Theresa May: Extending Article 50 for Second Referendum Would Invalidate My Negotiated Deal

Theresa May
RUSSELL CHEYNE/AFP/Getty

The prime minister has said extending the Article 50 divorce period to accommodate a second referendum would invalidate the deal she has negotiated, making voting options uncertain.

Theresa May made the claim during a grilling from stanchly anti-Brexit Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston before the Commons’ liaison committee. She also strongly rejected the idea of re-running the referendum.

Mrs May said such a vote would tarnish “the integrity of politicians and people’s trust in politicians,” deter people from voting in future, and bring practical complications.

“Any second referendum, should that be the case, would not be able to held before March 2019… We’d need to extend Article 50,” she said.

“There’s a paradox here,” Mrs May explained. “To extend Article 50, actually, you’re then in the business of renegotiating the deal. This is the point. The deal is the deal at this point in time.”

Pressed on whether this was the case, the prime minister reiterated her claims: “What is clear is that any extension to Article 50, anything like that, reopens the negotiations, reopens the deal.

“And at that point the deal can go, frankly, in any direction.”

During the 90-minute grilling, Mrs May also insisted remaining in the EU was “not an option.”

She said: “I think the most important reason why we should not be going down the route of a second referendum is that we asked the British people, they’ve given us their view, and we should deliver on that view.”

The prime minister spoke of “practical steps” that would have to be taken if MPs were to vote down her Brexit deal.

“Obviously we have been doing ‘no-deal’ planning as a Government – we have made certain information available to businesses.”

She continued: “If the House were to vote down the deal that has been agreed – given that the European Union has been clear that this is the deal that has been agreed and this is the deal that is on the table – then obviously decisions would need to be taken in relation the action that would need to be taken.”

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