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May evades Brexit vote query

LONDON

British Prime Minister Theresa May refused to say whether she would vote for Brexit if there was another referendum, repeatedly avoiding giving an answer on an issue that will define Britain’s fate for generations to come.

Although May has talked up the “promise of Brexit” since gaining power last year, she had, in the run-up to the June 2016 referendum, quietly backed staying in the European Union.

She won the top job after David Cameron, who had also campaigned to remain, resigned in the chaos following the shock result of the vote. She has ruled out holding a second referendum on the final deal of the terms of Brexit, despite calls for one from some pro-EU lawmakers.

Asked three times in an interview if she had changed her mind since then, she did not answer directly, saying she wouldn’t engage with hypothetical questions and said her job was now to deliver what the people had voted for.

“I voted remain for good reasons at the time, but circumstances move on and I think the important thing now is that I think we should all be focused on delivering Brexit and delivering the best deal,” she said on British radio station LBC on Tuesday.

The United Kingdom remains deeply divided over Brexit which most senior politicians view as the most important decision Britain has taken since World War Two.

In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 per cent of votes cast, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million voters, or 48.1 per cent of votes cast, backed staying.

Britain has just over one year to negotiate the terms of the divorce and the outlines of the future relationship before it is due to leave in March 2019. Both sides need a deal to keep trade flowing between the world’s biggest trading bloc.

But the other 27 members of the EU combined have about five times the economic might of Britain.

Agencies