Lewisham West & Penge is a member of ‘Grassroots for Europe’, the grassroots pro-EU groups in the UK. We have been added our name to this letter to senior representatives of the European Union, intending to make the views of ordinary British pro-Europeans clear and to insist that our voices be considered as decisions about Brexit are being taken which will have a profound effect on our futures.
Bât. Altiero Spinelli
60 rue Wiertz / Wiertzstraat 60
B-1047 – Bruxelles/Brussels
BelgiumDATE OF SENDING
Subject: The Draft Agreement of 14 November 2018 on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European UnionDear Mr VerhofstadtOn Saturday 20 October, 700,000 people from all parts of the UK marched in London to demonstrate their opposition to Brexit and their wish to remain at the heart of Europe. The people who came spanned the generations, from babies riding on their mother’s shoulders to old people who struggled bravely to walk the route of the march.
We write as a grassroots network linking many of the pro-European campaign groups which have sprung up all over the United Kingdom, and whose supporters were on that march. Our movement is growing rapidly, as more and more people living in the UK come to realise what Brexit means for us as individuals, for our country and for Europe as a whole. Arguably, the UK now has the largest and most passionate pro-EU supporter base in the whole of Europe!
We wish to make you aware of the strength of feeling on this matter amongst the people of the United Kingdom. Millions of us want to retain the rights and freedoms granted to us under the EU Treaties and to continue to play a role at the heart of Europe. Brexit in any form would take away rights which we all hold as individuals, but we do not accept that these rights can be taken away without our consent.
You may be aware that the most recent and extensive opinion polling on the question of Brexit (conducted by Survation for Channel 4 television, with a large sample size of 20,000) shows that 54% of British people would vote to remain in the European Union if a referendum were held now. With every day that passes, this number is growing, as more information about Brexit comes into the public domain. As grassroots campaigners, we are familiar with this development – we continually meet members of the public who regret voting for Brexit and would not vote the same way if they were given the opportunity to vote again.
Young people feel particularly strongly on this matter. Millions of young adults – those who will have to live with the effects of Brexit for the longest – were too young to vote in the 2016 referendum. Over 2 years on, there is growing anger that decisions are being taken without any attention paid to the hopes and fears of these disenfranchised but politically engaged individuals.
Brexit is a policy that will cause – indeed, already is causing – serious harm to our country, ourselves and our families. People across the United Kingdom risk losing their jobs, as well as rights and freedoms that they currently enjoy by virtue of our membership of the EU. As awareness of these effects grows, so does opposition to Brexit.
We are aware that with the ending of freedom of movement we will be stripped of our rights to live, love, work, study and retire across the EU27 without discrimination and without needing special permissions or authorisations.
But it is not only the loss of rights for British citizens that disturbs us. We were appalled by Theresa May’s comments this week, in which she accused non-British EU citizens, many of whom have lived legally in the UK for many years, of “jumping the queue” of immigrants. We wish to completely disassociate ourselves from these comments. We believe that the vast majority of our fellow Britons also find views of this nature utterly repellent.
We believe that the 14 November Draft Withdrawal Agreement is not in the best interests of the UK or the EU. Furthermore, it does not command the support of the British people. It does not bear any resemblance to the fantasy vision of Brexit that was cynically promised by the Leave campaign – a pain-free Brexit with free and easy trade deals, more resources for public services and more money in our pockets. The legitimacy of the narrow Leave vote has anyway been thrown into serious doubt by revelations that the Leave campaign broke the law by exceeding spending limits and using discredited micro-targeting and data profiling techniques. With a criminal investigation now underway into the funding of the Leave campaign there is now a strong case for the 2016 referendum result to be considered defective. We very much welcome your call for a Mueller-style investigation into these events. The Prime Minister is now seeking to force this deal through Parliament against the clear wishes of the electorate. There would seem to be very little chance of the agreement being approved by MPs in the UK parliament. However, we are deeply worried that if we overshoot the Article 50 deadline of 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom could fall out of the EU by default.
That’s why we are campaigning for a final say – a People’s Vote – which will give us, the people of the United Kingdom, an opportunity to express their opinion based on the new facts that have come to light since June 2016, including the Draft Agreement of 14 November. We insist that such a vote includes the option to stay in the European Union.
We welcome the recent statements by Donald Tusk keeping open the possibility of “No Brexit”. We draw to your attention that the possibility of Article 50 being revoked is currently being addressed in the courts. So, Brexit is by no means a “fait accompli”.
As representatives of a substantial – quite possibly majority – view of ordinary British people, from all parts of our kingdom, we now ask you to please hear our voices and realise that the mood in the UK has moved against Brexit. In this context, we urge you to keep open the possibility of Article 50 being revoked, and the UK being permitted to remain in the European Union. We would very much appreciate your confirmation that this option remains on the table.
Finally, we would like to request the opportunity for a small party of representatives of our organisation to meet with you within the next 2 weeks in order to discuss our concerns and those of the British people with you in more detail and to hear your plans in this regard.
Thank you very much for giving this matter your attention.
Yours sincerely[LIST OF GRASSROOTS GROUPS]