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16th Jul 2018

First senior Tory breaks ranks and calls for second Brexit referendum

Former cabinet member Justine Greening has come back to haunt Theresa May

Oli Dugmore

Former cabinet member Justine Greening has come back to haunt Theresa May

Former education secretary Justine Greening has become the first senior Tory to call for a second referendum on EU membership.

Writing in The Times today, Greening called Theresa May’s Brexit White Paper “a fudge I can’t support,” alleging that the deal contains “the worst of both worlds.”

Amid the resignations of foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit secretary David Davis last week, Greening concluded that the “only solution is to take the final Brexit decision out of the hands of deadlocked politicians.”

Theresa May now faces attacks from both remainers and leavers within the Conservative party, as her tepid approach to leaving the EU pleases neither cluster of MPs.

Further interventions are expected from Amber Rudd and Dominic Grieve on the remain side, meanwhile Boris Johnson has returned to his Telegraph column – whether he will play nicely without being beholden to cabinet’s collective responsibility remains to be seen.

Former education secretary Greening left cabinet in January after Theresa May tried to move her to a different department.

Justine Greening on a second referendum

She said: “Brexit has to be above party politics, what’s right for the country needs to come first.

“Parliament is now stalemated on a way forward on Brexit, if it’s the prime minister’s deal it will be voted down, if it’s a proposal for no deal that will be voted down, all parliament can do is block a route forward.

“If that’s the case and a reality the only way we can find a way forward is take the vote to the British people and ask them to make a decision.”

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson this weekend also refused to rule out the possibility of a second referendum. He said it would be a “mistake” for Labour to take a people’s vote on the final deal “off the table.”