European Elections A 'Second Referendum' For Some Voters, Says Education Secretary

Damian Hinds says Conservative Party does not need a manifesto or campaign launch.

The European elections will be treated as a “second referendum” on Brexit, a cabinet minister has admitted.

Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said he expected the May 23 poll would see the “ultimate protest vote”.

The Conservative Party has dropped to a distant fourth place on just 11% in the latest poll on the elections.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has secured a solid lead on 34% ahead of Labour on 21% and the Lib Dems in third with 12%.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, Farage said the elections would show the public wanted a no-deal exit from the EU if they backed his party.

Tony Blair told Sky News it was “important the anti-Brexit side is larger and stronger than the Farage side” in the elections as MPs would act based on the results.

Hinds told Marr the election of 73 new British MEPs would be “something of a free vote”.

“Actually, ironically, this is in a sense, for some people it is a second referendum,” he said. “For some people this is the ultimate protest vote opportunity.”

Hinds said: “We don’t actually want MEPs to take up their seats – we want people to vote Conservative but we don’t want them to have to take their seats.”

Some Tory MPs have even said they might not vote Conservative and could back The Brexit Party.

Theresa May has yet to formally launch a European election campaign - unlike Jeremy Corbyn and the other parties.

But Hinds said he was “not sure” the Tories needed a launch event or a manifesto.

“I can give you the manifesto now if you like,” he said. ”It doesn’t take a very large piece of paper to say what our approach is.

“We want to make sure we leave the European Union, we do it as soon as possible and we do it with a good, negotiated exit deal which is good for people’s jobs and livelihoods.”

Prisons minister Robert Buckland said today he expected a general election “would probably have to happen” if the choice came down to not leaving the EU or a no-deal Brexit.


What's Hot