Brexiteer Boris Johnson has said talk of a second referendum “undermines our negotiating credibility further” with the EU, and that the UK should prepare for a clean break from the bloc.
Writing that no-one who voted Leave in June 2016 voted to be in a “half-way house” where the United Kingdom would “abandon control of our own laws and trade policy to Brussels,” the former foreign secretary weighed in on reports that Prime Minister Theresa May’s closest allies were plotting a second referendum.
“If that is true, and if people in Downing Street have really been discussing a second referendum – whether seriously or just in the hope of scaring MPs to vote for this lamentable deal – then all I can say is that they must be out of their minds,” Mr Johnson wrote in The Telegraph.
Downing Street has tried to dispel the rumours, with Prime Minister May set to tell MPs in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon that there will be no second referendum. A Number 10 spokesman added that there are also be no plans to hold a non-binding “indicative vote” on the options — No Deal, a Norway-style deal, May’s deal, a second referendum etc — in Parliament.
May: Second Brexit Referendum Would ‘Break Faith’ with British People https://t.co/Iz4wzYVzDt
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 17, 2018
Calling on the Prime Minister to reject the Irish backstop arrangements, which could lock Northern Ireland in regulatory alignment with the EU and threaten the integrity of the British Union, Johnson said: “[Brussels] will give in, believe me; but only if we are ready to walk away.
“That means we must be not only willing to exit on World Trade [Organization] terms” — no deal — “but that we have made the necessary preparations,” he explained.
“We don’t want to leave without a deal. We can still get a very good deal. But we will only succeed if we hear now, from the very top, that we are genuinely ready for the alternative.”
“It is highly encouraging that at least some Cabinet ministers are coming round to the idea of a ‘managed no deal’ as the best way forward,” he added.
Petition for ‘No Deal’ Brexit Overtakes Petition for Second Referendum https://t.co/hmRnfAYh5G
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 16, 2018
While the former Vote Leave leader holds out hope the bloc can be reasoned with on the Irish backstop — which eurocrats have said they will not budge on — current foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the United Kingdom could “flourish” if it makes a clean break from the bloc.
“I’ve always thought that even in a No Deal situation this is a great country, we’ll find a way to flourish and prosper. We’ve faced much bigger challenges in our history,” the former Remainer told The Telegraph on Sunday, adding that a “responsible government” would “have to make all the preparations necessary.”
The Guardian reports that Number 10 have said it will escalate plans for a No Deal, with the spokesman confirming that Mrs May is prepared to take the UK out of the EU without a deal, reiterating, “Yes. We are leaving the EU on March 29.”