A mixture of Tory, DUP and Labour MPs are acting to try to spike the guns of the People’s Vote campaign before its MP supporters are ready to act.
The move comes as suspicions mount that the only way Parliament will be able to solve its Brexit deadlock is by ordering a re-run of the 2016 nationwide poll.
The Leave-baking MPs, lead by the hardline Tory European Research Group, last night tabled an amendment that branded a second referendum “divisive and expensive”.
It also demands: “The result of the 2016 EU Referendum should be respected”.
By this evening, the Brexiteers already had 50 signatures from MPs for the amendment.
They included two prominent Labour MPs, former Cabinet minister Caroline Flint and Gareth Snell.
The ERG still face a battle to persuade Speaker John Bercow to call the amendment so it can be voted on tomorrow.
One senior MP who signed it was former farming minister George Eustice, who resigned from the Government over a Brexit delay last week.
Mr Eustice told The Sun: “There is no point having a second referendum if Parliament lacks the integrity to honour the result of the first.
“Politicians must not make people vote again just because they didn’t like answer.
“This amendment gives MPs the chance to make clear that they will respect the 2016 referendum.”
The bid comes as it emerged Czech PM Andrej Babis told Theresa May to call a second referendum and back a Remain vote to “solve” Brexit.
The Eastern European leader made the remarks during a phone call with the PM on Saturday as she rallied leaders’ support for her doomed backstop compromise.
In an unusual breach of diplomatic protocol, Mr Babis disclosed on Twitter: “On Saturday I talked on the phone with the British Prime Minister Theresa May. We solved Brexit.
“I told her that the best solution would be for the UK to remain in the EU. That is why I believe it is worth calling a new referendum.
“She refused, but I still don’t think it’s impossible.”
It also emerged that Jeremy Corbyn has watered down Labour’s support for a second referendum after saying his party no longer backs one on Mrs May’s deal.
His spokesman said Tuesday’s Commons defeat meant it was no longer a “credible” option to put to a referendum.
Amid further confusion over Labour’s position on a second referendum the spokesman said Labour would only back a referendum that had gained the backing of the Commons.
And Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said backing one “depends on discussion across the House”.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said she “suspects” Labour will back a second referendum next week but added: “I don’t know for sure because… I don’t even know what’s going to happen today.”
Mr Corbyn’s spokesman also said Labour back an extension that is “short enough not to be an issue” for the European elections in late May.
The spokesman backed Philip Hammond’s comments calling for the Commons to “build a compromise” on Brexit – saying: “Of course we welcome anybody who recognise that we need to reach out and find a compromise and a deal that would seek a close economic relationship with the EU.
Mr Corbyn would welcome another meeting with the PM but No10 hasn’t offered one as of yet.
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