Anna Soubry: I only backed EU referendum vote because Remain was supposed to win

Posted On: 
19th November 2016

A former Tory minister has admitted she only voted for the EU referendum because she was convinced that voters would never back Brexit.

Anna Soubry on Downing Street
PA Images

Anna Soubry told the Guardian she would not have supported the plebiscite if she thought it would lead to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

She said: “[I backed it] only because I thought we would win. Obviously I wouldn’t have been if I thought we would lose, let’s be honest.”

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“People should be cross” that parliament may have to approve the triggering of Article 50, Ms Soubry said.

“We voted for the Referendum Act without understanding the consequences of a leave vote. We told people it was binding, but now we don’t know, and it’s quite concerning that none of these things were explored before parliament decided,” she said.

“It’s all of our faults. All of us. Every single one of us. And I feel very guilty about that.”

Ms Soubry said she would vote for the triggering of Article 50 despite calls for her to “thwart it”. “I told people that if we voted leave, we would. And I can’t go back on that. It’s taken me time to get to this place. It’s against everything I believe in [but]…I’ve made up my mind.”

She accused Brexit-backers Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, and Nigel Farage of leading voters “into a very dense, very dark, unpleasant forest of darkness” by backing Brexit.

“The democratic deficit will grow, not diminish, by what happened on 23 June. [Voters] will be even more disillusioned, and they will feel even more betrayed,” she said.

She also targeted Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, labelling him an “IRA apologist”.

“The only person I think I actually do dislike is John McDonnell, I actually do think he’s a nasty piece of work, because he’s an IRA apologist. I’m entitled to call him a nasty piece of work because of what he said about the IRA.”