Nadine Dorries MP has accused ministers of trying to “stall” Brexit after reports that Theresa May’s deputy Andrew Lidington was secretly meeting with Labour MPs to discuss a second referendum.
The Prime Minister’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell was also said to have told another minister that a second referendum was “the only way forward”, per a report in the Sunday Times. He denied the claims on Twitter.
However, Ms Dorries said a second referendum could be a possibility due to the actions of Mr Barwell and Mr Lidington, in an apparent turnaround from comments she made in October - where she appeared on talkRADIO and said that "nothing Remainers do to try and stall Brexit will happen".
“I absolutely do not want a second referendum, I will campaign against one and argue against one vociferously,” she told Julia Hartley-Brewer.
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“But unfortunately I think one is getting closer, because people running the Prime Minister’s office like Gavin Barwell and David Lidington appear to have been sounding out other MPs across parties.
“There appear to have been moves behind the scenes to make this happen. They see this as a way of kicking Brexit down the road, but also a way of stalling a bit longer.”
She added: “Gavin Barwell didn’t want the first referendum either.”
Mr Barwell posted tweets around the time of the referendum in 2016 about being “proud” of his hometown Croydon voting to remain in the EU.
'We want to leave on WTO terms'
Ms Dorries' preferred course of action, she said, would be to leave the EU on World Trade Organisation terms, but she said she feared the government would not countenance that, despite it being the preference of many Brexiteer MPs.
“I know in my heart the government will not let that happen.
“So what they’ll probably do is extend Article 50, and they will talk about going into a second referendum.
“They will do anything they can to stop the 29th March coming and going and us exiting on WTO rules. It’s what many of us want, it’s what those 117 who voted with no confidence in the Prime Minister, it’s what we want.”