David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister and May’s de facto deputy, and Gavin Barwell, May’s chief of staff, have discussed holding a second referendum with both Labour MPs and other Cabinet ministers, the Sunday Times reported. The Guardian also said that other Conservative lawmakers were urging the embattled prime minister to offer MPs a so-called “free vote” on holding another plebiscite, or the right for politicians to vote how they believed rather than along party lines.
The reports, although unconfirmed, will ratchet up pressure on May, who has so far failed to garner meaningful concessions from other European Union leaders over changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. The U.K. leader adamantly opposes a second Brexit referendum, but the British media reports suggest that she could be willing to entertain that possibility if she cannot secure a majority for her proposals in the British parliament.
In a statement to the Sunday Times, May said those seeking a second referendum were hoping to “subvert the process for their own political interests.”