John Major steps up Remainer push for fresh Brexit referendum

Remainers ramp up push for fresh EU referendum as it emerges Lib Dem leader Vince Cable missed crucial Brexit vote for secret talks about creating new ‘centrist’ party

  • Tory ex-PM John Major says second EU referendum would be ‘morally justified’
  • Intervention comes amid fresh push from Remainers to head off Brexit process
  • Vince Cable claims he missed crunch vote for talks on forming anti-Brexit party  

Remainers ramped up the push for a second EU referendum today – amid fevered plotting about creating a new ‘centrist’ anti-Brexit political party.

Tory former PM Sir John Major insisted another national ballot would ‘morally justified’ because pledges from Eurosceptics during the 2016 had turned out to be false.

The intervention came as nearly 40 Opposition MPs signed an open letter calling for the public to be given another chance to decide on future ties with the EU.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable missed a crunch Brexit vote last week because he was having secret talks about joining forces with other Remainer politicians.

Some Lib Dem activists have been so incensed at the absence that they are threatening to oust him. 

Tory former PM Sir John Major insisted on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show today (pictured) that another national ballot would ‘morally justified’ because pledges from Eurosceptics during the 2016 had turned out to be false

Sir Vince Cable (pictured right) confirmed today that he was at a ‘confidential private dinner’ during last week’s crucial Brexit vote on whether the UK should stay in the customs union. Some Lib Dem activists are so furious at his absence they want to replace him as leader with Layla Moran (left)

Supporters of a new party will point to a poll today that suggests around a third of the public would consider voting for an anti-Brexit movement.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show this morning, Sir John took aim at the ‘fantasy promises’ from the Leave side in the referendum. 

‘It has downsides. I mean, frankly, a second vote has democratic downsides. It has difficulties,’ he said.

‘But is it morally justified? I think it is.

‘If you look back at the Leave campaign a great many of the promises they made were fantasy promises.

‘We now know they are not going to be met.’


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Referring to the ‘irreconcilable’ stance taken by hardline Tory Brexiteers, Sir John said: ‘That has boxed the Government and particularly the Prime Minister into a corner.

‘They are a minority of the House of Commons, a substantial minority of the House of Commons, but they are larger than the Government’s majority.

‘The danger at the moment is that they will frustrate every move the Government seek to make and by accident, because nothing can be agreed, we will crash out without a deal.’

The letter urging a new Brexit referendum – including an option to stay in the EU – has been signed by 38 Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs. Several Tories including Anna Soubry and Justine Greening have also endorsed the idea recently, although they have not added their names to this missive.

Sir Vince confirmed today that he was at a ‘confidential private dinner’ during last week’s crucial Brexit vote on whether the UK should stay in the customs union.

Theresa May, pictured at church in her Maidenhead constituency today with husband Philip, is battling to hold the Tories together as she desperately scrambles to put together a deal with the EU

The government defeated the idea by a tiny margin of just six votes – thanks in part to the absence of Sir Vince and fellow Lib Dem Tim Farron. 

Amid fury from activists threatening to oust him, sources close to Sir Vince told the Sunday Times he was at a dinner with people involved in the potential new movement. 

The veteran former Cabinet minister told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 live that he ‘got it wrong’ and it was a ‘mistake’ to miss the vote.

He refused to confirm the dinner he was attending was to discuss the possibility of setting up of a new centrist anti-Brexit party, but added: ‘In the longer term there may be a re-alignment because of the deep splits in the parties and I want my party to be at the centre of it.’

‘The tensions building up in the Conservative and the Labour Parties are so severe it’s difficult to see them surviving in their present form’ although he said his immediate priority is to work with people in all parties to stop Brexit.’ 

 

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