A Conservative MP who resigned from a ministerial post last year in protest at Theresa May’s controversial Brexit deal was in Gibraltar yesterday with a clear message for the UK: “Think again.”
Sam Gyimah, who quit as Minister for Universities and Science last November, believes the way forward on Brexit is to have another referendum.
“It is a way to accommodate everyone in terms of the different views and we know a lot more about our terms of departure now than we did at the time of the referendum,” he said.
Mr Gyimah was speaking to the Chronicle after meeting with the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia at Number six Convent Place.
He was accompanied by the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for Gibraltar, Conservative MP Bob Neill.
This weekend he became the 13th MP to throw their hat into the race to replace Theresa May as party leader.
The Remain supporter announced his intention to run on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, telling the programme he wanted to “broaden the race”.
He said: “I will be joining the contest to be the next Conservative leader and prime minister to broaden the race.”
“There is a wide range of candidates out there but there is a very narrow set of views on Brexit being discussed.”
“And over the last few weeks I have watched on discussing with colleagues in frustration that while there’s a broad sweep of opinion in the country on how we move forward at this critical time that is not being reflected in the contest at the moment.”
Speaking in Gibraltar last Friday, Mr Gyimah said resigned his previous post because he could not back the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Mrs May.
“I do not think it was in the national interest, it was ultimately going to make us poorer and a lot of the future was uncertain,” he said.
Since his resignation, he has been campaigning with other members of the Conservative Party for the UK to “think again”.
And he dismissed any suggestion that a second referendum was undemocratic.
“I think you do not go against democracy by having more democracy,” he said.
“Having another view on where people stand actually helps strengthen the democratic decision to leave the EU.”
“As it stands, Parliament is deadlocked and there is no deal that will get through the current Parliament.”
“So there are only two options we have: one is a general election and the other is a second referendum.”
“Looking at the European elections, none of the two major parties want to risk a general election before we have a resolution to this.”
“I think it is the logical position that we actually go back to the people which we need to do in the form of a second referendum,” he added.
He was on the Rock so he could understand how a no deal Brexit might impact Gibraltar.
Giving a synopsis of his meeting with Mr Picardo and Dr Garcia, he said they had a wide ranging discussion on Brexit.
In particular, they discussed the impact of a no deal Brexit on the border and how it would affect the lives of people and security cooperation.
“I think it is important for those of us in Westminster Parliament to understand that our decisions affect other people in the wider family of nations in the UK,” he said.
“It is a key concern. I am here with Bob Neill and he is doing a lot of work on this issue and we know that there are a lot of our MPs that are committed to Gibraltar.”
“But what we are trying to get them to understand is to link their commitment to Gibraltar to their position on Brexit,” he added.
Mr Gyimah believes a no deal Brexit is possible, but that it must be avoided.
“It can be avoided and Parliament has voted several times against a no deal and obviously there is going to be a new leader and a new Prime Minister,” he said.
“The UK should not be leaving the EU without a deal.”
“It is not something that any responsible Government should be imposing on its people.”