Campaigners for second EU referendum refuse to back Commons push for second EU referendum

Posted On: 
14th March 2019

Campaigners for a second EU referendum have refused to back an attempt by MPs to show Commons support for one today.

Protesters at a rally calling for a People's Vote outside Parliament in January
Credit: 
PA Images

The cross-party People’s Vote campaign said it was “not the right time” for the plan to be put to a vote and urged MPs to instead push for Brexit day to be delayed beyond 29 March.

Separately, Best for Britain said the Commons bid - in an amendment to a government motion - "will not truly test the will of the House" when it is voted on later this evening.

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The amendment, which was tabled by Independent Group MP Sarah Wollaston, calls on Theresa May to extend Article 50 to allow time for a referendum on the Government deal or staying in the EU.

Ms Wollaston hopes to amend a government motion which asks MPs to back a short Brexit delay if the Commons approves the PM's deal or a longer one if not. 

A short delay would be to ensure the relevant legislation is passed before Brexit, while a longer delay would allow time to negotiate an entirely new deal with the EU.

A spokesperson for the People’s Vote campaign said it was clear that MPs who support a second referendum are split on whether to press for a Commons vote.  

“But we do not think today is the right time to test the will of the House on the case for a new public vote,” the spokesperson added.

“Instead, this is the time for Parliament to declare it wants an extension of Article 50 so that, after two-and-a-half years of vexed negotiations, our political leaders can finally decide on what Brexit means.

“That is because a People’s Vote is not just another option in this Brexit crisis – it is a solution to this crisis.

“When the real costs of Brexit are measured up against the broken promises made for it in 2016, we believe Parliament will have better opportunities to decide it is only fair and reasonable to give the public a real say on this crucial decision for our country.”

A spokesperson for Best for Britain added: “Best for Britain, like a majority of the country, believe that giving the people the final say is the only credible solution to the Brexit mess we’ve been left in after three years of government failure and parliamentary gridlock. 

"We believe bringing this issue before Parliament today will not truly test the will of the House for a public vote. The debate today must focus on the pressing need for an extension to Article 50 to confirm Parliament’s rejection of a no deal cliff-edge on March 29 and protect the country from a damaging disorderly exit.

"We will continue to build on the strong support throughout the country for Parliament to give the people the final say."