Brexit: Greening call for second referendum riles DUP - May rules out new vote
The DUP has criticised the growing demands to hold a second referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.
Former education secretary Justine Greening, who backed Remain, denounced Theresa May's plan unveiled at Chequers last week, saying it offered the “worst of both worlds” and called for a second referendum.
“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 said in an article for The Times.
DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson described the proposal as “hare-brained, divisive and duplicitousl”.
“Most alarmingly in this proposal is how a second referendum would totally undermine the United Kingdom’s negotiating position with the European Union," said Mr Wilson.
"The chance of a second vote would only harden the determination of the already belligerent Brussels bureaucrats to give the United Kingdom the worst deal possible. The EU would wield massive influence over the result in any second vote.
"This proposal also ignores two previous referendum results.
"Firstly, the alternative vote system has already been rejected at a referendum. Clearly by clinging to this voting system, Ms Greening, as a self-confessed remainer, feels it would be the best way of overturning the June 2016 result.
"Secondly, she continues to ignore the will of the United Kingdom electorate. Indeed, there is little doubt that if there was a second referendum and its result didn’t suit Ms Greening and her remainer cabal, they would want a third referendum."
A Downing Street spokesman said there was no possibility of a second referendum being held.
The calls for a second referendum come as the Prime Minister faces intense pressure from Tory Brexiteers to change her controversial blueprint for leaving the European Union.
Cabinet minister Greg Clark pleaded with Tory Eurosceptics who have tabled amendments to the Government’s customs bill aimed at imposing strict conditions on the Prime Minister after she produced a plan which would keep the UK closely tied to Brussels’ rules on goods and food.
The amendments could be used as a show of strength by the Brexiteers, who are furious at the Chequers plan, but there were signs at Westminster that Mrs May could be prepared to compromise in an effort to avert a damaging blow to her authority.
A senior Government source said “no decision yet” had been made on whether to accept the amendments supported by arch-Eurosceptics including Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sir Bernard Jenkin, Priti Patel and Iain Duncan Smith.
A Brexiteer source said that while ministers “haven’t yet” accepted the amendments “all the noise is in that direction”.
Business Secretary Mr Clark was challenged about the potential revolt on the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, often referred to as the customs bill.
On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he urged Tory colleagues who “want to get on with Brexit” to acknowledge that the Bill was “essential” and should not be impeded.
Asked if there was a suggestion that ministers would accept the amendments he said: “No. The Bill is an important part of preparing for the world after Brexit and I would have thought that all colleagues would respect the fact that we need to get those preparations in place whilst having this important negotiation to make sure that our trading arrangement can continue to support prosperity in the future.”
Sir Bernard told the programme that the Chequers plan was “dead”, with opposition from both wings of the Tory party.
“I’m afraid it is neither beloved by Remainers or Leavers.
“It’s also quite likely to be either rejected by the EU or more demands will be made upon it so it will be even less acceptable.”
Mr Rees-Mogg, the leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG), played down suggestions over the weekend they were seeking to topple Mrs May, saying she still had time to change course on her proposals.