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Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins calls for second referendum

Damian Collins has become the first Tory MP in the county to call for a second referendum or general election, saying he would rather either outcome than watching Britain walk off “the cliff edge” with a no-deal Brexit.

The prominent Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe added he would not back Theresa May’s proposed deal for how Britain could leave the EU as it stands.

His concerns surround the transition period after Brexit in March next year, saying "we have to have the right as an independent country to decide when we want to exit" in an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Damian Collins MP
Damian Collins MP

Instead, he wants a clause inserted allowing Britain to give the EU notice of its intention to leave the transition arrangements.

Asked what should be done if the EU did not agree to this proposal, he said: “If we couldn’t get an agreement and we were basically stuck in a situation where there's a deal we don’t want, or the cliff edge, I don’t think as parliament we could just stand back and watch the country fall off the edge of a cliff without asking the people if that was the step they wanted to take."

Ashed if this meant a second referendum, he said: “Some mechanism of consulting the people, be it a general election or a second referendum.”

Mr Collins, who is chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, added he would vote down Mrs May’s current deal in the House of Commons.

He added: “I don’t accept that this is a deal we have to accept or face the cliff-edge.

“We would be in this deal in a situation, I believe, worse than the one we are in now and something no-one voted for, where we would be bound to abide by all the European rules and locked into a system we can’t independently leave.”

Mr Collins, who backed staying in the EU, added in a tweet this morning that he would like to see parliament approve a new deal where “we have the power to independently exit the backstop and transition period after March 2019".

Mr Collins has voted with the government in support of delivering Brexit at every vote in the Commons since the referendum.

The only Labour MP in the county, Rosie Duffield, was the first to call for a second referendum.

Earlier this month she said: "I’d love a People’s Vote and so would my constituents. People that actually did vote to leave - actually nearly all of them who went for the back of the bus deal have almost all changed their mind. I think it is really important they have their say.

"If they haven’t [changed their minds] then so what?"

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