Cross-Party Anti-Brexit Establishment Talks up General Election, Second Referendum

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Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has called for Labour to include the promise of a second referendum on Brexit in their manifesto in the event that the general election being talked up by Tory Remainer former Prime Minister John Major happens.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Watson told Marr it was “inconceivable” that such a pledge was not included, adding that it was “the only way to bring the country back together” and that the second referendum, a so-called ‘people’s vote,’ was “the solution, not an option”.

Watson’s calls come after Prime Minister Theresa May’s ‘withdrawal agreement’ deal failed to pass through Parliament on the third attempt, leading to speculation that the prime minister may call a snap general election. The Labour deputy leader has said that Jeremy Corbyn has put the party on an “election footing” ahead of such an eventuality.

Former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major — the enabler of the Maastricht Treaty and ardent Remain campaigner — has predicted that there will be a general election within a matter of months, but said that if no clear path presents itself after an election, then a ‘government of national unity’ must be formed in order to break the Brexit deadlock.

The country has had such governments — where MPs of all parties work together — in the past, for instance during the Second World War. But the overwhelmingly pro-Remain nature of Britain’s Parliament would be unlikely to create a government that represents or stands up for the will of the people.

The Daily Mail reports Major’s comments: “I think it would be in the national interest to have a cross-party government so that we can take decisions without the chaos that we’re seeing in Parliament at the moment where every possible alternative is rejected.”

Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg — who has come under some fire from Brexit loyalists this past week for supporting Theresa May’s Brexit ‘deal’ — dismissed Sir John’s calls for a national unity government, pointing out it would only serve to frustrate Brexit.

He told LBC’s Ian Dale Monday morning: “…[a national unity government] means making Jeremy Corbyn deputy prime minister; is that really the way to solve the country’s problems?” He went on to say “the majority in Parliament that this [unity] government would provide is wildly pro-European, so we’re not going to get Brexit from them”.

If the prime minister opts not to call a snap election, Labour MPs might try and force a vote of no confidence in Mrs May’s government. The prime minister survived a vote of no confidence in January shortly after her Withdrawal Agreement failed to pass in the Commons for the first time.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said of the suggestion: “We shall see. I mean, obviously, it does look like the time may come when we will need to call another confidence motion.”

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