May rejects calls for second Brexit referendum in ‘Plan B’ speech

British Prime Minister Theresa May has reiterated her plans to secure a Brexit deal to leave the EU with the backing of Parliament in Westminster.

Following the heavy defeat of her withdrawal agreement last week, and her subsequent seeing off of opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn’s motion of no confidence, the Prime Minister outlined that she and her cabinet colleagues have been engaging with members of Parliament from all sides to gauge opinions.

During her address, the Prime Minister appeared to rule out a second referendum

“The process of engagement is ongoing. In the next few days my ministerial colleagues and I will continue to meet with members on all sides of this house,” May said.

I fear a second referendum would set a difficult precedent that could have significant implications for how we handle referendums in our country; not least strengthening the hand of those campaigning to break up our United Kingdom.

May also rejected the notion of revoking Article 50, which triggered the Brexit process.

She added that extending Article 50 is also likely a non-runner with the EU, which she said is “very unlikely to simply agree to extend Article 50 without a plan for how we are going to approve a deal”.

“Whilst I will disappoint those colleagues who had hoped to have a second referendum, I do not believe there is a majority in this house for such a path.

“And whilst I want to deliver a deal with the EU I cannot support the only other way to take no deal off the table, which is to revoke Article 50.

So my focus continues to be on what is needed to secure the support of this house in favour of a Brexit deal with the EU.

“And my sense, so far, is that the three key changes are needed:

“First we will be more flexible, open and inclusive in the future in how we engage Parliament in our approach to negotiating our partnership with the European Union.

“Second we will embed the strongest possible protections on workers’ rights and the environment.

“And third we will work to identify how we can ensure that our commitment to no hard border in Northern Ireland and Ireland can be delivered in a way that commands the support of this house and the European Union.

“In doing so, we will honour the mandate of the British people and leave the EU in a way which benefits every part of our United Kingdom and every citizen of our country and I commend this statement to the house,” the Prime Minister concluded.

She said that the UK’s devolved administrations will be given an enhanced role in the next phase of negotiations, adding: “We will also look for further ways to engage elected representatives from Northern Ireland and regional representatives in England.”