Theresa May Opens Door for Second Referendum?
At the beginning of a historic week on Brexit, Theresa May has told MPs she will not be bringing back her deal for a third vote as there is ‘still not sufficient support’ for it. She also opened the door for a second referendum on Brexit, after more than a million people took to the streets to demand a People’s Vote on Saturday. This weekend the PM faced reports of a ‘Cabinet coup’ to force her to resign, then suggestions she would have to name a date for quitting to get her Brexit deal passed.
The Prime Minister said the ‘default outcome’ of voting down her deal remained leaving without a deal. ‘The alternative is to pursue a different form of Brexit or a second referendum,’ she told MPs to cheers from the opposition benches.
She added: ‘The bottom line remains: if the House does not approve the Withdrawal Agreement this week and is not prepared to countenance leaving without a deal, we would have to seek a longer extension.’ That would mean holding European elections and would mean ‘we will not have been able to guarantee Brexit’, she said. Later, when answering a question from Vince Cable on the People’s Vote march and her views on a second referendum, the PM said: ‘I wasn’t not on the march because I was too busy, it’s because he and I have different opinions on a second referendum. ‘I do believe it’s important that this House, rather than talking about and wanting to pass the decision back to the British people, we will say to the British people that we will abide by the decision of the 2016 referendum.’ Things didn’t look good for May ahead of her statement in the House of Commons, with both Labour and the DUP indicating their position on her deal had not changed.
May met with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament, who told her he wouldn’t be backing her meaningful vote for a third time. A Labour Party spokesperson said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May met for over an hour in Parliament and had a frank and comprehensive exchange of views.
'Jeremy Corbyn made clear there was no basis for bringing back the meaningful vote on Theresa May’s deal for a third time ‘The Labour leader did not accept the prime minister’s suggestion that the Withdrawal Agreement could be separated from the Political Declaration.’ Mr Corbyn told her in the Commons May should ‘accept today that her deal is dead, and the house should not have its time wasted by voting on it a third time’. He added the Prime Minister had ‘succeeded in uniting the house against her deal’.
Corbyn also said his party will support the amendment tabled by Sir Oliver Letwin which would lead to a series of indicative votes on different Brexit options. Earlier, May was also told by the DUP, who she relies on for support, that its position on her Brexit deal ‘remains unchanged’. The PM had a telephone conversation with DUP leader Arlene Foster after an emergency Cabinet meeting on Monday morning. Foster told the prime minister she would not change her party’s stance, which is to vote against the deal. May’s deal has been overwhelmingly rejected in the Commons twice, and it remained unclear this morning whether she would bring it back for a third Meaningful Vote this week. She wrote to MPs saying she would only do so if there was ‘sufficient support’. On Sunday she summoned ministers and Brexiteer MPs to her Chequers residence for a last minute meeting ahead of a tense week in Westminster.