The left-wing Labour Party and Tory Chancellor Philip ‘Remainer Phil’ Hammond are backing different forms of a second referendum on Brexit, in efforts to frustrate Britain’s exit from the EU.
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has said that he backs keeping a second referendum on EU membership as an option, and insisted any deal backed by parliamentarians should also be voted on in a confirmatory referendum.
“What the party has said is there must be a public vote and we said we’d either put down an amendment ourselves or support an amendment, and that needs to be between a credible Leave option and Remain,” he said.
If a deal does goes through the House of Commons, Sir Keir added, “it ought to be subject to a lock or a check which is it’s got to be confirmed by the public.”
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 24, 2019
His comments followed a demonstration organised by the EU loyalist People’s Vote group, which marched through London on Saturday demanding the will of the people in 2016 be disregarded and the country forced into another Brexit referendum.
Deputy Labour Party leader Tom Watson claimed he would back Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the EU provided that there was a referendum on it.
That suggestion is backed by Remain-voting Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn, who also said that to stop a clean, no-deal Brexit, Britain’s activation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty — the legal mechanism for leaving the EU — should be revoked.
Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Benn said, “The first priority is to ensure there is not a No Deal Brexit.”
“The revocation of Article 50, I think the only circumstance is if we got to three weeks’ time and the EU said, we’re not prepared to give you an extension,” he added.
Hilary Benn has done everything he can to frustrate Brexit and now he's calling for a second referendum. Promise broken. pic.twitter.com/mFkD272CKo
— Change Britain (@Change_Britain) March 25, 2019
“I’m absolutely clear our number one priority is to avoid a No Deal Brexit. If they refuse to give us an extension, then Parliament would be faced with a choice about whether to use that particular method,” he added.
Brexiteers, including from Labour, have criticised the party establishment for betraying their 2017 election manifesto pledge to respect the Brexit vote and secede from the EU, with Leave campaign group Change Britain using social media to share footage of Mr Benn stating before the 2016 referendum that if “you vote to leave, that’s it. We’re out.”
While the left is seeking to keep the United Kingdom in the progressive-globalist European Project, a senior figure from the establishment wing of the Tory government has also given the prospect of a second referendum credence.
The way to break the stalemate is for Parliament and the people to come together, to decide on our future together. It’s time to say with one voice: put it to the people. Prime Minister, you have lost control. Let the people take control. #PutItToThePeople pic.twitter.com/NLln7bgt48
— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) March 23, 2019
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told Sky’s Sophy Ridge that while he believed the only way forward was to back Mrs May’s deal and doubted “there’s a majority in parliament for a second referendum,” backing one was still a “perfectly coherent proposition.”
“Many people will be strongly opposed to it, but it’s a coherent proposition and it deserves to be considered along with the other proposals,” he added.
The House of Commons is set to take part in a series of “indicative votes” on Wednesday on alternative options should Mrs May’s deal be rejected for a third time, which includes a second referendum, cancelling Brexit, an even softer Brexit, and a clean, no deal Brexit.
MPs are also set to vote on a series of amendments which could include a Labour-backed pathway leading to a soft Brexit — i.e. being tied to the EU Customs Union and Single Market — or a second referendum.
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