Brexit: Theresa May rules out holding another referendum despite mass Final Say protest
PM also says general election would not be in the ‘national interest’
Theresa May has stood firm and ruled out giving the British people a final say on her Brexit deal, despite a groundswell of support for a second vote.
700,000 people took to the streets of central London last weekend to demand a referendum, while over a million people have now signed The Independent’s petition, as polls show a trend in favour of a plebiscite.
But speaking during a summit in the Norwegian capital of Oslo the prime minister once again ruled out changing her mind, stating: “There will be no second referendum on Brexit.”
The PM also effectively ruled out any further public input on her negotiations, warning against a general election.
“No. We are not preparing for another general election. That would not be in the national interest,” she said.
It comes as Norweigian prime minister Erna Solberg poured cold water on suggestions the UK could temporarily stay in the European Economic Area (EEA) after Brexit, stating it would be “a little bit difficult” for some of its members to accept.
The idea had been suggested by some Conservative MPs as an extra transition period. Ms Solberg however restated that Norway was open to the UK becoming a permanent EEA state.
It was announced at the summit that the UK and Norway had reached an agreement that will guarantee the rights of each others’ citizens after Brexit, even in the event of a no-deal.
The accord follows Ms May saying she would unilaterally guarantee EU citizens’ rights in the event of a no-deal.
The question of another general election has been raised in recent weeks as it becomes clear that it will be very difficult for the prime minister to pass any Brexit deal through the House of Commons.
Some observers believe that the Budget announced by Philip Hammond on Monday resembled a pre-election budget, with accelerated income tax cuts and some other popular measures.
Fresh elections could be tempting because the prime minister lacks a majority in the House of Commons, meaning there is a good chance any Brexit deal she negotiates could be voted down.
Though she secured the support of the right-wing DUP with an extra £1bn for Northern Ireland after the 2017 election, the party has since said it would not vote for an emerging deal that treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK.
But with the Conservatives yet to open up a substantial lead in the polls – and memories of last year’s shock result still fresh – the PM appears yet to be tempted.
In a speech at the Oslo summit, which was about Nordic and Baltic cooperation, the PM tried to reassure her counterparts that the UK was not drifting into isolationism with Brexit, stating that the UK would “remain active members of the UN. Of Nato. Of the Northern Future Forum, the Nordic Plus group of development ministers and the Northern Group of defence ministers.”
She added: “We will continue to act as observers on the Arctic Council, further strengthen our relations with the Nordic Council, and embrace the possibilities of closer bilateral engagement.
“And, of course, we will build a new partnership with the EU and with the EEA and EFTA countries.
“One that will deliver on the democratic wishes of the British people while maintaining our commitment to international cooperation in pursuit of our shared values.
“I would ask all of you here today to work with us to build that partnership – just as we have worked together for many years to build the partnership the UK and Nordic nations now enjoy.”
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.
Sign our petition here