Tuesday 21 May 2019

May floats idea of vote on new referendum to try to break Labour deadlock

Floundering: Theresa May is struggling to get a consensus on her Brexit deal. Picture: Reuters
Floundering: Theresa May is struggling to get a consensus on her Brexit deal. Picture: Reuters

Steven Swinford

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is considering giving MPs a vote on whether to hold a second referendum in an effort to break the deadlock in negotiations with Labour.

Mrs May held discussions with her Cabinet yesterday about the prospect of holding a Commons vote on whether to enshrine a commitment to a second referendum in law.

She was said to have been "pragmatic" during the discussions and told ministers that securing a deal was not going to be "easy" and would require compromise.

Chief whip Julian Smith is understood to be "confident" the government has the numbers to defeat a bid by Labour to hold a second referendum in the Commons.

The plans would amend the EU withdrawal and implementation bill to include a commitment to a "confirmatory vote".

However, the issue is also divisive for Labour.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry have all pushed for a second referendum.

However, Jeremy Corbyn has said a new public vote should be held only to avoid a no deal or a "disastrous Tory Brexit".

The Labour leader last night accused Mrs May of failing to compromise over her Brexit red lines as attempts to strike a deal stalled.

Mr Corbyn said Mrs May had failed to make any "real movement" on demands for a post-Brexit customs union and alignment on workers' rights, environmental protections and consumer standards.

Mr Starmer last night said the prime minister was "still telling us everything we had ever wanted" was already in her deal.

He said negotiations were focused on a second referendum and a "future lock" to prevent Mrs May's successor from ripping up any deal that is reached.

The prime minister faced a Cabinet backlash of her own yesterday as she held a series of meetings with ministers to update them on her strategy.

Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the Commons, is said to have been "furious" with Mrs May about the ongoing negotiations with Labour.

Brexit talks will resume this morning for a fifth day in a bid to secure a broad agreement before the crunch Brexit summit in Brussels tomorrow. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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