Dame Margaret Beckett: Second Referendum Only Way To Resolve Brexit

26 October 2019, 11:58

Dame Margaret Beckett, who is currently the longest-serving female MP in the House of Commons, told Matt Frei that she increasingly thinks that a second referendum is the only way to resolve the Brexit deadlock.

Dame Margaret Beckett said: "We could have an election and end up with another hung parliament. There is no certainty.

"I mean, if you remember, in 2017, only two years ago, Theresa May was going to have an election which gave her a majority of 100.

"Well, that didn't work out quite the way that she was expecting.

"I personally am not convinced the British people on the whole do not thank you for making them have a general election when they don't need to have one - and we don't need to have this one.

"They can go on and if they find that they can't actually get any sensible legislation through that would be the time to say 'don't you think it's now time for a general election'.

"He's not in that position, he's just pretending to be."

Dame Margaret Beckett: Second Referendum Only Way To Resolve Brexit
Dame Margaret Beckett: Second Referendum Only Way To Resolve Brexit. Picture: PA

Matt Frei asked if the British people would thank her for having another referendum?

She replied: "No, probably not. But it is the best way.

"I'm increasingly thinking the only way to resolve Brexit and I'm very reluctant to get Brexit tied up with a general election because it will poison the atmosphere.

"And, you know, I mean the Prime Minister keeps talking about getting Brexit done.

"Well, we already know if he gets his way, if he gets his deal this year or the beginning of next year, we already know that by June, there's going to be another round just like the one we're having now.

"Because unless it's clear that he's going to get a free trade deal in a year, which most people think is pretty unlikely, we're going to be in exactly the same position of maybe crashing out without a deal which of course, we know, is what he's promised his hardline right-wingers.

"He tells us that, you know, he's got to keep no deal on the table in order to get his deal, he's told them they can still get it."

Matt put it to her that there might not be the numbers in Parliament for a second referendum.

Dame Beckett said: "No, you can never be confident in this parliament who's got the numbers for but people keep saying that in a grand way. It was tested precisely once. And I think it failed by about four votes.

"There are a lot of people who are adamantly opposed to having another referendum and they keep on saying that triumphantly as if something else got a majority.

"But actually, until this week, nothing has had a majority. So the fact that a referendum failed on the only time we were allowed to try it is not certainty that it would fail.

"Now, it might. And, you know, I think all of us who would like to see that happen, go back to the people for their view.

"I mean, it seems to me that it's incredibly simple.

"They were told all kinds of things in 2016 about how great this was going to be and what Brexit would mean. The now being told something completely different about what Brexit will mean.

"Now, it may still be absolutely okay with most people who voted Brexit and if that so, then it's a good thing and a healthy thing for us to know that. It's not a good thing for the government to drag us out of the European Union without the courtesy of asking the people if that's still what they want."