(CNN)British Prime Minister Theresa May will firmly reject a second Brexit referendum in an address to Parliament Monday, as pressure for a new vote grows both inside and outside a bitterly divided Westminster.
As members of her Cabinet break ranks with competing plans on how to deal with the political deadlock, May will claim to MPs in the House of Commons that a second referendum would undermine faith in UK politics.
“Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum,” May will say, according to remarks released in advance by Downing Street.
“Another vote… would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics, because it would say to millions who trusted in democracy that our democracy does not deliver.”
May will update on Brexit negotiations after reports that senior figures in her Conservative Party are laying the groundwork for another referendum, believing it is the only way to break the impasse.
The Prime Minister abruptly called off a vote on her Brexit plan last week, after it became clear it would be defeated. She was then forced to fend off a leadership challenge from rebellious Tory MPs. The challenge failed, but left her weakened politically. At a European Union summit in in Brussels, May failed to secure guarantees that would satisfy her rebels.
Over the weekend, the Sunday Times reported that two of May’s allies — Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and her Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell — were preparing for a second referendum as “the only way forward.”
Lidington is part of a group of senior ministers — Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark — who believe a new referendum is the only way to break the parliamentary gridlock, the newspaper said.
Both men distanced themselves from the report on Twitter.
In her remarks to Parliament, May will echo concerns voiced by other critics of a second referendum, both on the left and right, that a new vote would not solve divisions. “Another vote … would further divide our country at the very moment we should be working to unite it,” she will say.
Months ago, a second Brexit referendum was widely seen as improbable, a last-ditch attempt by bitter Remain voters to undo a result they didn’t like.
But support for a new poll — and pressure from influential sections of the media and politics — has been growing, especially as it has become increasingly clear the parliamentary math does not favor May’s Brexit bill.
With Brexit due to take place on March 29, such an impasse increases the possibility of a “no deal” exit, which could crater the UK economy and even lead to fuel and food shortages, according to to predictions.
One complication for supporters of a new referendum is that would require an extension of the Article 50 process — the legal mechanism by which the UK is leaving the EU. That process requires the UK to leave the EU on March 29, whether a withdrawal deal is in place or not. It can only be extended if Britain requests it, and the remaining 27 EU nations agree.
The opposition Labour Party favors a general election to break the deadlock — although that could also require an extension of the Article 50 process. Labour has repeatedly threatened to call a vote of no confidence in May’s government should her Brexit bill be defeated or further delayed, a move that could pave the way to a new election.
Should his party fail in its efforts to secure an election, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has committed to “all options,” including a second referendum.
Corbyn has however been reluctant to wholeheartedly endorse calls for another referendum, fearful that it would cost the party support in areas of the country that voted in favor of Brexit.
The Liberal Democrats — a minor opposition party previously in a coalition government with May’s predecessor David Cameron — have come out in favor of a new vote, but this has not translated into much of an increase in support.
On the right of the Labour Party however, some pro-European figures have voiced strong support for a new vote. They include former leader Tony Blair, a long-time critic of Corbyn and a hugely divisive figure for Labour voters.
“It is perfectly clear neither the British people nor their Parliament will unite behind the Prime Minister’s deal. That is why the government decided not to proceed with the vote,” Blair said Sunday.
“In these circumstances it is not irresponsible or insulting to put forward an alternative way to achieve resolution … If (Parliament) can’t reach agreement then the logical thing is to go back to the people.”