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Former Labour minister David Miliband today demanded a second vote on whether Britain should leave the European Union.
The ex-foreign secretary said Brexit was an “unparalleled act of self-harm” and risked being a “stitch-up” if people were not given another say on the terms of the UK’s exit from the bloc.
In a dramatic intervention, he insisted “democracy did not end” on the date of the EU referendum last year and said MPs or the public should be given a straight vote between EU membership and the alternative thrashed out in negotiations.
“The case against the EU depends on avoiding a discussion of the alternative,” he wrote in the Observer.
“It is the equivalent of voting to repeal Obamacare without knowing the replacement. It is a stitch-up.
“That is one reason it is essential that parliament or the public are given the chance to have a straight vote between EU membership and the negotiated alternative. That is a democratic demand, not just a prudent one.
“People say we must respect the referendum. We should. But democracy did not end on 23 June 2016.
“The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff.”
Mr Miliband, now president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee in New York, urged politicians of all stripes to fight against the “worst consequences” of Brexit, and praised Tory chancellor Philip Hammond, whose demands for a transitional deal have sparked rifts in the Cabinet.
“I never thought I would say this, but Philip Hammond is also playing an important, even valiant, role,” he wrote.
Mr Miliband’s comments came as Mr Hammond and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox came together in a show of unity to declare that a post-Brexit transition would not be a “back door” to Britain remaining in the EU.
After a summer of cabinet feuding, Mr Hammond, who favours a “softer” pro-business Brexit, and Dr Fox, a hardline Brexiteer, said that they agreed there should not be “cliff-edge” break when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
But in a joint article for The Sunday Telegraph, they agreed that any transition would be “time limited” and that Brexit would mean the UK pulling out of both the EU single market and the customs union.
“We want our economy to remain strong and vibrant through this period of change. That means businesses need to have confidence that there will not be a cliff-edge when we leave the EU in just over 20 months’ time,” they wrote.
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