Theresa May rules out second Brexit referendum, promising 'success'

The UK cabinet is meeting at the prime minister's official country retreat

Theresa May rules out second Brexit referendum, promising 'success'

Theresa May holds a cabinet meeting at the British prime minister's country retreat Chequers in Buckinghamshire | image: Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The British Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out a second referendum on Britain's withdrawal from the EU, and insisted that the country will make a success of Brexit.

She made the comments at a special Cabinet meeting at Chequers, as she met her ministers for the first time since their summer break.

Mrs May is likely to use the meeting to attempt to resolve a bitter split between senior Cabinet ministers over the deal Britain wants to leave the European Union.

It has been claimed she intends to "bang a few heads together" to halt feuding between the so-called "Three Brexiteers": Liam Fox, David Davis and Boris Johnson.

UK Chancellor Philip Hammond is also at odds with Dr Fox and Mr Davis because he wants the government to try to retain its membership of Europe's single market after Brexit.

The get-together, already dubbed a "back to school" Cabinet meeting, is the first to be held by Mrs may at her official country retreat in Buckinghamshire.

A full Cabinet meeting started at 10.30am attended by senior Whitehall officials. After lunch, a "political cabinet" without civil servants is set to commence.

This session will be dominated by planning for the Tory conference in Birmingham, the first under Mrs May's leadership, with new party chairman Patrick McLoughlin unveiling his proposals.

Brexit options

At the morning meeting, according to Downing Street insiders, Brexit was due to be "top of the In tray" and each minister has been ordered to outline how they will "make the most of Brexit" in their own department.

Civil servants have been asked to assess the impact of a wide range of Brexit scenarios, from full membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) to a system under which some Europeans would need visas just to enjoy a holiday in Britain.

It is claimed some officials at the UK Foreign Office are pushing for "as much Europe as possible" while others in the Home Office are reluctant to consider full EEA membership or single market access because their priority is an immigration clampdown.

On the eve of the meeting, Downing Street said Mrs May had ruled out holding a second referendum on the Brexit deal with the European Union - and stamped down on speculation that she could hold a general election before 2020.

"The Prime Minister is very clear there will be no second referendum," said a Number 10 spokesman. "There is no need for a general election either."

The spokesman also effectively ruled out the prospect of MPs being given a vote on the Brexit deal or the timing of Article 50, which is the formal trigger for the two-year exit negotiations to begin.

He said parliament "will have a say on the situation going forward" - killing any suggestion that pro-EU MPs may be able to veto Brexit in the House of Commons.

"Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of the referendum in the first place," the spokesman added.