Liberal Democrat grandee Sir Vince Cable has branded the idea of a second EU referendum as "seriously disrespectful", in a blow to Tim Farron and his flagship Brexit policy.
The leader wants voters to have a say on the terms of the UK's split from the EU after the government has finished negotiations with Brussels.
But Cable, a former business secretary, reportedly told a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat conference today (19 September), that such a move would be "utterly counterproductive".
"There are people in the party who don't accept the outcome, who feel incredibly angry and feel it's reversible, that somehow we can undo it," he said.
"The public have voted and I do think it's seriously disrespectful and politically utterly counterproductive to say: 'Sorry guys, you've got it wrong, we're going to try again,' I don't think we can do that."
However, just five people voted against a motion supporting Farron's referendum policy at the Liberal Democrat conference. Owen Smith, the Labour leadership challenger, has also promised to hold a referendum to "ratify" a Brexit.
Theresa May, meanwhile, is expected to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the official mechanism to split from the EU – in 2017. The move would start two years' worth of negotiations with Brussels.
The prime minister has ruled out a second EU referendum, giving parliament a say on Article 50 and stressed that "Brexit means Brexit". A poll from YouGov, of more than 1,700 people between 27 and 28 June, showed 58% of voters did not want a second Brexit ballot.