Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hammond: Go Back to the People If Parliament Fails to Decide

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hammond: Go Back to the People If Parliament Fails to Decide

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor

PHILIP HAMMOND today became the most senior Cabinet figure yet to indicate that a second referendum may be needed to break the logjam on Brexit.

The Chancellor said the issue would have to be "remitted back to the people" if Parliament continued to fail to come a decision on how to leave the EU.

He said he did not believe a general election would be capable of resolving the impasse because neither of the two biggest parties had a clear position.

This was cheered by People's Vote supporters, who claimed the tide was turning towards a second referendum. It came after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would support a referendum on any Brexit deal if Labour could not trigger a general election.

Several other Cabinet ministers say privately they think the case for a referendum will "grow" if Parliament cannot pass any Brexit agreement with a clear majority. Every deal put to MPs was rejected, including no-deal and a Norway-style arrangement involving close economic ties with the EU.

Mr Hammond told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it would be "a stain on Parliament's reputation" if MPs proved incapable of resolving the political deadlock and honouring the mandate of the 2016 referendum, adding: "If we do get to the point where Parliament does admit that it cannot resolve the situation, then it will have to be remitted back to the people.

"I am not sure that a general election can resolve the question for the simple reason that both the main political parties are divided on the issues. This is a division that runs not between the parties, but through the parties.

"We need a period of calm now before contemplating the possibility of a general election. My strong preference is for Parliament to resolve this but if it can't, then Parliament will have to decide how we remit it back to the peo-ple, whether it is in the form of a general election, or a referendum. …

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