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Monday, April 23, 2018

A referendum on final Brexit deal still possible

With opinion polls starting to show that voters are having second thoughts about Brexit, the Independent reports on an important intervention by one of the Ministers charged with making it happen.

According to the paper, Brexit Minister, Steve Baker has said that MPs will be able to force Theresa May to accept a fresh referendum on Brexit in a showdown vote as early as the autumn. He has conceded that the crucial vote on the exit deal would not, as expected, be a “take-it-or-leave-it” choice, because “parliament can always seek to amend motions”.

He agreed that a possible amendment would be for parliament to only approve the withdrawal agreement struck with the EU “subject to a second referendum”:

Speaking to the Lords constitution committee on Wednesday, Mr Baker suggested parliament had a duty to respect the referendum result and not to “frustrate that process”.

“We will leave, there will not be attempts to stay in by the back door, there will not be an attempt to reverse the result,” he insisted – but he admitted it was “a political point, rather than a constitutional point”.

Ms May has firmly rejected a further referendum, but some pro-EU Tories believe she could yet accept one if it appears the only way to keep her warring party together on Europe.

Similarly, although Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour does not back another referendum, he has left the door open to a change of mind.

There is also evidence that support is growing for a referendum on the Brexit deal, amid continuing confusion about both the planned transition period and the final agreement with the EU.

A recent poll for Best for Britain found that 44 per cent of people want a vote – a clear eight points ahead of the 36 per cent who reject a further referendum.

Opinion appears to be shifting as the negotiations remain bogged down on how to avoid a hard border in Ireland and with the details of a future trade deal unlikely to even be discussed until after departure day.

This is very encouraging. Given the confusion as to what exactly the UK voted for in June 2016, it is crucial in my view and that of others that voters are given an opportunity to pass their verdict on the final deal and what it will mean for them and their families.
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