LONDON — Brexit opponents have begun pushing for a new referendum in the hopes that British voters will have had a change of heart about leaving the European Union. That may just be so, reports Samira Shackle from London.
At the end of December, former Labour minister Andrew Adonis resigned from his position as chair of the government-backed National Infrastructure Commission. His strongly worded resignation letter made his reasons clear: "The European Union withdrawal bill is the worst legislation of my lifetime," he wrote. "It arrives soon in the House of Lords and I feel duty bound to oppose it relentlessly from the Labour benches."
In the month that has passed since, Adonis has dedicated himself to campaigning for a second referendum on Brexit, introducing a proposal in the House of Lords and this week launching a nationwide tour to convince the public.
Calls for a second public vote have long been dismissed by politicians; both conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, head of the Labour party, have, at different points, ruled out the possibility. Any talk of a second referendum has been portrayed in the right-wing media as anti-democratic, a cause promoted by "out-of-touch Remoaners." Yet it might not be out of touch after all. A January poll by ICM and the Guardian found a 16-point margin in favor of a referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal.
A sitting member of the House of Lords, Adonis is hardly the ideal figurehead given the criticism of Remain supporters being elitist. On his tour around the country, he is being accompanied by a group of young anti-Brexit activists. Femi Oluwole, co-founder of "Our Future, Our Choice," is one of these activists. He recently quit a traineeship at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency to campaign to stop Brexit.
"I know what's coming if Brexit happens, and if I look back in 20 years, and I haven't done everything in my power to stop it, I'd hate myself," Oluwule told DW. "The fact is, the under-55 population of the UK voted to remain in the EU. If Brexit is supposed to mean making 'all our own laws' and negotiating 'all our own trade deals,' then Brexit can't be completed in less than 20 years. By anyone's maths, by 2021 we're a "remain" country, based purely on age statistics."