Friday, June 21

Second EU referendum would be legal, former attorney general says



Dominic Grieve A second EU referendum could be justified if it becomes clear public opinion has shifted strongly against Brexit, the former attorney general has said.

Dominic Grieve, a Conservative MP who was the Government’s chief legal advisor until 2014, said the result of the first referendum had to be “treated with respect” but that it was not necessarily set in stone.

In correspondence seen and verified by The Independent Mr Grieve tells a constituent that the result of the first referendum cannot be ignored, but that a second plebiscite could become democratically justifiable.

“We have to accept … that the referendum result represents, at the time it was held, a clear statement of a majority view that we should leave the EU,” he wrote. “In a democracy such a result cannot just be ignored. The Government and Parliament must treat it with respect. It is of course possible that it will become apparent with the passage of time that public opinion has shifted on the matter. If so a second referendum may be justified.”

Mr Grieve also rebuffed suggestions that supporters of the EU should not speak out against the result – arguing that in a free society people should be able to dispute the majority view. He said he remained supportive of people campaigning against Brexit, having been “deeply troubled” by the outcome of the vote.

“I have no doubt that the petition in which you are participating and other forms of campaigning which are now taking place may contribute to further debate in a positive way and I would encourage you not to give up!” he wrote.

“There is in a free society no requirement on us to change our opinions just because a current majority disagrees with them. Mine remain the same and I will continue to argue for what I believe to be right and in our best interests.”

Mr Grieve confirmed to The Independent that the correspondence was genuine.