Theresa May: Brexit Referendum Would Do ‘Irreparable Damage’ To British Politics
Holding another referendum on the EU would “break faith with the British people”, Theresa May will warn MPs.
Theresa May will move to dampen calls for a new Brexit referendum by warning a fresh vote would do “irreparable damage” to the integrity of British politics.
After reports at the weekend that Downing Street was preparing for another poll to break the deadlock over her deal with Brussels, the Prime Minister will tell MPs on today that the move would send a message to millions of voters that “democracy does not deliver”.
Last week she called off a Commons vote on her Brexit deal, admitting it was likely to be heavily rejected.
Mr Blair said last week that while he admired Mrs May’s determination to get her deal through, with so many MPs opposed to it there was “literally no point in carrying on digging”.
He said after 30 months of negotiation, and with the government in “a mess”, giving the final say to the people would become the “logical” outcome if every other option were to be exhausted.
But Mrs May will tell MPs on Monday: “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.”
May is set to address MPs after a bruising EU summit in Brussels last week during which European leaders largely rebuffed the PM’s calls for reassurances on her Withdrawal Agreement.
The statement to Parliament will follow days of speculation that some Cabinet Ministers and key aides to the PM are manoeuvring for a fresh Brexit poll.
May’s de facto deputy, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, and the PM’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, both dismissed reports they are planning for a new referendum.
The Prime Minister also became embroiled in a highly personalised war of words with one of her predecessors, Tony Blair, over his calls for a fresh Brexit vote.
May accused the ex-Labour PM of insulting the British
Labour former foreign secretary, and prominent People’s Vote campaign supporter, Dame Margaret Beckett, said the case for a new Brexit poll was “becoming overwhelming”.
Dame Margaret said: “It is highly significant that Downing Street felt it had to issue these advance extracts of her statement to the House of Commons on Sunday night because officials know the prospect of a People’s Vote is being discussed not just in Westminster but in the corridors of Whitehall too.
“The case for the public being given the final say is becoming so overwhelming that people from all parties and of none now recognise that this is the best way forward for our country. A new public vote would be different from the referendum in 2016 because we now know more about what Brexit means.”
Mrs May said on Friday that her talks with EU leaders had shown that “further clarification and discussion” was possible and that the UK would be “working expeditiously over the coming days to seek those further assurances I believe MPs will need”.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said her deal was now “dead in the water” and the prime minister had “utterly failed in her attempts to deliver any meaningful changes”.
Labour says it will put pressure on her to hold the vote on it this week. The government says the vote will now be held before 21 January.