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May says MPs who don't back her Brexit deal risk damaging democracy

The British Prime Minister is resisting calls for a second referendum on Britain leaving the EU.

may2 Prime Minister Theresa May leaving BBC Broadcasting House in London after appearing on The Andrew Marr Show this morning. Source: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

THERESA MAY HAS said MPs who don’t back her Brexit deal risk damaging democracy.

The Prime Minister has also doubled down on her opposition to another public vote on the matter, saying it would “divide” Britain and be “disrespectful” to those who voted to leave the European Union.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, May said MPs who don’t back her deal risk damaging democracy. 

“There are some in Parliament who, despite voting in favour of holding the referendum, voting in favour of triggering Article 50 and standing on manifestos committed to delivering Brexit, now want to stop us leaving by holding another referendum.

Others across the House of Commons are so focused on their particular vision of Brexit that they risk making a perfect ideal the enemy of a good deal.

“Both groups are motivated by what they think is best for the country, but both must realise the risks they are running with our democracy and the livelihoods of our constituents,” May wrote. 

During the week, an opinion poll found that more than half of Conservative Party members would prefer a no-deal Brexit rather than the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Meanwhile, speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, May said there “should not be a second referendum”.

“What we see in parliament is some people who are advocating a second referendum because they want to stop Brexit.”

May noted that others, however, do not want a second vote, stating: “The chairman of the Labour Party, Ian Lavery, has said that this would be disrespectful to people who went out and voted Leave.

It would divide our country, it would, I believe. And practically, actually you couldn’t get a referendum in time before 29 March.

“You’d be talking about extending Article 50 – we’re already nearly three years from the vote to leave the European Union, I think we should be leaving the European Union and delivering on that vote.”

Shutdown 

Earlier today the Sunday Times reported that a group of cross-party senior MPs are considering causing a government shutdown in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

When Marr asked if May would back a second referendum if the House of Commons voted for such a scenario, she said it’s her job to convince MPs that this is “not the way forward for this country”.

“We’ve got different views across the House of Commons, we’ve got people who want a second referendum to stop Brexit, we’ve got people who are trying to use various means in the House of Commons to stop no-deal.

“My message to anybody who doesn’t want no-deal is actually you have two alternatives: no-deal or you can have a deal, and the deal that is on the table is the deal people will be voting on.”

House of Commons vote 

In December, May postponed a vote on the draft Withdrawal Agreement so she could seek additional assurances on the backstop element of the deal. 

She has insisted a vote on the agreement will go ahead this month. 

Many politicians have raised concerns about the backstop, which aims to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland and could see the North stay aligned to some EU rules.

The Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s minority government, believes the backstop threatens the United Kingdom and could lead to a trade border in the Irish Sea.

Preparations are being made at British, Irish and European level for a no-deal Brexit, in case an agreement is not reached ahead of the official withdrawal date of 29 March. 

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Órla Ryan

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