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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 22 October, 2019

Senior Tory minister says second Brexit referendum could be 'plausible' way forward

The risk of a no deal Brexit remains very high.

AMBER RUDD BROKE ranks among UK Cabinet ministers yesterday, and signalled a “plausible argument” could be made for a second referendum if the House of Commons is unable to agree a way forward on Brexit.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston programme, the Work and Pensions Secretary said that while she personally did not support another referendum, she could understand why calls for one would grow if parliament remained at its current impasse.

“I have said I don’t want a people’s vote or a referendum in general, but if parliament absolutely failed to reach a consensus, I can see there will be a plausible argument,” Rudd said. 

She added that it was incumbent on MPs to find the centre ground and reach a consensus, and that she believed the British people didn’t want to be asked to vote again.

“I can see the argument for taking it back to the people again, much as it would distress many of my colleagues,” the minister added.

Her comments came amidst ongoing chaos in Westminster, following Theresa May’s cancellation of her Brexit vote in the House of Commons and repeated challenges to her leadership from in and outside her party.

This vote is due to be held next month, but it remains unlikely May will get it through given that she postponed the vote originally because the numbers weren’t there for her to win.

The backstop that would prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland remains a crucial sticking point for hardline Brexiteers within the Conservative party and the DUP, meaning May is left bereft of a majority to get her deal through. 

Given this impasse, the threat of a no-deal looms larger with less than 100 days until Britain formally leaves the EU.

Last night, the Irish government published its preparations thus far for a no-deal Brexit

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that the plan makes for a “stark” and “sobering” read, and said that this wasn’t a plan to keep things as they are, but a “damage-limiting exercise”.

The British Cabinet also agreed this week to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit, as that prospect looks increasingly likely. 

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha, Simon Coveney.

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Sean Murray

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