Europe Politics

The UK needs a second Brexit referendum after no-deal exit is rejected, says Scottish lawmaker

Key Points
  • Britons should be granted a second vote on the U.K.'s departure from the European Union, says Drew Hendry, a U.K. member of parliament with the Scottish National Party.
  • The call comes after U.K. lawmakers on Wednesday rejected the prospect of a "no-deal" Brexit.
  • Parliament is set to vote Thursday on whether to ask the EU for an extension of its looming March 29 departure deadline.
May's Brexit deal is 'terrible' for Scotland: Scottish politician

As U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal continues to face a pummeling in Parliament, the only option is to return the matter to the British public for a second referendum, according to Drew Hendry, a U.K. member of parliament from Scotland.

Hendry on Wednesday joined the chorus of parliamentarians calling for more time before Britain's looming departure from the European Union.

"There needs to be a situation now where there's an extension to Article 50 to allow this to go back to the people," Hendry told CNBC's "Squawk Box" Wednesday. Article 50 refers to the formal two-year process governing the U.K.'s departure from the European Union.

"The reason for that is very clear: There is a constitutional crisis now in the U.K. Theresa May's government is now feral," added Hendry, a Scottish National Party politician.

U.K. lawmakers rejected on Wednesday the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal. On Thursday, they will vote on whether to seek an extension to Article 50, which could prolong its exit deadline. Such an extension would need to be granted by all 27 other member states of the EU.

Pro-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament on March 13, 2019 in London, England.
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images

If the extension goes ahead, that could open up the possibility of a second Brexit referendum, a prospect that worries Brexit supporters.

However, Hendry said it was necessary to guarantee the best outcome — especially for Scots, who he said would be "disproportionately affected" by Brexit. Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a majority of 62 percent.

"All of the versions of Brexit bring deep economic harm in their wake to our people, and that disproportionately affects Scotland," said Hendry.

"The only outcome that makes any sense now is to go back to the European Union ... and say that we need a delay now so that we can take this back to the public, they can vote on whether or not to remain or accept this shoddy deal that doesn't work."

That second referendum should include a "remain" option, Hendry added.

Why this UK lawmaker says the government's got it wrong

A second Scottish referendum?

The Scottish National Party's continued rejection of May's Brexit proposals also calls into question the prospect of a second referendum on Scottish independence.

The SNP has long campaigned for Scotland to become a sovereign state independent from the U.K. However, when Scots went to the polls in 2014, they voted to remain by a majority of 55 percent.

May has repeatedly stated that she will not allow a second referendum on Scottish independence while Brexit is ongoing. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, for her part, said this week she would not go ahead with a vote without the U.K. government's approval.

Still, Hendry said he is in "no doubt" that Scotland would side in favor of independence in a future vote — particularly if it meant it could gain EU membership after a Brexit.

"The mood has changed dramatically in Scotland over a future Scottish independence referendum," said Hendry.

"People are now looking towards Scotland being an independent nation taking its place at the top table within the EU as its own member state," he added.

Despite that assertion, an aggregation of 13 opinion polls found that 55 percent of Scots would vote to remain part of the U.K. in a second independence referendum.