Patience Wheatcroft, a former newspaper editor, said she felt it was “imperative that we don’t press the button on article 50”, telling the Times that she hoped delays in the Lords of any potential Brexit legislation would lead to a second referendum.
A legal challenge on whether the government can trigger article 50, which marks the start of exit negotiations, without the authorisation of parliament is set to be heard in the high court in the autumn.
Lady Wheatcroft said she did not want the Lords to stand in the way of Brexit at the moment but added: “However, if it comes to a bill, I think the Lords might actually delay things. I think there’s a majority in the Lords for remaining.”
Asked whether she would support peers delaying Brexit legislation, she said: “Yes, I would. And I would hope, while we delayed things, that there would be sufficient movement in the EU to justify putting it to the electorate, either through a general election or a second referendum.”
Responding to the comments, May’s official spokeswoman said: “The PM has been very clear that Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a success of it. That work to prepare for those negotiations is now under way and that will continue to be a priority for this government. Parliament supported the referendum on the EU.
“The British people have made their decision and everybody should be focused on getting behind that and making a success of Brexit.”
May campaigned to remain in the EU but did not take such a prominent role in the campaign as some Conservative colleagues such as David Cameron and George Osborne.
Since taking over from Cameron as prime minister, she has burnished her credentials among Eurosceptics by making clear that Britain’s EU exit was one of her main priorities and appointing key anti-EU ministers Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox to roles that will involve negotiating the complexities of leaving.
This article was written by Rowena Mason Deputy political editor, for theguardian.com on Monday 1st August 2016 15.47 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010