Theresa May warns MPs second Brexit referendum would 'break faith with British people'

Posted On: 
17th December 2018

A second Brexit referendum would “break faith with the British people", Theresa May will warn MPs today.

Theresa May's Brexit deal is unlikely to be voted on before the new year.

The Prime Minister will say that politicians should instead "be working to unite" the country as it prepares to leave the European Union.

Mrs May will make a statement to the Commons on last week's European Council - where her pleas for EU concessions were rebuffed - amid growing calls for a new referendum.

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Downing Street chief of staff Gavin Barwell yesterday failed to deny reports that he is among those war-gaming the idea as a way of breaking the ongoing Brexit deadlock.

At the weekend, Mrs May traded blows with Tony Blair over a second referendum, accusing the former prime minister of launching an "insult to the office he once held" by pushing for a fresh vote.

Hitting back, the ex-Labour leader said Mrs May was trying to "steamroller" MPs into accepting a bad Brexit deal.

But addressing the Commons, the Prime Minister will say: "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.

"Another vote which would likely leave us no further forward than the last.

"And another vote which would further divide our country at the very moment we should be working to unite it."

In a fresh sign of the turmoil engulfing the Tories over Brexit, former universities minister Sam Gyimah this morning launched a furious attack on the Prime Minister.

He tweeted: "Downing St has stopped selling the PMs flawed deal. Instead we have displacement activity designed to distract from last weeks failed renegotiation. And a concerted attempt to discredit every plausible alternative as they run down the clock. This is not in the national interest."

Labour MP Ian Murray of the Best for Britain campaign meanwhile said: "It would be a democratic outrage not to go to the people for a final say on Brexit.

"Nobody voted for the Prime Minister's bad deal that will make people and the country poorer. She can't just railroad it through against the wishes of the majority of the country.

"The only democratic solution to this crisis is a people's vote with the option of remaining in the EU."


Mrs May's Commons statement comes as she faces growing calls to allow MPs to take control of the Brexit process through a series of indicative votes.

Two Cabinet ministers this weekend openly suggested that staging votes on a series of Brexit options - including a second referendum and a no-deal exit from the EU - could help to plot a way forward.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC: "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."

Education Secretary Damian Hinds also refused to rule out such a move, arguing that going through alternatives would win MPs over to the PM’s deal.

According to the Times, six other Cabinet ministers are behind the plan to give MPs as say on all possible options.

They include Chancellor Philip Hammond, Work and Pensions secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Scotland Secretary David Mundell and Mrs May's de-facto deputy, David Lidington.

Pressed on the option last night, Solicitor General Robert Buckland hinted that he too could back a series of free votes.

He told the BBC's Westminster Hour: "I think if all the parties agreed to it then it’s something that might well work, but I think it would be imbalanced if one party did it and the other did not."

Meanwhile 26 Conservative MPs, led by former justice minister Jonathan Djanogly, are urging Mrs May to let MPs vote on her Brexit deal this week rather than making them wait until after the Christmas recess.

Downing Street - which pulled the vote due last week in the face of near-certain defeat - has previously ruled out such a move, with January 14 now pencilled in as the date for the Commons showdown.