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Government aide will defy whips to call for People’s Vote on Brexit

A cross-party rally for a referendum on any Brexit deal will be held in London.

Conservative MP Huw Merriman (David Young/PA)
Conservative MP Huw Merriman (David Young/PA)

A Government aide has said he is ready to defy the whips by calling for a People’s Vote.

Tory MP Huw Merriman said it was “likely” his appearance at a rally in London on Tuesday would cost him his job as an unpaid parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to Chancellor Philip Hammond.

The event in Westminster will see a cross-party group of politicians and campaigners calling for another referendum ahead of an EU summit on Wednesday to decide if the UK leaves with no deal.

The MP for Bexhill and Battle – who backs Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal – will explain why he “reluctantly” believes another referendum is the best way to solve the deadlock.

I have reluctantly come to accept that the solution to the deadlock in Parliament is to let the people back into this decision Huw Merriman

He is expected to say: “This is not only a political crisis but a national emergency.

“Whether you voted Leave or Remain in 2016, whether you want the Prime Minister’s deal, another deal or no Brexit at all, what is needed now is for MPs to come together in the national interest so we can deliver an outcome.

“I have fiercely opposed a second referendum. But I find myself here on this platform, at this critical time for our country, because, along with many more MPs on all sides of the House of Commons, I have reluctantly come to accept that the solution to the deadlock in Parliament is to let the people back into this decision.”

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Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People’s Vote March in London (PA/Yui Mok)

Mr Merriman is also expected to demand that a new vote is binding and leads to a “lasting settlement”.

He will say: “A wind of change of is blowing through this debate that can clear the way to a solution.

“A new vote is the way to deliver the clarity we need. A new vote – whichever way it goes – must be binding on our elected leaders.

“A new vote is the only way to ensure a lasting settlement for our politicians and for our country too.”

But the MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he knows the speech is likely to get him sacked.

If I then get sacked for actually explaining the way I voted in a free vote, that to me would be a new low in democracy Huw Merriman

“It has been made clear to me that is not Government policy,” he said.

“My issue with that is that, a week ago, we were given free votes and I was allowed to vote for this concept of putting the Prime Minister’s deal back to the people to get it through.

“If I then get sacked for actually explaining the way I voted in a free vote, that to me would be a new low in democracy.

“It would be nonsensical for me to be given a free vote, to be allowed to vote the way I wish to vote, but then to explain it I would lose my position.

“That’s politics of the madhouse and I am just not willing to go along with that.”

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Nick Boles during the indicative votes debate in the House of Commons (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

Mr Merriman was visibly upset last week when Conservative colleague Nick Boles quit the party over its refusal to back his Common Market 2.0 alternative Brexit deal.

He reached over to Mr Boles and said “Oh, Nick, don’t go, come on” as his friend crossed the aisle to join opposition MPs.

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