David Lidington warns MPs of 'danger' in voting down final Brexit deal

Posted On: 
4th March 2018

David Lidington has said it would be "dangerous" for the Commons to not back the final deal on Brexit, days after John Major called for MPs to use their "own conscience".

David Lidington said Theresa May should expect Government and party colleagues to vote with her
Credit: 
PA Images

The former prime minister said the issue of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU had become the most "divisive" political issue of his lifetime and said the option for a second referendum on the outcome of negotiations should remain open.

Theresa May’s de-facto deputy PM slapped down Mr Major’s suggestion however, insisting the Prime Minister would expect the Government and Tory MPs to back the deal.

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“She’s entitled to expect the government and her party to support her in that when it is laid before the Commons,” he told ITV's Peston on Sunday.

“I would hope that the deal that she brings back will also attract a lot of cross party support as well."

The Cabinet Office Secretary said that despite having been an “ardent Remainer”, MPs risked rocking an already “fragile” public confidence in politics were they to renege on the commitment to give the public the final say.

“I make no apologies that I was an ardent Remainer in the referendum campaign and I don’t resile from the stance I took,” he said.

“But I said at the time, before and after that referendum that this was a matter for the British people to decide and I think that it would be dangerous in terms of what’s a pretty fragile public confidence in our democratic institutions, for politicians to say now ‘well actually I know we told you, oh electorate, that this was your decision but we changed our mind because we didn’t like the answer…”

Mr Lidington added that European politicians, while “bitterly upset” about the result, had all accepted the “decisive and legitimate” nature of June 2016’s vote.

“What’s more is when I talk to people from the other 27 EU governments, they were bitterly upset at the way the referendum went, they regard it as a tragedy, but none of them has said to me that they thought that it was illegitimate in democratic terms,” he said.