Justine Greening, who was education secretary until January, on Monday was the first top Conservative leader to call for another referendum on leaving the European Union, dubbing the proposal outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May a “fudge”.
Even as May put up a brave front at the Farnborough air show, another minister resigned over her plan that seeks continued links with the EU after Brexit. The resignation by Scott Mann, junior minister in the Treasury, comes close on the heels of foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit secretary David Davis quitting their posts and has taken the number of those leaving office since May outlined her plan to nine.
Greening, who defeated Labour’s Neeraj Patil in Putney in the 2017 mid-term election, described May’s plan in an article in The Times as “the worst of both worlds”, adding that the final decision should be given back to the people and out of “deadlocked politicians” hands.
According to her, there are three options — May’s deal, staying in the EU or a clean break from Europe with no deal. Greening, who resigned after the cabinet reshuffle in January, said the referendum should offer a first and second preference vote so that a consensus can be reached.
She said: “The reality is parliament is now stalemated. Whatever the proposal on the table, there will be MPs who vote it down. But Britain needs to find a route forward.”
In her article, Greening criticised May’s plan: “We’ll be dragging Remain voters out of the EU for a deal that means still complying with many EU rules, but now with no say on shaping them. It’s not what they want, and on top of that, when they hear that Leave voters are unhappy, they ask, ‘What’s the point?’
“For Leavers, this deal simply does not deliver the proper break from the European Union that they wanted.”
Also on Monday, Johnson used his return as a columnist for The Daily Telegraph on Monday to present his pro-Brexit vision, insisting that “the rest of the world believes in Britain. It’s time we did too”.
May is due to face challenge to her plan from inside and outside her party during voting for Brexit-related bills in the House of Commons this week, before parliament adjourns for the summer recess.
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