Senior Labour MP warns of ‘civil disobedience’ if a second Brexit referendum is held

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Another Brexit referendum risks ‘civil disobedience’, according to Labour’s Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner (Rex)

A second Brexit vote could cause civil disobedience and social disruption, a shadow cabinet minister has warned.

Barry Gardiner suggested people could turn to ‘more socially-disruptive ways of expressing their views’ if they feel they have been denied achieving change through democratic means, adding that the extreme right would be aided by such a situation.

Pro-EU campaigners are seeking a second vote on the terms of the final Brexit deal between the UK and EU.

However, shadow international trade secretary Mr Gardiner said Remain and Leave campaigners informed people that voting in the 2016 EU referendum would determine the UK’s future for the next 40 or 50 years.

He added to BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘We meant it.

‘If we then go back on that, yes, it may well be – and I certainly believe – that we will in the short and medium term be worse off economically as a result of Brexit, and certainly the way the Government is going that is what is happening.

‘It’s not about happily putting us in that position, it’s saying there’s more to this than simple economics.

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‘There is also the social, the democratic principles at play here.

‘If you then say to people ‘We did give you a vote and actually we, the Remainers, lost the vote, but because you were stupid enough to do what you wanted rather than what we wanted…’ and what those people who want a second referendum are now saying, ‘Well, because you voted in the wrong way, we’ll give you another chance to get it right’ – that undermines the whole principle of democracy in this country.

‘You never give as much succour to the extreme right as when you cut off the mechanism of democratic change.

Remainers want a second vote on the terms of the Brexit deal (Rex)

‘If people want to be able to achieve change through democratic means, if they feel that that is being denied to them, they then turn to other more socially disruptive ways of expressing their views, and that is the danger here.’

Pressed on what would happen if there was a second EU referendum, Mr Gardiner replied: ‘I didn’t say violence on the streets.

‘What I’m saying is that in any situation, if people feel that the route to change is no longer a democratic route, then you look to social disruption, perhaps civil disobedience, in a different way.

Theresa May has insisted Brexit means Brexit but her Chequers proposals have faced fierce criticism from Leavers (Rex)

‘This is playing with our democracy – it’s playing with the foundations of our country in a way that is really, really damaging.

‘We have to respect people’s vote in that referendum. We told them we would, we must do it.’

Mr Gardiner, earlier asked if it was Labour’s policy that under no circumstances could there be no Brexit deal, said: ‘Absolutely. That is why we have proposed a new customs union and a strong new relationship with the single market.’

Mr Gardiner said it was ‘nonsense’ to suggest such a stance put all the power in the hands of the EU negotiators, adding: ‘No deal is not in their interests either – they want a deal with us.’

Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw blasted Mr Gardiner’s comments.

He wrote on Twitter: ‘I’m afraid Barry Gardiner in defending #Brexit whatever the cost on @BBCr4today on democratic grounds completely ignores the democratic right of the people to change their minds #BrexitShambles #PeoplesVote.’

Theresa May insisted ‘Brexit means Brexit’ when she became Prime Minister but she has been accused of watering down the UK’s divorce from the EU in her much-maligned Chequers proposals.