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As Brexit crunch nears, campaign for new referendum gathers pace

LONDON (Reuters) – After losing the most controversial referendum in British history, James McGrory went for a drink in The Hope pub near the medieval meat market in London. Among butchers with bloody jackets, his dream of reversing Brexit seemed hopeless.

A flag of the British Union and a flag of the European Union are seen flying over offices in London, Great Britain, on March 30, 201

6. REUTERS / Toby Melville

Two years later, with the country in crisis about how or if to leave the European Union, McGrory feels more confident that his campaign can help ensure another referendum that he hopes will overturn the result of 2016.

The idea of ​​a second referendum has gathered the support of some senior British political figures and seems to have joined sections of the public, but the political situation is so uncertain that it is difficult to say whether this actually translates into another vote and when or how this could be done, or what question could be asked.

"We have gone from being seen as a marginal vision, liquidated and derided, to be now at the center of the Brexit debate," said McGrory, 36, director of the campaign for people's vote. a & # 39; interview.

"The chances are reduced every day we get another referendum, the whole pace is with our campaign."

The odds of betting show that there is a 43% probability of an EU referendum before 2020. I Gambling players think there is a 55% chance that Britain will not leave as expected on March 29th.

Opinion polls suggest that there has been a slight shift of voters to stay in the EU, but the public remains largely divided in half.

It is not yet clear how exactly a second vote can be called, although some members of parliament have drawn up a detailed roadmap, establishing possible legislative paths for another referendum.

Meanwhile, activists for another vote are committed to lobbying parliament and trying to increase public support with rallies and social and mainstream media. They note that Prime Minister Theresa May has included the desired outcome as one of the three options facing the country: her agreement, no agreement or reverse Brexit.

U.S .. The investment bank J.P. Morgan said the chances of Britain erasing the Brexit rose after a series of parliamentary defeats in May threw new doubts on his plan to resign from the blockade.


Overturning the Brexit would mark one of the most extraordinary inversions in modern British history and would probably ward off the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU.

The path to a new referendum is fraught with crisis.

The agreement on the Brexit of May must first be voted in Parliament on December 11th. Secondly, his government must endure an attempt by the Labor party to reverse it and then convene a national election.

With the watch stopwatch on March 29 and financial market prices in what would be a potentially messy exit, McGrory and his campaign supporters hope that British politicians will agree to have come to a dead end and put the matter back to the voters.

David Lammy, a Labor MP, said that after the parliament has not reached a consensus, it will reluctantly accept another referendum as the best among a limited number of escape routes to avoid an exit. potentially chaotic.

"We'll probably end up in circles and when politics is stuck and can not reach a compromise, the only way to get out of it is to get back to people," Lammy told Reuters.

Lammy said the situation might resemble the Charles Dickens novel Bleak House, which revolves around an agreement on the will that has been in court so long that few of the participants can remember the original arguments.

A new referendum can only be called if approved by parliament. This could be proposed by the government or by the rebels.


The obstacles to another referendum are high.

Both major political parties committed themselves to leave the EU in accordance with the 2016 referendum

Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who voted against joining the European Community in a 1975 referendum said he was not enthusiastic about another referendum now.

Your party has said it will only support another referendum if the agreement is rejected and they will not be able to force the general election.

Some union leaders have opposed another referendum because they believe it would be seen as a betrayal by millions of Brexit supporters in Labor's electoral heart.

Brexit supporters say the 2016 vote must be respected. "It's totally dangerous for us to turn to people now and say," We're disappointed, you're wrong, "said Nigel Evans, Conservative MP.

Even if the parliament were to agree in principle with a second referendum, Great Britain would have therefore had to request an extension of its timetable to leave sufficient time for a campaign to the EU, probably withdrawing his notice of departure of article 50.

Tuesday, a few hours before a five-day parliamentary debate on the May deal, a consultant of the European Court of Justice said that Britain could revoke his formal notice of divorce. The court should rule on December 10

Even if there was a change of mood, there would be controversy about what the question would be and if another referendum would have given a different result.


After the failure of the 2016 campaign, the pro-Europeans turned against each other and accused the Brexit campaign of what they saw as the betrayal of their adversaries.

But in the wake of their defeat, a small group of influential politicians, journalists and activists began to open a plan to keep Britain in the club they joined in 1973.

They had to face the truth unpleasant.

Their 2016 campaign had been torn apart by rivalry, damaged by its association with then Prime Minister David Cameron, underperformed on social media and was launched by opponents as the voice of the institution that claimed the status quo.

In recent months, pro-EU activists have felt more optimistic. In October, the People & # 39; s Vote organized a march of nearly 700,000 people across London demanding another vote.

"The tables have turned," said McGrory. "We are the loser.We are the scrappy campaign that is doing things a little differently.

In the last month, two ministers have resigned to ask for another referendum.

Three of the four British prime ministers still alive – John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – also said that a second referendum is the way to solve the crisis

James McGrory, director of the political campaigns group of People & # 39; s Vote, stands for a portrait on Lambeth Bridge in central London, Great Britain, November 29, 2018. REUTERS / Toby Melville

The mood at the People's Office in Millbank Tower near Parliament is bullish

Young people look at recipient plots and organize an advertising blitz to convince parliamentarians to block government agreement.

"If anyone thinks Brexit is a done deal they should be ready for a & # 39 Another surprise, "said McGrory. [19659044] Report by Andrew MacAskill; Additional reporting by William James; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Giles Elgood

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