Remainer ministers plotted to oust Theresa May and hold talks with Labour on a second referendum
- Former chief of staff Gavin Barwell said senior figures discussed replacing May
Remainer ministers plotted to oust Theresa May and hold a second referendum on Brexit, it emerged yesterday.
Mrs May’s former chief of staff Gavin Barwell said senior figures had discussed replacing her with her deputy Sir David Lidington to facilitate talks with Labour on a second referendum.
The plot fizzled out, with Sir David saying he had never reached the point of ‘moving against’ the then prime minister.
But the extraordinary plan underlines the desperate attempts made by senior figures at Westminster to thwart the will of the people and prevent Britain leaving the EU.
Details of the secret scheme emerged in a new documentary by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on the fallout from the 2016 vote to leave the EU.
Remainer ministers plotted to oust Theresa May (pictured) and hold a second referendum on Brexit , it emerged yesterday
Mrs May’s former chief of staff Gavin Barwell (pictured) said senior figures had discussed replacing her with her deputy Sir David Lidington to facilitate talks with Labour on a second referendum
Asked about the plot, Lord Barwell said he had ‘never had a conversation’ with Sir David about the details, but added: ‘It is definitely something that some people were talking about as a potential way through.’
Sir David acknowledged that the idea had been floated as a possible way to break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit which had paralysed parliament.
But he insisted he would never have mounted a coup against Mrs May.
READ MORE: Ex-Foreign Office mandarin Lord McDonald admits he openly told colleagues he voted Remain after finding fellow officials ‘in tears’ after the Brexit vote
Asked about the plot to join forces with Labour to force a second referendum, Sir David said: ‘Yes, that was what happened.’
He added: ‘Theresa was not going to go and I never, never made any suggestion to her or any move against, or would have.
‘There weren’t conspiracies – there were increasingly desperate searches for ways to break a deadlock with a deal.’
Sir David was one of the most prominent supporters of EU membership in government. He spent six years as Europe Minister and helped David Cameron negotiate new terms, which were ultimately rejected in the referendum.
Any move to hold a second referendum would have split the Conservative Party and could have toppled the government – and risked allowing Jeremy Corbyn into No 10.
Mrs May’s Cabinet was packed with pro-Remain ministers, some of whom were accused of trying to thwart Brexit.
Former Chancellor Philip Hammond acknowledged that he had pushed for a ‘soft Brexit’.
‘The Treasury was certainly trying to go for a soft Brexit and I don’t think we should apologise for that at all,’ he said.
But prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Treasury’s behaviour under Lord Hammond had been ‘anti-democratic’.
‘The Treasury never wanted to leave and tried to obstruct it,’ he said.
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