Brexit: Second referendum would vote Leave again, Macron's EU election chief says

Nathalie Loiseau said Brexit had to happen

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Wednesday 22 May 2019 18:13

Emmanuel Macron's EU election chief has warned that a second EU referendum in Britain would probably result in the country voting to leave again.

Nathalie Loiseau, who was the French government's Europe minister in charge of Brexit talks until she took on her new role for this week's contest, said she doubted that another vote would produce "a very different outcome".

The comments highlight the ambivalence in some quarters of EU capitals to Britain staying in the bloc, and the level of confusion about the political situation in the UK.

"I'm not sure that a new referendum would necessarily have a very different outcome. I fear that the result would be again a very divided England," Ms Loiseau told broadcaster RTL.

She added that the current Brexit situation was a result of "the bankruptcy of populists and formulas with the cookie cutter" and said France's priority should be "that they do not export their crisis in the European Union".

"England must go forward, Brexit must take place, and if need be in the future, later we will talk about [membership] again," she said.

"But they cannot keep their foot in the door, say 'I want to stay but leave, both at the same time, and above all block everything in the European Union'."

The latest polling on a second referendum suggests only a marginal movement towards remain, with a Kantar survey released this week showing Remain at 54 per cent and Leave at 46 per cent. Most polls are now showing the public would prefer to remain, however.

Ms Loiseau is leading the electoral list for Mr Macron's party and will likely end up as a senior MEP after this week's contest.

Despite the polling, activists are keenly aware that polls also showed Remain ahead before the first referendum - which resulted in a Leave victory.

The prospect of a final say referendum is still uncertain, however. MPs have rejected the idea twice in indicative votes, despite the main opposition party Labour whipping for it on both occasions.

Theresa May this week offered MPs the prospect of another vote on a referendum, but only if her deal is passed - which looks extremely unlikely, given the strong adverse reaction to it from all sides.

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