Referendum on EU deal is “not a dead duck” and could still happen, says Vince Cable

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Posted by Geoff Bishop.

Written by Michael Settle.

SIR Vince Cable has insisted a referendum on the Brexit deal is “not a dead duck” as he accused Jeremy Corbyn of colluding with the Tories to complete Britain’s divorce from the EU.

And the Liberal Democrat leader admitted it was not certain, at this stage, that if the final Brexit deal were rejected that his party would campaign for the UK to rejoin the Brussels bloc.

In the event that MPs voted down any final deal with the EU, party sources have suggested a multiple question in a second poll would be offered to voters: renegotiating the rejected deal; coming out of the EU altogether on World Trade Organisation rules or staying in.

Sir Vince insisted his party was “winning the argument” on EUref2 and that the Lib Dems were “in the right place” on Brexit and were trying to persuade the Labour leadership to join them in fighting for voters to have the final say on the withdrawal deal.

When it was pointed out another vote was a “dead duck” because the Labour leadership was opposed to it as well as the Conservatives, the Lib Dem leader replied: “No. Jeremy Corbyn is crucial to this. It is clear the vast majority of his MPs and his party and his supporters are very concerned about the fact that he hasn’t opposed Brexit.

“He has effectively worked in collusion with Theresa May and her Government to enable Brexit to happen. There is a simmering anger about that.

“As we get through this year and we get closer to the final decision, and it becomes clear that we are going to get a very bad deal from these negotiations, he will be under enormous pressure to support a referendum on the final deal.

“The Labour Party will come round to it as will a significant number of dissident Conservatives,” he argued.

Sir Vince said he believed that Brexit could still be stopped. “I don’t accept that it is inevitable. The probability is that it will happen but there is a significant possibility that it won’t it,” said the London MP.

Asked if Brexit did happen, would his party campaign for Britain to return to the EU fold, the Lib Dem leader said: “Returning to the EU once Britain has left, if we did leave, would be much more difficult than staying in…Not necessarily, no. There is a whole set of additional hurdles that you would have to cross if you wanted to rejoin. We would have to rethink the position at that stage.

“But, as I say, it is not inevitable. There is quite a high possibility this whole extremely damaging process can be stopped.”