70 Labour lawmakers oppose second Brexit referendum

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LONDON: As many as 70 of Britain’s opposition Labour lawmakers oppose holding a second Brexit referendum, Labour lawmaker Caro­line Flint said on Sunday.

Earlier this week Labour said it would back a second referendum in order to try to prevent either a ‘no deal’ or Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal.

“I think there are something like 60-70 Labour members of Parliament who feel as strongly as I do against a second referendum,” said Flint, who represents an area of Britain which voted to leave the EU at the 2016 referendum.

A group of Brexit-supporting lawmakers who rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s European Union exit deal in January have set out the changes they want to see to her agreement in return for their support.

With Britain due to leave the bloc on March 29, May is seeking assurances on the so-called backstop arrangement aimed at preventing a return to hard border controls between EU member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland.

Concerns over the backstop led to parliament overwhelmingly rejecting May’s deal in January, with critics saying it could leave the country tied to EU rules indefinitely.

The Sunday Times said a group including former Brexit minister Dominic Raab and Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader of the Northern Irish party which props up May’s minority government, had drawn up the tests by which they would assess any changes.

“The mechanism has got to be legally binding, so effectively treaty-level change,” one of the group, Conservative lawmaker Michael Tomlinson, said in an interview with the newspaper.

“The second part is the language. It can’t be a reinterpretation of the withdrawal agreement or a re-emphasis; it’s got to be really clear language as to where we are going … The third requirement is a clear exit route.” It comes after Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of a pro-Brexit faction in May’s Conservatives which set up the group, this week scaled back his opposition to her deal saying he would no longer insist that the backstop be removed.

If May secures the demands, she would win the backing of Northern Ireland’s DUP and many Brexit-supporting lawmakers in a vote on the deal promised by March 12, the Times said.

“They have made it very clear that if the effect of any change is to get the guarantees on the Irish backstop that they sought, then that would be sufficient rather than demanding that it has to be done by one mechanism or another,” trade minister Liam Fox told BBC TV on Sunday.

“I hope it is a genuine attempt, and I think it is, to try to map out ground where we can have common territory.”

 

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