DON’T DARE STEAL OUR BREXIT ‘Let us not break faith with Bri­tish peo­ple’ warns May as she fights to stop new EU vote

Daily Express - - Front Page - By Sam Lis­ter Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

THERESA May is to warn a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum would plunge the coun­try into fresh di­vi­sion after se­nior Tories ac­cused her al­lies of plot­ting to be­tray vot­ers.

The Prime Min­is­ter will try to re­as­sure fu­ri­ous MPs that she will not sanc­tion

another vote when she ap­pears be­fore them in the Com­mons – with an ally say­ing she was clear there would no fresh poll “on my watch”.

It came as the Prime Min­is­ter’s chief of staff Gavin Bar­well and her deputy, Cab­i­net Of­fice min­is­ter David Lid­ing­ton, faced an an­gry back­lash over re­ports they were pre­par­ing for a new ref­er­en­dum.

Ex-min­is­ters and prom­i­nent Brex­i­teers said re-run­ning the 2016 vote was “com­pletely bonkers” and “dan­ger­ous”.

For­mer Brexit min­is­ter David Jones warned stag­ing a fresh vote would be “fa­tal to our democ­racy”.

He added: “It would be say­ing that a small Europhile elite knows bet­ter than the Bri­tish elec­torate, whose sound com­mon sense is renowned.

“The po­lit­i­cal back­lash would be swift. No politi­cian would be im­mune. Trust in the po­lit­i­cal class, al­ready at a low ebb, would be de­stroyed.”

Brex­i­teer ex-Cab­i­net min­is­ter Priti Pa­tel said: “A sec­ond ref­er­en­dum would be a be­trayal of the 17.4 mil­lion peo­ple who voted leave.

“Those be­hind this have been against Brexit from day one, this is sim­ply an at­tempt to over­turn the will of the peo­ple.

“The Cab­i­net need to stop look­ing for ex­cuses and de­liver on the ref­er­en­dum man­date.”

Tracey Crouch, who re­cently quit as sports min­is­ter, said a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum would make MPs look “ridicu­lous”. She said: “We are elected to pro­vide the so­lu­tion to dif­fi­cult is­sues. We can’t just throw our arms up and shout, ‘It’s too hard, let’s ask ev­ery­one again’.

“It will dam­age trust in democ­racy and in Par­lia­ment.”

For­mer ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Robert Hal­fon said it would be a “com­plete be­trayal” of the Prime Min­is­ter’s prom­ise to re­spect the re­sult of the Brexit vote and In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox said: “This will not heal the di­vi­sion in the coun­try. It per­pet­u­ates di­vi­sion in the coun­try.”

Brex­i­teer Lord Lil­ley said: “I think keep­ing to one’s word is very im­por­tant and be­tray­ing your word is very dan­ger­ous. If peo­ple are go­ing to re­nege on the prom­ise they made to the Bri­tish peo­ple they are play­ing with fire.”

He added: “Ever since Brexit hap­pened, the elite of Euro­crats and Europhiles have been try­ing to re­verse it and they will stop at noth­ing to do so.”

Leave-back­ing Tory MP Peter Bone said another ref­er­en­dum would be “com­pletely bonkers” and “a com­plete be­trayal of what we promised in 2016”.

He added: “It’s an es­tab­lish­ment elite who are push­ing for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum. I think the Bri­tish peo­ple have far more sense than Tony Blair and the oth­ers who want to steal Brexit.”

Book­mak­ers said another ref­er­en­dum was now a prob­a­bil­ity rather than a pos­si­bil­ity be­cause the odds of Mrs May get­ting her deal through Par­lia­ment had drifted again over the week­end and now stood at 5/2. Wil­liam Hill said that for the first time it was now odds on – 8/11 – that another vote would be held.

Mrs May will make a Com­mons state­ment this af­ter­noon to up­date MPs on her fraught ne­go­ti­a­tions in Brus­sels last week.

She will say: “Let us not break faith with the Bri­tish peo­ple by try­ing to stage another ref­er­en­dum.

“Another vote which would do ir­repara­ble dam­age to the in­tegrity of our pol­i­tics be­cause it would say to mil­lions who trusted in democ­racy that our democ­racy does not de­liver.

“Another vote which would likely leave us no fur­ther for­ward than the last. And another vote which would fur­ther di­vide our coun­try at the very mo­ment we should be work­ing to unite it.”

Mr Bar­well de­nied plan­ning another vote but did not rule out claims in a Sun­day news­pa­per that he told a Cab­i­net min­is­ter it was the “only way for­ward”.

He said: “Happy to con­firm I am not plan­ning a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum with po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents or any­one else.”

Mr Lid­ing­ton dodged ac­cu­sa­tions that he held talks with Labour MPs on Thurs­day over a new vote.

In­stead he re­ferred to com­ments he made in the Com­mons when he set out how a sec­ond vote was a pos­si­bil­ity, but could be “di­vi­sive not de­ci­sive”. For­mer univer­si­ties min­is­ter Sam Gy­imah said “there are con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen­ing” and they in­volve a “num­ber of op­tions”.

He said “peo­ple recog­nise that that deal is not go­ing to fly through the House of Com­mons” so dis­cus­sions were un­der way to en­sure that when Mrs May’s deal is de­feated, “Down­ing Street is in a po­si­tion to know what to do next”.

The row erupted as Dr Fox in­di­cated he would back a free vote on

Brexit op­tions. He said: “I have to say, per­son­ally, I wouldn’t have a huge prob­lem with Par­lia­ment as a whole hav­ing a say on what the op­tions were.”

The Leave cam­paigner sig­nalled he thought there could be EU move­ment in the new year to re­solve con­cerns Bri­tain could be “trapped” in the North­ern Ire­land back­stop, de­signed to pre­vent a hard bor­der.

“It’s very clear that the EU un­der­stand what the prob­lem is,” he told The An­drew Marr Show.

“And it’s a ques­tion now, with­out un­pick­ing the whole of the With­drawal Agree­ment, can we find a mech­a­nism of op­er­at­ing the back­stop in a way that ac­tu­ally re­moves those anx­i­eties?

“It is not go­ing to be quick. It will hap­pen some time in the new year.”

Labour is try­ing to force a Com­mons show­down be­fore Christ­mas. Shadow com­mu­ni­ties min­is­ter An­drew Gwynne said it wanted an exit deal vote in the com­ing days.

A Com­mons con­fi­dence vote could fol­low if Mrs May’s deal was re­jected, he added.

Theresa May and her hus­band Philip on their way to a church ser­vice in her Maiden­head con­stituency yes­ter­day

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