Civil servants ‘war-gaming a second Brexit referendum’ amid impasse fears

Posted On: 
21st October 2018

Civil servants have reportedly begun contingency planning for a second Brexit referendum amid fears Theresa May is unable to get parliament to back a deal.

People's vote The latest People's Vote march, which took place in London
Credit: 
PA Images

The Sunday Times says staff at the Department for Exiting the European Union role-played the likely actions of the Prime Minister and her de facto deputy David Lidington.

Pro-Brexit MPs Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg also featured in the “war-game” according to the paper, alongside pro-EU People’s Vote director James McGrory.

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Staff are also said to have looked at whether Britain’s MEPs could remain in post for another year, following the conclusion that a vote could not take place for at least 12 months to avoid clashing with next spring’s EU elections.

A source told the paper: “Civil servants have to prepare for every eventuality and with the prime minister’s ability to command the support of parliament looking shakier by the day, it is their job to make contingency plans for every possibility, however remote, including a second referendum."

The preparations come after the latest march for a so-called People's Vote, which those involved say brought 670,000 people on to the streets of London.

The campaign is reportedly upping its lobbying of MPs after months of street rallies however, with the paper saying the group believe up to 50 Conservative MPs, including five members of the government frontbench, are “reachable”.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has been clear. There will be no second referendum. We had a people’s vote in 2016.

“A second referendum would really be a politicians’ vote — politicians telling the people they got it wrong the first time and should try again. That would do lasting damage to faith in democracy.”