Theresa May rules out second Brexit referendum

Eight frantic days to break the Brexit deadlock
Ian Berry/CNNMoney

British Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out a second referendum on Britain’s exit from the European Union, saying it would be a “gross betrayal” of democracy.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, May said she would not “give in to those who want to re-open the whole question with a second referendum,” adding that “to ask the question all over again would be a gross betrayal of our democracy — and a betrayal of that trust.”

Her comments came after “the People’s Vote” campaign group, which is calling for a second Brexit referendum, recently secured a $1.3 million (£1 million) donation from British fashion mogul Julian Dunkerton.

Other high-profile backers of another referendum include former PM Tony Blair, former Rolls-Royce chairman Simon Robertson, actor Patrick Stewart and BBC football host Gary Lineker.

UK voters in June 2016 voted yes in a referendum to leave the EU, more than four decades after joining. Brexit is due to take place on March 29, 2019, followed by a 21-month transition period when the divorce comes into effect.

UK lawmakers are expected to vote on a final Brexit deal as early as next month. But with the UK and EU still at loggerheads over May’s Brexit plan, announced in July, this deadline appears unlikely to be met.

May said that she was confident a “good deal” would be reached, but admitted there was “still a lot more negotiating to be done.”

“It is only responsible that we have also spent time this summer preparing for a ‘no deal’ scenario, just as the EU have done too,” she wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. “As the head of the [World Trade Organization] has said, no deal would not be the end of the world, but it wouldn’t be a walk in the park either.”

Among the biggest sticking points in the deal have been the Northern Ireland border, and the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

Added to this, has been fighting between so-called Brexiteers and Remainers within May’s own Conservative Party over their vision of Brexit.

Recent months have also seen a string of resignations in the party over May’s Brexit plans — most notably of Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile, the official pro-Brexit campaign group — Vote Leave — was in July fined £61,000 ($81,000) and referred to the police, after the UK’s elections watchdog found it had broken Britain’s strict electoral laws. The ruling prompted some MPs to call for a second referendum, arguing that the initial results were now invalid.