The Mayor of London has thrown his weight behind a second EU referendum, taking aim at the government’s Brexit negotiations for leaving the British public facing the option of a bad deal or no deal at all.
Sadiq Khan – who advocated against a second vote in the wake of the 2016 referendum – told Andrew Marr on Sunday that the British public must be allowed to have a say in the outcome of Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations, “plus the option of staying in the EU”.
“We have now reached a position where there are two outcomes as a consequence of the government’s negotiations,” the Labour politician said.
“A bad deal – and by that I include leaving the EU without knowing the terms of the future relationship, a blindfold Brexit, – or no deal.”
According to Khan, crashing out of the European Union without a deal would lead to the loss of half a million jobs and £50 billion less investment in the country.
“People didn’t vote to leave the EU to make themselves poorer, to watch their businesses suffer, to have NHS wards understaffed, to see the police preparing for civil unrest or for our national security to be put at risk if our cooperation with the EU in the fight against terrorism is weakened,” he wrote in Sunday’s Observer.
Khan denied claims he had called for the vote in order to distract from his record as London mayor, saying a record number of homes had been started in the capital last year.
But he faced criticism from Environment Secretary Michael Gove who said that it was “interesting and troubling that he [Khan] wants to frustrate the vote we had in 2016”.
But Gove himself offered a strong hint that he wants May’s Chequers Brexit proposal – which has been criticised by hardline Brexiteers for being too soft – to be revisited and made tougher after Britain leaves the EU.
Asked whether the Chequers proposal is permanent, he told Marr it is the right approach “for now”.
“A future Prime Minister could always choose to alter the relationship between Britain and the European Union,” he responded.
Meanwhile, Khan also faced criticism from his own party, with shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner saying a second referendum would “throw this government a lifeline”.
“If this government cannot do what it is supposed to do and govern, then we need actually to change the government,” the Labour MP said.