The chances of a second referendum on membership of the European Union could greatly increase if a reported plot by MPs to take control of the Brexit agenda is successful, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has said.
However the 75-year-old challenged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to ‘change the game’ by firmly backing a People’s Vote.
The Sunday Times is reporting that a cross-party group of MPs are trying to change House of Commons rules to enable backbench motions to take precedence over government business if prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal fails next week, as it is expected to do.
That would give MPs, rather than government ministers, control over parliamentary business.
MORE: The Lib Dems – the party always on the right side of EU historyThe move has been criticised by some, saying it is a conspiracy that not only threatens the government’s Brexit plan but also Downing Street’s ability to govern on other matters.
Sir Vince told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the plot was ‘not a conspiracy’ but was ‘clearly happening’ because there is no support for the prime minister’s deal, or a no deal scenario.
‘It’s exactly what will happen and it’s exactly what we should be doing,’ Sir Vince said of the plot by MPs.
‘It would be absolutely outrageous and unforgiveable if the chaotic circumstances of a no deal were allowed to happen. We can’t just allow it to happen by accident
‘I think parliament will take control of this process and will insist we pursue the option of no Brexit.
‘It can happen in one of two ways. It can happen by simply cancelling Article 50, which I think would resented by a lot of people – or it can happen by parliament going back to the people and saying we will give the people a say through a People’s Vote.
‘I think that is now much more likely.’
However he added: ‘We do believe Jeremy Corbyn he should come off the fence. He has played an ambiguous role on Brexit.
‘He now has a key role where he could potentially change the game by coming firmly behind the idea a People’s Vote. That’s what most of his supporters and MPs want.’
Sir Vince has said he will lead the Liberal Democrats through Brexit, including any possible general election called in the fallout from it – but step down once it is ‘resolved or stopped’.
MORE: Vince Cable to step down as Liberal Democrat leader ‘once Brexit is resolved or stopped’Jo Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, is the firm favourite to become the next leader of the Lib Dems.