His comments came as the Government scrambled to kill off a set of damaging defeats on the Customs and Trade Bills as they reach their final stages in the Commons.

Pro-Brexit supporters have tabled a string of amendments in a bid to kill off the plan by Mrs May - although the Government could back down on a number of the demands.

Mr Grieve said the pro-Brexit rebels appeared “willing to plunge the country into a serious crisis to achieve the purity of their objective”.

“I can only assume that the suggestion of voting against the two Bills this week is designed as a statement of intent of their willingness to carry this out,” he added.

Speaking later on Radio 4, Mr Grieve said pro-Brexit Tories were on course to "fatally undermine" Mrs May if they refused to back down on their parliamentary bids.

Meanwhile, Cornwall MP Scott Mann became the latest Tory to quit as a ministerial bag carrier over the Brexit white paper - arguing it was not what his constituents voted for when they plumped for Brexit.

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