Civil disobedience and social disruption could emerge if a second EU referendum is held, a shadow cabinet minister has suggested.
Barry Gardiner warned people could turn to “more socially-disruptive ways of expressing their views” if they feel they have been denied achieving change through democratic means, also saying the extreme right would be aided by such a situation.
Pro-EU campaigners are seeking a second vote on the terms of the final Brexit deal between the UK and EU.
Shadow international trade secretary Mr Gardiner, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, said Remain and Leave campaigners informed people that voting in the 2016 EU referendum would determine the UK’s future for the next 40 or 50 years.
He added: “We meant it. If we then go back on that, yes, it may well be – and I certainly believe – that we will in the short and medium term be worse off economically as a result of Brexit, and certainly the way the Government is going that is what is happening. It’s not about happily putting us in that position, it’s saying there’s more to this than simple economics.”
Pressed on what would happen if there was a second EU referendum, Mr Gardiner replied: “I didn’t say violence on the streets.
“What I’m saying is that in any situation, if people feel that the route to change is no longer a democratic route, then you look to social disruption, perhaps civil disobedience, in a different way.
“This is playing with our democracy – it’s playing with the foundations of our country in a way that is really, really damaging.
“We have to respect people’s vote in that referendum.”
Mr Gardiner’s comments were attacked by Labour MPs campaigning for a second EU vote on the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal, and the Scottish peer Lord Foulkes urged the shadow international development secretary to “think again and oppose Brexit or we will never see a Labour Government again in my lifetime, or even yours.”
In a letter to Mr Gardiner – who was born in Glasgow – Lord Foulkes added: “You have a duty to look after poorer people, particularly in the country of your birth.”