POLITICS
16/12/2018 22:30 GMT | Updated 16/12/2018 22:30 GMT

Theresa May To Warn Second Brexit Referendum Would Do 'Irreparable Damage' To British Politics

Prime Minister to dampen prospect of another vote after reports of Downing Street plan.

Theresa May will move to dampen calls for a new Brexit referendum by warning a fresh vote would do “irreparable damage” to the integrity of British politics.

After reports at the weekend that Downing Street was preparing for another poll to break the deadlock over her deal with Brussels, the Prime Minister will tell MPs on Monday that the move would send a message to millions of voters that “democracy does not deliver”.

May 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.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for a church service near her Maidenhead constituency.

May is set to address MPs in the wake of a bruising EU summit in Brussels last week during which European leaders largely rebuffed the PM’s calls for reassurances on her Withdrawal Agreement.

The statement to Parliament will follow days of speculation that some Cabinet Ministers and key aides to the PM are manoeuvring for a fresh Brexit poll.

May’s de facto deputy, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, and the PM’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, both dismissed reports they are planning for a new referendum.

The Prime Minister also became embroiled in a highly personalised war of words with one of her predecessors, Tony Blair, over his calls for a fresh Brexit vote.

May accused the ex-Labour PM of insulting the British people, and undermining Brexit negotiations, with calls for a new referendum.

Blair hit back by saying that May’s stance was “irresponsible”.

Labour former foreign secretary, and prominent People’s Vote campaign supporter, Dame Margaret Beckett, said the case for a new Brexit poll was “becoming overwhelming”.

Dame Margaret said: “It is highly significant that Downing Street felt it had to issue these advance extracts of her statement to the House of Commons on Sunday night, because officials know the prospect of a People’s Vote is being discussed not just in Westminster but in the corridors of Whitehall too.

“The case for the public being given the final say is becoming so overwhelming that people from all parties and of none now recognise that this is the best way forward for our country.

“A new public vote would be different from the referendum in 2016 because we now know more about what Brexit means.

“It is vital that leaders who care about the national interest begin preparations for a People’s Vote that can sort out the Brexit mess, give our politics the clarity it needs to move forward and our country the opportunity to move on from the bitter divisions of the past three years.”