UK Politics

Tim Farron presses case for vote on any Brexit deal

Tim Farron Image copyright PA

The British public should have a chance to vote on government plans for the UK to leave the EU, the Lib Dems say.

Leader Tim Farron, whose party campaigned to stay in the EU, says it would be "completely unfair" if voters were not given a say on the deal devised by Brexit ministers.

He denied suggestions he was trying to overturn the 23 June referendum, when a majority backed the UK leaving the EU.

Brexit Secretary David Davis wants a "national consensus" for the UK's exit.

But Mr Farron says voting for Britain's departure from the EU "is not the same as voting for a destination".

"What the British government is now, one assumes, in the process of doing... is putting together the potential deal for what Britain will get in the future - what will free movement look like? Will there be a points based system? Apparently not. Will there be additional money for our health service? Apparently not. What will the relationship be with the single market? What will that mean for pricing?

"Our proposal today is the deal would come to the British people - we'd vote on that. If we voted 'yes' for that deal, then Britain would leave the European Union as we've already indicated... If we voted 'no' to that deal - if that's not satisfactory to the British people - we'd remain members of the EU."

Image caption The Brexit negotiations could be among the most complicated in history, David Davis told MPs earlier this week

Mr Farron told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that despite being opposed to the UK leaving the EU, he remained a critic of the institution and continued to campaign for it to be reformed.

He insisted that he "respected" the referendum result and did not want to see "a re-run" of the vote - just an opportunity for the people to decide on any deal put forward by the government over Britain's departure.

The 23 June referendum resulted in 52% of people voting for Britain to leave the EU and 48% voting for it to remain.

"None of us voted for whatever it is that we might get from the deal that is arranged or negotiated by David Davis and co," said Mr Farron.

Referring to Theresa May, who succeeded David Cameron as prime minister after he quit over the result, Mr Farron added: "It seems completely wrong for an unelected prime minister to enforce a deal on the British people that neither the 52%, nor the 48% voted for.

"You might be somebody who voted wanting there to be a points' based [immigration] system. What are you going to do if the government forces something on you that doesn't address that? Likewise on tariffs, likewise on a whole range of issues.

"It would be totally wrong, however you voted on 23 June, for this government to enforce on the British people a plan that nobody signed up to - that would undermine democracy massively."

Earlier this week, Mr Davis told MPs in his first Commons statement as Brexit secretary that the UK's departure would be triggered "as expeditiously as possible".

Flanked by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox - who both campaigned for Brexit - he insisted there would be no attempt to "delay, frustrate or thwart" the result.

But opposition MPs accused him of "waffle" and lacking detailed proposals.

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