Thousands of supporters of the European Union gathered in central London on Saturday (23 June) to call on the British government to hold a final public vote on the terms of Brexit.
Two years after the country voted 52 to 48% to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc, polls show political divisions over Brexit are entrenched and, despite some confusion over what Brexit will mean, there has been no clear change of heart.
The “People’s Vote” campaign, which includes several pro-EU groups, aims to ensure a public ballot “so that we can decide if a decision that will affect our lives for generations makes the country better or worse off”.
WOW! 100,000 people have signed the petition for a #PeoplesVote on the final Brexit deal…and we only launched it a day ago ?
— People's Vote UK (@peoplesvote_uk) June 24, 2018
A Survation poll earlier this week found that 48% of respondents supported a referendum on the final deal, while 25% percent were opposed.
As yet there is no certainty about what the final deal could look like amid infighting in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government as well as among some of its opponents about what they want from Britain’s new trading ties with the EU after it leaves in March next year.
Wow! The #PeoplesVote petition just smashed it's SECOND target as we pass 100,000 signatures after only 1 day!
Now for 200,000! Share this with everyone you know & help send a message to Downing St on Brexit that is too big to ignore.
— Britain for Europe #FBPE (@_Britain4Europe) June 24, 2018
‘Freedom to burst out’
Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson, one of the main proponents of the “Leave” vote, has meanwhile written an article in the tabloid newspaper the Sun defending Brexit.
Writing in The Sun, Boris Johnson says “at least some extra funding for the NHS will come from the Brexit dividend”. That’s not what his bus said, as I recall. pic.twitter.com/91oMUhkpN8
— Kevin Schofield (@PolhomeEditor) June 23, 2018
Britain had voted for “the freedom to bust out of the corsets of EU regulation and rules” he said, and any softening of the final deal – such as continued membership of the single market and customs union – would be unwelcome.
Those who voted for Brexit had not changed their minds, he said. “They don’t want some bog roll Brexit – soft, yielding and seemingly infinitely long” he said, using a British slang expression for toilet paper.
Last year Boris Johnson said that The Economist was “suspiciously unread”. But whoever wrote his Sun story today certainly seems to read it… pic.twitter.com/oGVQesqd9l
— Tom Wainwright (@t_wainwright) June 23, 2018
Johnson was also quoted in the Telegraph newspaper by two diplomatic sources as strongly dismissing business leaders’ concerns about the impact of Brexit.
Exclusive: "F*** business"
EU diplomats shocked by Boris Johnson's 'four-letter reply' to business's Brexit fears at Foreign Office reception for Queen's birthday.https://t.co/Wx4RF7RVIt
— James Crisp (@JamesCrisp6) June 23, 2018
Speaking on BBC radio Jurgen Maier, head of German manufacturer Siemens in Britain, said slogans about Brexit were “incredibly unhelpful”.
“What we need to do now is get closer to our European partners and work out what a realistic, pragmatic Brexit is, which works for both sides,” he said.
On Friday, Airbus said that if Britain were to leave the EU without a deal it would be forced to reconsider its long-term position and put UK jobs at risk.