Government aide Huw Merriman MP has been told he is likely to dismissed as a Parliamentary Private Secretary for daring to join the platform at today’s People’s Vote rally in Westminster.
The Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle is the most high-profile supporter of Brexit to have backed growing calls for a confirmatory public vote on the Government’s deal as a way of solving the political crisis and parliamentary deadlock.
Mr Merriman will join leaders from all parties at today’s rally in Westminster where he will declare that any Brexit outcome can only command the confidence of Parliament and the country if it is backed by the British people in a new vote.
Huw Merriman is expected to say:
“This is not only a political crisis but a national emergency. Whether you voted Leave or Remain in 2016, whether you want the Prime Minister’s deal, another deal or no Brexit at all, what is needed now is for MPs to come together in the national interest so we can deliver an outcome.
“I have fiercely opposed a second referendum. But I find myself here on this platform at this critical time for our country, because along with many more MPs on all sides of the House of Commons, I have reluctantly come to accept that the solution to the deadlock in Parliament is to let the people back into this decision.
“A wind of change of is blowing through this debate that can clear the way to a solution. A new vote is the way to deliver the clarity we need. A new vote – whichever way it goes – must be binding on our elected leaders. A new vote is the only way to ensure a lasting settlement for our politicians and for our country too.”
Ahead of Wednesday’s crunch meeting of the European Council, where Theresa May is expected to ask for a longer Brexit deadline, the rally will be peppered with interventions from voters who backed the Leave campaign but now believe another public ballot is necessary.
But Mr Merriman has disclosed that Conservative whips have told him his presence at today’s rally is “likely” to mean he will be sacked from the Government - even though he has already backed the public having the final say in a free vote of MPs last week in Parliament.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s really important to explain how I voted but it’s also important to tell that rally that they don’t just speak for people who want to Remain, they also need to speak for people who support the Prime Minister’s deal and want to leave the EU.
“This is the issue of our times. If I cannot speak freely, it’s absolutely ridiculous. I have to speak freely. It would be nonsensical for me to be given a free vote… but to explain it [means] I would lose my position. What kind of transparent politics is that? It is the politics of the madhouse.”
The People’s Vote rally will also hear from the former Speaker, Baroness Betty Boothroyd; Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo; Conservative MPs Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney-General, and Sam Gyimah, the former Universities Minister; Sir Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats; Labour MPs David Lammy and Anna Turley; Independent Group MP Anna Soubry, the former Business Minister; Ian Blackford and Liz Saville Roberts, the SNP’s and Plaid Cymru’s Leaders in Westminster; as well as Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
They will say there is a growing consensus that an extension must allow for alternative proposals to be properly scrutinised - and not to exclude the prospect of a confirmatory referendum to make sure any deal has the support of the people.