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Wednesday , December 8 2021

No to second BREXIT vote: UK govt

LONDON, Dec 16, (Agencies): Britain’s government is not preparing for a second referendum on Brexit, ministers said on Sunday, sticking to the script that Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal could still pass through parliament with a few changes. May delayed a vote last week on her agreement to leave the European Union because she was set to lose in parliament and has tried to secure “assurances” from the bloc to try to better sell it to sceptical lawmakers. Brussels said last week it was ready to help but warned her that she could not renegotiate the deal.

With less than four months before Britain is due to leave in March, Brexit, the biggest shift in trade and foreign policy for more than 40 years, is proving anything but smooth, complicated by the deep divisions in parliament and across the country. With May facing deadlock in parliament over the deal and the EU offering little so far, more politicians are talking about the possibility of Britain leaving without an agreement or a second referendum that could stop Brexit from happening. Asked if the government was preparing for a vote, education minister Damian Hinds told Sky News: “No, a second referendum would be divisive. We’ve had the people’s vote, we’ve had the referendum and now we’ve got to get on with implementing it.”

Trade minister Liam Fox also said a second referendum would “perpetuate” the deep divisions in Britain, adding that the prime minister was securing the necessary assurances to persuade parliament to back her deal. He said that would take some time. “It will happen over Christmas, it’s not going to happen this week, it’s not going to be quick, it will happen some time in the New Year,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. But the longer it takes, voices urging a change of tack are getting louder and the pressure on the main opposition Labour Party to move against the government is rising.

May survived a no confidence vote among her Conservative lawmakers last week, but opposition parties are calling for Labour to propose a parliamentary motion of no confidence against the government this week. Labour has repeatedly said it will call such a motion at “the best time”, or when it knows it can win, and for now will try to force the government to bring its deal to parliament sooner.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s policy chief for communities and local government, said: “We will be using whatever mechanisms we have at our disposal next week to try and force the government to bring forward that deal for a vote before Christmas.” Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May and former prime minister Tony Blair have exchanged sniping attacks as Britain’s divorce from the European Union keeps getting uglier. May has accused Blair of “undermining” her efforts to deliver Brexit by calling for a second referendum on whether or not Britain should leave the bloc. May, of the Conservative party, says his comments were “an insult to the office he once held.”

Blair shot back, declaring that May had been “irresponsible” for trying to “steamroll” lawmakers into accepting her deal or face the prospects of no deal at all. The former Labour Party leader says Sunday he had a right to comment on “the most important decision our country has taken since the end of World War II.” The comments come amid heated discussions on whether another Brexit vote is appropriate. Britain would likely have to delay its departure from the European Union or rescind its exit notification “for the moment” if it wanted to put an “entirely new” Brexit proposal forward, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Sunday.

“If there is an entirely new proposal coming from the UK, I think undoubtedly it would need a lot more time to be considered on the EU side and that would probably involve an extension of Article 50 or pulling Article 50 for the moment,” Coveney told RTE television when asked how the EU would react to a British parliamentary majority for an alternative to the current deal. “But I think that would be a big decision for the UK to make and (British Prime Minister) Theresa May has said she doesn’t want to do that,” Coveney said. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that the British parliament could back Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal if lawmakers received assurances from the European Union, but warned that a no deal Brexit was still on the table.

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