No referendum will take place on Brexit deal, Theresa May says

British prime minister says comments from Michael Gove had been misinterpreted

British prime minister Theresa May gives a statement on Brexit in the House of Commons, London. Photograph: PA Wire

British prime minister Theresa May gives a statement on Brexit in the House of Commons, London. Photograph: PA Wire


Theresa May has ruled out a referendum on the final Brexit deal, saying MPs would deliver on the vote to leave the European Union.

The British prime minister also said comments made by environment secretary Michael Gove — who claimed voters would be able to force changes to an EU withdrawal deal at the next election if they did not like it — had been misinterpreted.

Following a statement in the Commons from Ms May on the Brexit negotiations, Labour’s Pat McFadden said: “For phase two of the discussions, the Brexit secretary has set the benchmark as securing the exact same benefits as we currently enjoy through a free trade agreement.

“Does she agree with her own environment secretary and many others that if the public don’t like the terms of the final deal they’ve every right to change their minds?”

Ms May replied: “I have to say that is a misinterpretation of what the environment secretary said at the weekend — I’ve been very clear that there will be no second referendum on this issue.

“This house, this parliament, overwhelmingly voted to give the British people the decision on membership of the European Union.

“The British people voted and we will now deliver on their vote.”

David Davis

Earlier on Monday, Brexit secretary David Davis said Britain’s commitment to maintaining a soft Irish Border after Brexit is “much more than legally enforceable”, insisting his comments to the contrary had been “twisted”.

Mr Davis said the UK would seek to maintain a “frictionless, invisible” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic even if Friday’s agreement to allow trade talks to start collapses in the event of a “no deal” Brexit.

His said on Sunday that the plans were a “statement of intent more than anything else. Much more a statement of intent than it was a legally enforceable thing.”

This was branded “bizarre” by the Irish Government, which insisted an agreement that the UK will have “full alignment” with the EU on issues that impact on Northern Ireland was “binding”.

But Mr Davis claimed on Monday his words had been “completely twisted”.

He told LBC Radio: “What I actually said yesterday in terms was we want to protect the peace process, want to protect Ireland from the impact of Brexit for them, and I said this was a statement of intent which was much more than just legally enforceable.

“Of course it’s legally enforceable under the withdrawal agreement but even if that didn’t happen for some reason, if something went wrong, we would still be seeking to provide a frictionless invisible border with Ireland.”