POLITICS
08/03/2019 16:18 GMT

MPs Could Delay Bid To Secure Fresh Brexit Referendum

But cabinet ministers said to be "curious" about the Kyle-Wilson plan.

A bid to secure a second Brexit referendum could be delayed, amid fears there is not yet enough support for one from MPs.

Next week the Commons could be asked to vote on the so-called Kyle-Wilson amendment to Theresa May’s Brexit deal. This could see MPs support the agreement on the condition it is approved by a public vote.

But one of its promoters, Labour’s Peter Kyle, told HuffPost UK he would not table the amendment if it looked like MPs want to decisively reject the PM’s deal instead of backing his compromise plan. 

Kyle said there would be a “a lot of opportunities” to put forward the amendment at another time if MPs vote to delay Brexit next week.

The Hove MP also revealed that cabinet ministers are “curious” about his plan. 

Labour is now backing the amendment after the language was “sharpened” to address concerns that it could signal support for May’s deal.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has now ruled the wording is now “100%” in line with party policy following talks with Kyle and his fellow backer Phil Wilson.

Kyle said the amendment now makes clear that its backers “withhold consent” for the withdrawal and implementation bill than will enact the deal “until is is confirmed in a public ballot”.

But despite Labour support, many Westminster observers doubt the motion has the numbers to pass the Commons as an amendment to the deal on Tuesday.

Kyle said he would wait to see if May and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox can extract concessions from the EU, and then take the temperature of the “dozens” of MPs from different parties he is in contact with before deciding whether to table the amendment on Monday.

I’m going to get one shot at this and I want to make sure I do justice to the many, many people who are now advocating passionately for this.Labour MP Peter Kyle

“If the mood of the Commons is that it wants to decisively defeat her deal again and therefore not compromise, then I will adjust accordingly,” he said.

“I’m going to get one shot at this and I want to make sure I do justice to the many, many people who are now advocating passionately for this, and for the many people who will have to speak up and lead communities through a very difficult set of discussions off the back of it.

“And I don’t want to do that lightly.”

A Labour source said the party would either table or back an amendment pushing for a “public vote” next week and “continue to push for a close economic relationship as another option”, although that may also come to a head at a later stage.

With just three weeks until Brexit, Kyle said ministers also appeared open to his plan.

Kyle said he had held formal talks with cabinet ministers about the Kyle-Wilson amendment and informal talks in the Commons with May, describing their reaction as “curious”.

“All of them have responded with a whole series of questions, none of them have been dismissive, and incidentally none of them have been discourteous to me,” he said.

“All of them have been engaged in the questions this compromise provokes.”

In a speech on Friday, May however warned against a second referendum.

She said Jeremy Corbyn “now supports holding a divisive second referendum that would take the UK right back to square one”.

The PM also warned another vote could mean “we might never leave the EU at all”, which would be a “political failure” and let down more than 17m Leave voters.

“Some of the people who voted in the referendum did so for the first time in years, why should they ever bother doing so again if their decision was overturned without ever being implemented?”

In a message to Brexit-backing MPs, she said: “The only certain way to avoid it is to back the deal the Government has secured with the EU on Tuesday.

“Let’s get it done.”