Final Say: Parliament can legislate for fresh referendum within weeks, says Vince Cable

Liberal Democrat leader expected to dismiss concerns from Brexiteer 'fanatics' that there is no time for legislation for a fresh vote to be pushed through the Commons

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Saturday 11 August 2018 11:16 BST
Chuka Umunna and John Rentoul debate the possibility of another Brexit referendum

Sir Vince Cable is set to claim it is possible to legislate for a fresh referendum within weeks and for it to be held before the Article 50 process expires.

In a speech during a rally on Saturday – organised by the People’s Vote campaign for a fresh referendum – Sir Vince is expected to dismiss concerns from Brexiteer “fanatics” that there is no time to get legislation through parliament for a second public vote.

“They are wrong, if not deliberately misleading. If parliament could pass laws to nationalise banks during the financial crash in a matter of days, then we can secure the legislation to allow people their right to a final say within weeks,” he will tell people.

The remarks from Sir Vince come after The Independent’s petition – calling for a Final Say on any Brexit deal Theresa May returns from Brussels with – topped 600,000 signatures.

But in an evaluation of the 2016 referendum, the Electoral Commission recommended that legislation should be clear at least six months before polling day.

It took seven months for parliament to sign off the last referendum legislation in an act of parliament, meaning MPs would have to work at an extraordinarily fast pace to pass fresh legislation if they were to go ahead with the recommendations of the Electoral Commission.

At the rally in Bristol on Saturday, the senior Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, who became the latest high-profile politician to back calls for a People’s Vote, will join Sir Vince.

Ahead of the visit, he added: “People in the southwest – from the Isles of Scilly to Gloucester – will be hit hard by a bad Brexit deal.

“People’s jobs, security, the local economy and the produce which makes us so proud of the southwest are all under threat from Brexit. The government are making a mess out of Brexit – but it is not a done deal.

“I am delighted to come back to Bristol on 11 August to join the hundreds of people calling for a People’s Vote. Whether you voted leave or remain in the referendum, the Liberal Democrats believe it is your right to have the final say on the Brexit deal through a People’s Vote.”

His intervention comes after a major poll from the People’s Vote campaign, which revealed that half of British people want a referendum on membership of the European Union if the Brexit talks collapse and the country faces the prospect of a no deal.

The survey by YouGov, which included a weighted sample of more than 10,000 people, found just a quarter would want MPs to be given the final decision.

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