LONDON — Conservative member of parliament Sam Gyimah is set declare his support for a second referendum on Brexit (also called a “People’s Vote”) after quitting Theresa May’s government on Friday evening, multiple sources have told Business Insider.
Gyimah quit as universities and science minister on Friday in protest of the prime minister’s Brexit deal with Brussels, branding the Withdrawal Agreement “naive,” “EU first,” and “not in the British national interest.”
“Britain will end up worse off, transformed from rule makers into rule takers. It is a democratic deficit and a loss of sovereignty,” Gyimah said, after becoming the seventh minister to resign over the divorce deal.
Gyimah is set to follow ex-transport minister Jo Johnson in backing the campaign for a “People’s Vote,” a referendum on the outcome of negotiations, according to multiple senior anti-Brexit campaigners.
Earlier this month, a senior source in the People’s Vote campaign told Business Insider that up to three conservative MPs would declare support for another referendum in November, with Johnson being the first.
In a statement published on Friday, the MP for East Surrey hinted at support for another referendum.
“We shouldn’t dismiss out of hand the idea of asking the people again what future they want, as we all now have a better understanding of the potential paths before us,” he wrote.
BI understands that he will soon publicly declare his support for another Brexit referendum, piling more pressure on May as she faces the prospect of a landslide defeat in the parliamentary vote on her deal next week.
Gyimah — who was first elected to Parliament in 2010 — offered a scathing assessment of the deal May has negotiated with the EU in his statement. In it, he said the UK “will end up worse off, transformed from rule makers into rule takers” and be left with “a democratic deficit and a loss of sovereignty the public will rightly never accept.”
The outgoing minister also accused May of ruling out red lines “that need to be considered seriously,” such as extending the Article 50 negotiating process, as well as holding another referendum.
Justine Greening — ex-education secretary and People’s Vote supporter — said her colleague’s decision reiterated the “huge shortcomings” of May’s deal and “the need to find an alternative path forward for Britain.”
“His comments on the second referendum simply reflect the real choice confronting many MPs. He recognises trusting the people may be, in the end, the only way to break the gridlock in Parliament,” she said.
Alex Sobel MP, a member of pro-second-referendum group Best for Britain, subsequently confirmed Gyimah’s support. In an emailed statement, he said: “I look forward to Sam Gyimah joining the campaign for a vote on the final Brexit deal. We have the momentum in our campaign. “If Theresa May cannot persuade her own ministers in her deal she can’t really believe that she has a chance when it comes before Parliament. The Government must now extend the article 50 process and present something to Parliament that we can vote for. If she can’t do that then she must make way for a Government who can or go back to the British people and let them decide.”