Tim Farron says Theresa May could be forced to hold a second EU referendum

Lib Dem leader says PM is a 'pragmatic' politician who could be swayed by public opinion

Adam Withnall
Sunday 18 September 2016 13:10
Tim Farron says Theresa May could be forced to hold a second EU referendum

The Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says Theresa May could be forced to change her mind and hold a second referendum on leaving the EU, if public opinion shifts against the terms of Britain’s exit.

Mr Farron said he respected the result of the referendum in June, and said that unlike the Labour leadership contender Owen Smith, he would not support a referendum on re-joining the EU even after Britain has left, saying: “I have to say, that might be too late.”

But he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that with the specifics of Brexit still to be determined, the British people deserved to be consulted again when the deal became clear.

“We trusted the British people on departure, in the referendum in June,” he said. “We should now trust them with destination.

“The deal that will be settled for the future of the United Kingdom’s relationship with Europe, freedom of movement, the single market and everything else is utterly unclear.

“You don’t know what it is, I don’t know, the British people don’t know. I doubt even Theresa May knows.

“There needs to be a referendum on that deal. That is the best option for us staying in. It is also the best option for the whole of our society gathering around whatever we do next.”

Andrew Marr suggested that was entirely up to Theresa May, and that she had said it was not something she would be willing to do.

Mr Farron responded: ‘If public opinion changes, if people see the deal unravelling and it being not what they voted for, then Theresa May is a pragmatic enough person to understand that if the population of this country believe that the deal she is stitching up with Brussels is something that they do not think that they voted for, I think she will shift.”

On the Labour leadership election, Mr Farron said Mr Smith seemed like a “reasonable, genuine guy” who he could work with.

And he said that while the collapse of Labour and the dissolution of Remain voters in the referendum offered an “enormous opportunity” to the Lib Dems, if Labour were to split it would be bad news for British democracy.

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