Sir Vince Cable has called David Cameron's decision to call a Brexit referendum in 2016 a "terrible mistake".
The former Liberal Democrat leader said there was never a "great public demand" for a vote on Britain's membership of the European Union, and that he believed the former Prime Minister "desperately regrets" the move.
“We had this argument in 2015, it was very clear he [David Cameron] didn’t want a referendum, but he felt it was hoisted on him by the Tory Party,” he said.
“We persuaded him that it wasn’t a great idea, but once we had left the coalition he changed his position and I think he desperately regrets it.”
At the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth at the weekend, party members reiterated their support for revoking Article 50 if they were elected with a majority.
But Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said the Lib Dem’s stance on Brexit would lead to “more delay, division and uncertainty”.
Sir Vince said a Liberal Democrat majority government was a “big stretch”, so a second referendum was the best way to resolve the “terrible mess” of the Brexit debate.
“I don’t know what’s happening inside government but they’re talking about resurrecting Theresa May’s deal with a bit of a change around the Northern Irish problem,” he said.
“If that happens then I think it’s perfectly reasonable to go back to the people and say ‘is this what you voted for when you voted to leave?’”
He added: “Millions of people are going to be very unhappy whatever happens so it’s a question of finding the least-worst [way] forward.”