Brexit: Senior Conservative calls for second referendum | News | DW | 16.07.2018
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Brexit: Senior Conservative calls for second referendum

The highest-profile ruling-party figure to call for a second Brexit referendum has put more cats among Theresa May's pigeons. Support for a new poll is gaining traction, as May's compromise looks increasingly stillborn.

Remain-supporting Justine Greening wrote in The Times newspaper on Monday that a second Brexit referendum was "the only way" to resolve the ongoing parliamentary stalemate over how the UK plans to extricate itself from the 28-member bloc.

The former education minister said May's recent proposals would satisfy neither those wanting a decisive break between London and Brussels in a "hard" Brexit nor those wanting to maintain close trading links between the UK and EU.

Speaking later on BBC Radio 4's Today program, Greening said she expected other senior Tories to support the idea and outlined a system using first- and second-preference votes to ensure that the preferred model achieved more than 50 percent of the final vote.

Read more: Opinion: Chaos reigns supreme in London

Greening added that May's proposal was now dead. It was a "genuine, clever attempt at a compromise," but had proved to be unworkable, she said.

"We'll be dragging Remain voters out of the EU for a deal that means still complying with many EU rules, but now with no say on shaping them," Greening, who left the government in January, wrote.

"It's not what they want, and on top of that when they hear that Leave voters are unhappy, they ask, 'What's the point?' For Leavers, this deal simply does not deliver the proper break from the European Union that they wanted."

"The only solution is to take the final Brexit decision out of the hands of deadlocked politicians, away from the backroom deals, and give it back to the people," she wrote.

May in a bind

May's Brexit strategy, outlined at a meeting with the Cabinet 10 days ago, aims for a close relationship with the EU after the UK leaves in March 2019. Her move led to the resignation of two senior ministers and has come under attack from both supporters of Remain and Leavers, both in her own party and in the opposition.

A ninth government member quit on Monday over opposition to May's proposals for leaving the EU. Scott Mann, a Conservative MP, joined the euroskeptic rebels by resigning as a parliamentary secretary to the treasury. "I am not prepared to compromise their wishes to deliver a watered down Brexit," he wrote.

There will be no rerun of the 2016 vote, in which Britons voted 52-48 percent to leave the bloc, a spokesman for May said on Monday.

"The British public have voted to leave the European Union. There is not going to be a second referendum ... under any circumstances," the spokesman told reporters.

The prime minister could face a rebellion from Brexit supporters in her own party, many of whose lawmakers want her to ditch her plan. They vote on amendments to legislation on the government's post-Brexit customs regime on Monday.

Gaining traction?

Calls for a new poll have been gaining in strength in recent months

Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote on Sunday in a post on the website of his Institute for Global Change that there should be another national vote.

Blair suggested there should be three choices for voters. "The question may be complicated because it really involves three choices: Clean Break, 'soft' or stay. But the complexity is not insuperable," he said.

jbh/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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