Government Would 'Consider' Second Referendum To Break Brexit Deadlock, Geoffrey Cox Says

But attorney general thinks a "great deal of persuasion" would be needed for ministers to agree.

The government would “consider” a second referendum as a way of breaking the Brexit deadlock in parliament, Geoffrey Cox has revealed.

The attorney general’s comments came amid crunch talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, whose party has previously vowed to push for another public vote on leaving the EU.

Meanwhile, it was reported the PM is expected to write to the Labour leader to set out the government’s offer on Brexit, which will include the proposal that a confirmatory referendum on any deal will be offered to MPs as an option in any vote next week.

“The prime minister and the government are entering these discussions in good faith and with no preconditions,” Cox told BBC Radio 4’s ‘Political Thinking with Nick Robinson’ podcast.

“I think a good deal of persuasion might be needed to satisfy the government that a second referendum would be appropriate. But of course we will consider any suggestion that’s made.”

It comes after chancellor Philip Hammond described a second referendum as a “perfectly credible proposition” – unlike other ideas put forward “which are not deliverable, they are not negotiable”.

The government must use “any lawful means to secure the ends” in achieving Brexit, Cox told Robinson.

“We are assisting at the birth of something new,” he said. “Births are not always easy and we must take the necessary steps to achieve our departure.”

Asked whether that means the Labour leader would be the midwife, Cox replied: “So be it. What matters is this is born.

“When you come to that last step, there is inevitably a moment of hesitation, which is what the House of Commons is going through now. I’m anxious that people will be conquered by fear rather than by the courage and necessity of taking this last step.”

Meanwhile, on the option of remaining in a customs union – one of Labour’s Brexit red lines – Cox said May was open to “a flexible discussion without laying pre-conditions”.

“If the discussion moves towards a customs union, we’ll have to see precisely what that entails. Of course we’re talking about a negotiating mandate, not signing up to one.”

May revealed on Tuesday that she would be inviting Corbyn for talks on how to break the Brexit impasse in parliament.

A spokesperson for No. 10 said both May and Corbyn had shown “flexibility” in the discussions.


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