REPORT: Theresa May’s Closest Allies Plot Second Referendum

Barwell May Lidington
Getty Images

Two of Prime Minister Theresa May’s most senior allies are plotting a second referendum, according to reports by the Daily Mail.

The newspaper’s Sunday edition has reported that Gavin Barwell, Mrs May’s chief of staff, has drawn up secret plans for a second vote while David Lidington, the Minister for Cabinet Office, is believed to have held meetings with opposition Labour MPs — causing a rift in the Cabinet with Brexit-supporting MPs.

Sources told the Daily Mail that Barwell, above left, has told a pro-Remain “gang of five” Cabinet ministers that a second referendum “the only way out of this.”

Mr Barwell is said to have approached pensions secretary Amber Rudd, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, business secretary Greg Clarke, justice secretary David Gauke, and Mr Lidington, whose role as Minister for Cabinet office is considered the defacto deputy prime minister, after Mrs May cancelled the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement last Monday in face of certain defeat and after fruitless renegotiations with Brussels bureaucrats during the latter end of last week.

The suggestion was said to have split the Cabinet, with pro-Brexit MPs like International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom saying that it would be a betrayal of the people who voted in the majority to leave the EU in June 2016.

Meanwhile, Mr Lidington, above right, is reported to be attempting to form a cross-party “coalition of the willing” to force a second referendum. He is said to have made “back channel” connections with senior Labour MPs and staunch Remainers in the party like former Europe Minister Chris Bryant and Chuka Ummuna, and other Tory Europhiles such as Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan.

“Barwell and Lidington are working in tandem,” a senior Conservative who has discussed the manoeuvre with Cabinet ministers told the Sunday Times. “Others in No 10 are aware of what is happening.”

Another told the newspaper of record, “They [Cabinet ministers] would have to be out of their tiny minds to go along with this,” with Jeremy Hunt, who backs no deal over a second referendum, warning “many people would regard it as undemocratic.”

While Brexiteer and former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith told The Times that “all hell would break loose” if the Tory government brought about a second referendum and said the UK must prepare in earnest for a clean break from the EU.

“Lidington is one of the guilty men in this process. What he and others have been doing is giving the EU what they want, which is no way out for the UK. They should stop messing around with games about referendums.

“We should have prepared the UK for no deal. Until we can make it clear that we are ready to go to World Trade Organization terms, she can’t negotiate anything. Just do it,” he added.

The conspiracy against May within the senior ranks of her own party comes after the prime minister attacked former Labour prime minister and fervid Europhile Tony Blair for meddling in Brexit after he told Sky News she should “switch course” and hold a second referendum.

Noting the strikingly angry tone, the BBC reports Mrs May said on Saturday, “For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served.

“We cannot, as he would, abdicate responsibility for this decision.

“Parliament has a democratic duty to deliver what the British people voted for.”

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.