France says the door is still open for the United Kingdom to hold a second Brexit referendum, as a deadlock in London over the matter has raised the prospects of either a second plebiscite or a “no-deal” Brexit.
“The door remains open, but it will be up to them (the Brits) to choose, not us,” said France’s European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau in an interview with French TV station CNews on Thursday.
On June 23, 2016, Britons voted — with a slight majority — for their country to leave the European Union (EU). However, the vote proved to be very divisive, with many still urging the government to consider a second referendum that could allow people to vote for Britain to drop Brexit.
Incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May faces a deadlock in parliament over a deal she has negotiated with the EU. But she has faced tough opposition.
Among those urging Britons to vote in a second referendum is former Prime Minister Tony Blair — a high-profile figure. Early this month, Blair said May’s deal had pleased neither “Brexiteers” nor “Remainers,” adding that a second Brexit referendum should be a choice between remaining and a hard Brexit.
“The only way to resolve this is to have the option remain or leave, but leave on terms that make it clear this is hard Brexit,” he said on December 3.
May is currently under fire in London for delaying a parliamentary vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal that her negotiators hammered out over 17 months.
The main opposition Labour Party has requested a no-confidence vote against the prime minister while pro-EU groups, including the Scottish National Party, seek a motion against the government as a whole.
Neither initiative is likely to come to a vote, meaning that the pullout plan will likely be put before legislators in mid-January.
May survived another confidence vote tabled by members of her own Conservative Party last week but she came out of the process badly bruised, and the Brexit vote could still go against her.
The British prime minister has time and again ruled out a second plebiscite as an option.
Elsewhere in her remarks, Loiseau, the French minister, said that her country was also taking measures to minimize any potential impact if the UK were to exit the EU without a Brexit deal, reiterating previous statements to that effect.
Back in October, French Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin said France was hiring 700 additional customs officers and more border control facilities in case Britain exited the EU without a Brexit deal.