Brexit wars: Justine Greening calls for second referendum, Robert Halfon calls the idea 'bonkers'

Brexit wars: Justine Greening calls for second referendum, Robert Halfon calls the idea 'bonkers'

Justine Greening, left, and Robert Halfon

Monday, July 16, 2018

MPs are showing no signs of coming to an agreement over the Brexit bill.

As former education secretary Justine Greening calls for a second referendum, others say calling for another public vote is a Remain tactic to get the result they want.

Greening, who supported Remain in the run-up to the 2016 referendum, told Julia Hartley-Brewer that “parliament has reached an impasse” and the choice should go back to the British people.


‘Parliament has failed’

“We’ve tried for the past two years but I think we have to recognise that we’ve failed, and we have to be pragmatic… The only way we can find a clear direction on Brexit is to go back to the British people and put the decision back in their hands,” she said.

She explained that her proposed referendum would offer three options: a soft Brexit, a no-deal Brexit or “clean break”, or remaining in the EU.

She called Theresa May’s Chequers deal “the worst of all worlds” and claimed even some Leave voters would rather remain in the EU than have a compromise deal.

“If you talk to Leave voters, a lot will say, we’re either in or we’re out,” she said.

“We want to be out, but if we can’t have a proper clean break, then we’re better off being around the table influencing the rules than having to accept them.”


‘People should vote for first, second and third choice’

A YouGov poll of 1,732 voters for The Times found that 39% felt the Chequers deal did not respect the result of the referendum, and 42% felt the deal would not be good for Britain, compared to 13% who thought it would.

“People should be able to vote for the first, second and third choice,”said Greening of a second referendum.

“What is clear to me is that regrettably, parliament will not be able to take that decision that Britain needs.”

She added that her proposals didn’t hint at a lack of support for the Prime Minister, but were aimed at trying to give the public what they want.

“This isn’t about the Prime Minister, she’s done her best to come up with a workable compromise, but what we’ve actually got from Chequers is a compromise that people don’t accept,” she said.


‘A second referendum is bonkers’

MP for Harlow Robert Halfon said a second referendum would turn the UK into a “banana republic”.

“You’ve heard of fake news - a second referendum would be a fake referendum. We’d become a banana republic,” he said.

“I voted Remain but I passionately believe we have to do what the public voted for. 68% of people in my constituency of Harlow voted to leave, and they were really angry over the Chequers deal… they felt it had subverted what they’d voted for.”

Rather than another vote, he said the Prime Minister should “recognise the Chequers deal takes us backwards in terms of what the people voted for and needs to look again.”

“The idea of a second referendum is just bonkers, how many referendums should we have?” he asked.

“These people are all arch-Remainers who don’t believe the public made the right decision, they just want another referendum until they get the result they want.”

His views echo Jacob Rees-Mogg’s, who told Hartley-Brewer that the Chequers policy “needs to be changed”.