We've had a second Brexit poll - so why not third?

European Council president Donald Tusk says critics of a new Brexit referendum are being inconsistent because they did not oppose a “second referendum” in 2016 – after the first one in 1975.

Speaking in a European Parliament debate to British Eurosceptic Nigel Farage, he said Mr Farage had “presented passionate arguments against a second referendum but the truth is that the second referendum took place in 2016 because the first one took place in 1975, and then the vast majority of the British public decided that the place of the UK was in the European Economic Community.”

Mr Tusk, who chairs the summits of EU leaders who decide the course of Brexit, added: “No, it was you who thought three years ago that it was possible to organise a referendum to invalidate the previous one. Then please be consistent today.”

Mr Tusk also criticised those who are against a possible long delay to Brexit in the case that the negotiated deal is definitively rejected by the MPs this week.

He said he is open to this option so the UK can rethink its strategy, which would require the country to take part in the European elections again in May, but some people had said this would be harmful and inconvenient to them. However he said “such thinking is unacceptable”.

He said: “You cannot betray the six million people who signed the petition to revoke article 50, the 1 million people who marched for a People’s Vote, or the increasing majority of people who want to remain in the European Union.

"They may feel that they are not sufficiently represented by the UK parliament, but they must feel that they are represented by you in this chamber. Because they are Europeans.”

However Mr Farage responded that if a second referendum was held it would result in an even larger vote to leave.

Yesterday the UK government responded to the petition to revoke article 50, saying it had ruled this out. 

Today the British MPs are set to cast ‘indicative votes’ in a bid to clarify what support there is for different Brexit outcomes. If there is no final vote of support for the negotiated deal this week, the EU has said the UK must present another way forward or fall out of the EU with no deal on April 12.

Also speaking before the EU Parliament today was European Commission present Jean-Claude Juncker who stated that last week’s summit had notably included talk of the EU’s relations with China, as well as discussions of Brexit, and the latter had been far more complicated.

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