Independent Group table second referendum amendment to 'break Brexit gridlock'

'If the Labour leadership supports this amendment, we could make real progress on a People's Vote. Now is the time to put the national interest first'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 26 February 2019 21:02

MPs from the newly-formed Independent Group has tabled an amendment seeking to pave the way for a second Brexit referendum.

The move comes after Labour's announcement the party would back attempts in the Commons for a fresh public vote, if it fails to force MPs to adopt its own Brexit plans in a series of votes on Wednesday evening in the chamber.

The fresh bid has the support of MPs in the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, and Plaid Cymru - increasing the chances of it being selected by the Commons Speaker on Wednesday morning.

If picked by John Bercow - and subsequently passed by MPs - the amendment will instruct Theresa May to table a motion in the Commons for debate before 8 March which sets out the steps necessary for preparing a public vote on whether to proceed with Brexit on terms agreed by parliament, or Remain a member of the EU.

Chris Leslie, a former Labour MP who joined the new grouping last week, said: "At this eleventh hour, it's vital that preparations take place for a People's Vote. This cross-party amendment would require the prime minister to take the steps needed so the public could take control and break through the Brexit gridlock."

"There is no more time to waste," he added. "With Labour now signalling it may support a confirmatory referendum in the weeks ahead, there is no reason to hold back on vital measures to pave the way.

"If the Labour leadership supports this amendment, we could make real progress on a People's Vote. Now is the time to put the national interest first. Parliament must act now."

Referring to his own party's plans in response to Ms May's Brexit statement on Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn told MPs: "The prime minister's botched deal provides no certainty or guarantees for the future and was comprehensively rejected by this House.

"We cannot risk our country's industry and people's livelihoods and so if it somehow does pass in some form at a later stage, we believe there must be a confirmatory public vote to see if people feel it is what they voted for."

It also follows The Independent's campaign for a Final Say referendum, which has been backed by more than 1.1 million people.

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