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Brexit: Row breaks out among supporters of fresh referendum over Lib Dem push for early vote

Brexit: Row breaks out among supporters of fresh referendum over Lib Dem push for early vote

A major row has broken out between supporters of a Final Say Brexit referendum, over a Liberal Democrat push for a vote next week. Vince Cable’s party tabled an amendment to next week’s crucial Commons vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal deal, which would approve it – subject to a fresh public vote. Jeremy Corbyn has…

A major row has broken out between supporters of a Final Say Brexit referendum, over a Liberal Democrat push for a vote next week.

Vince Cable’s party tabled an amendment to next week’s crucial Commons vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal deal, which would approve it – subject to a fresh public vote.

But the move was quickly denounced by the People’s Vote campaign as “deeply unhelpful”, because it will come too soon to have any realistic hope of success.

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The Lib Dems were also accused of “political point scoring”, after the party attacked Labour for failing to support its amendment – laying bare a clear split over the campaign’s tactics.

Jeremy Corbyn has left open the option of backing a Final Say referendum eventually, but only if his attempt to force a general election – after the likely defeat of the government’s deal – fails.

Defending the move, Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat’s Brexit spokesman, said: “The Liberal Democrats have led the campaign for a people’s vote.

“We are proud to have tabled an amendment which, if passed, would ensure the people get the final say on Brexit.”

But a People’s Vote spokesman said: “The amendment by the Liberal Democrats is deeply unhelpful at this stage and does not have cross-party support or the backing of the People’s Vote campaign.

“The focus and strategy of our campaign has always been first to get the government’s Brexit deal rejected by parliament on Tuesday and then pave the way for a People’s Vote when it has maximum support in the House of Commons.”

The statement added that the Lib Dem amendment was “more about political point scoring than following a strategy”.

The Independent has coordinated with the People’s Vote initiative as part of our Final Say campaign, jointly handing in a petition containing more than 1.4 million signatures to Downing Street this week.

The speaker will decide whether to select the Lib Dem amendment among up to six that will be called before the “meaningful vote”, around 8.30pm on Tuesday.

It mirrors one originally tabled by Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative chairwoman of the Commons health committee, with other doctors in the Commons.

They back another referendum because Brexit should only go ahead with the “informed consent” of voters – but agreed to put their amendment on hold, because it is too early to push it in the Commons.

Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru have combined to back an amendment that would reject Ms May’s plan and demand an extension to the Article 50 process to allow more time for negotiations.

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader, said: “Theresa May’s Brexit proposals are damaging to Scotland and the rest of the UK, and so we are calling on the UK government to request an extension to the period of negotiation under Article 50 to ensure the UK doesn’t crash out of the EU without a deal.”

Both the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly have rejected Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement.


The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.

Sign our petition here

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