Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned of “devastating” consequences if Brexit is reversed through a second referendum on EU membership.
Speaking in Singapore on a visit to highlight the economic model the south-east Asian city state could provide to the UK outside the European Union, Mr Hunt insisted Brexit had to be delivered.
He said: “We’ve been given our instructions by the British people, they’ve asked us to leave the European Union and they’re expecting us to get on with that.
“If we went back to them and asked for their opinion a second time, they’d say ‘well you guys aren’t listening to us. Are you going to ask us a third time or a fourth time until you get the answer you want?’ And if that’s the case, then that’s not a democracy at all.
“So the social consequences in one of the oldest democracies in the world of not going ahead and leaving the EU on 29 March, as we’ve been instructed to do, would be devastating.”
Mr Hunt denied that he wanted the UK to follow the social or political model in Singapore, which has been ruled by the same party since 1959 and has been criticised for a restrictive approach to personal freedom.
He also defended Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, claiming MPs could get “absolutely everything we want” if it is approved.
“We have a clear opportunity to leave the EU on 29 March,” Mr Hunt said.
“It has the vast majority of things that people wanted, not absolutely everything. The question is can we turn this into something that gives us absolutely everything we wanted and I believe we can.
“There will be some tough negotiations to follow in the years ahead, but I think getting this clearer language on the backstop will help to get it through Parliament.”
Mr Hunt confirmed the UK Government was continuing to try to change details of the Irish border backstop within the Withdrawal Agreement.
He said: “What we’re saying, very simply, is we’re not asking for anything new, but we are asking you [the EU] to define what ‘temporary’ means so we can have confidence we’re not going to be trapped in the customs union for ever against the wishes of the British people.”