Tory leadership contest's only Remainer calls no-deal Brexit an 'abject failure'

PUBLISHED: 12:18 07 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:39 09 June 2019

Conservative leadership hopeful Sam Gyimah is calling for a second referendum if a deal cannot be agreed in parliament. Picture: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Conservative leadership hopeful Sam Gyimah is calling for a second referendum if a deal cannot be agreed in parliament. Picture: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

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Conservative leadership candidate Sam Gyimah has called a no-deal Brexit an "abject failure", outlining how he'd bring a second referendum if a deal can't be agreed in parliament.

The former minister and MP for East Surrey said the new prime minister should be given a "final chance to succeed where Theresa May failed" at getting a deal through.

But failing that, he would get the ball rolling on the process of a second referendum - with the options of a no-deal Brexit, a revised deal or staying in the European Union.

"A no-deal Brexit is an abject failure and it is not supported by 70% of the electorate," he told Channel 4 News.

He has said that without a public vote on the matter, a no-deal Brexit would be a "cowardly abdication of responsibility" and would be "running away from the most difficult issues".

While rivals such as Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab have pledged to leave the EU on October 31 even without a deal, Gyimah said he would seek an extension to the deadline to allow a referendum to be held.

"However, this cannot be an open-ended process, with multiple requested extensions of Article 50," he added, saying this would further undermine public trust.

"The world won't wait for Westminster, no matter how loudly we shout, and no matter how damaging a prolonged Brexit process is for Britain," he said.

"That is why I propose that a Plan B runs in parallel with any renegotiations, so as to limit the amount of time that can be spent on these negotiations, to reassure our European colleagues that we have a credible, definitive and deliverable way forward."

The contenders in the Conservative leadership race (top row, left to right) former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, (bottom row, left to right) former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, former House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Sam Gyimah, who are trying to replace Prime Minister Theresa May.  Photograph: PA.The contenders in the Conservative leadership race (top row, left to right) former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, (bottom row, left to right) former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, former House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Sam Gyimah, who are trying to replace Prime Minister Theresa May. Photograph: PA.

On entering a crowded race as an outsider, Gyimah told Channel 4 News that he had joined the throng because "there is a very narrow range of views".

READ: Sam Gyimah enters Tory leadership race to represent the Remain cause

"If we are going to have this debate in the interest of the country, then it's got to be the widest possible debate, it's got to be honest about the choices we face, and it's got to be robust."

Gyimah resigned as a minister in 2018 over Theresa May's Brexit deal, saying it was a deal "in name only" and left far too much unresolved.

Early in 2019, he co-founded the pro-second referendum group Right To Vote, which includes Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston, and Anna Soubry, all of whom would a month later defect from the Tories to co-form the Independent Group/Change UK.

Outside his Brexit stance, the MP has pledged to cut taxes for middle and high income earners as well as a reform of business rates.

His reforms have been described as "Thatcherite" by City AM, who reported that he would exempt all business investment from taxation, scrap stamp duty on homes worth less than a million, and to allow those earning £100K or more to keep the tax allowance on the first £12,500 they are paid.

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