Theresa May has attacked one of her predecessors - accusing Tony Blair of "undermining" the Brexit talks by calling for another referendum. She ca
Theresa May has attacked one of her predecessors – accusing Tony Blair of “undermining” the Brexit talks by calling for another referendum.
She called his comments an “insult to the office he once held” and said MPs could not “abdicate responsibility” to deliver Brexit by holding a new poll.
In London last week, Mr Blair said MPs might back a new vote if “none of the other options work”.
Labour MPs who back the idea have met cabinet minister David Lidington.
On Thursday about 10 MPs met Mr Lidington, who is Mrs May’s de facto second-in-command, to argue for another public vote and make it clear there was no other government plan they could support.
But many senior Labour figures are deeply uneasy about endorsing another referendum.
The government is opposed to any further referendum, saying the public made a clear choice when they voted in 2016 to leave by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%.
BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said Mrs May’s criticism of the former Labour prime minister was striking for its anger.
Mrs May said: “For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served.
She added: “We cannot, as he would, abdicate responsibility for this decision.
“Parliament has a democratic duty to deliver what the British people voted for.”
She added that there were “too many people who want to subvert the process for their own political interests – rather than acting in the national interest”.
Meanwhile, sources close to Mr Lidington told the BBC: “He’s not planning for or advocating a second referendum. [He was] just meeting with MPs from all parties to discuss the deal and understand their views – pretty standard stuff when you’re trying to win a vote.”
And the PM’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell has responded to reports in the Mail on Sunday that he told colleagues another referendum was “the only way out of this”, saying on Twitter: “Happy to confirm I am not planning a 2nd referendum with political opponents (or anyone else, to anticipate the next question)”.
MPs were due to vote on Mrs May’s Brexit deal last Tuesday, but it was postponed when the prime minister admitted it would have been “rejected by a significant margin”.
After postponing the vote in Parliament, Mrs May travelled to Brussels to make a special plea to European Union leaders, in a bid to make her deal more acceptable to MPs.
However, the EU said there could be clarification but not renegotiation.