Theresa May's Brexit bill to include vote on second referendum

Theresa May: Withdrawal Agreement Bill to include vote on second referendum

The Prime Minister addressing press at Downing Street

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Prime Minister has said that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill will include “a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum”.

Speaking in central London, Theresa May said: "I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue.

"The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum and this must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified."

Conservative MP Simon Clarke described the Prime Minister's Withdrawal Agreement Bill as "outrageous". 

Mrs May also said that the new Brexit deal will seek to conclude alternative arrangements for the Irish backstop by December 2020.

She said: "Although it's not possible for (alternative arrangements) to replace the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, we can start the work now to ensure they are a viable alternative.

"So as part of the new Brexit deal we will place the government under a legal obligation to seek to conclude alternative arrangements by December 2020 so that we can avoid any need for the backstop coming into force."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted saying that the Prime Minister's new Withdrawal Agreement did not ensure the deal was put to a second referendum. 

The Prime Minister warned this was the last chance to avoid "a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics" and her deal would be guaranteed to last for "at least this Parliament".

She said: "If MPs vote against the second reading of this Bill they are voting to stop Brexit.

"If they do so the consequences could hardly be greater - reject this deal and leaving the EU with a negotiated deal any time soon will be dead in the water and what would we do then?

"... If not no-deal then it would have to be a general election or a second referendum that could lead to revocation and no Brexit at all."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would not support a "repackaged version of the same old deal".

He said: "The Prime Minister's proposal tonight seems to be largely a rehash of the Government's position in the cross-party talks that failed to reach a compromise last week.

"On key elements - customs, market alignment and environmental protections - what the Prime Minister calls her new Brexit deal is effectively a repackaging of the same old bad deal, rejected three times by Parliament.

"We will, of course, look seriously at the details of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill when it is published. But we won't back a repackaged version of the same old deal - and it's clear that this weak and disintegrating Government is unable deliver on its own commitments."

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