Final Say: 250,000 sign The Independent's Brexit petition in just over 24 hours

Politicians backing campaign say British people deserve right to have say on final terms of deal

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Thursday 02 August 2018 09:42
Comments
Can Brexit be reversed?

More than 250,000 people in just over 24 hours have signed The Independent’s petition demanding a Final Say referendum on the Brexit deal.

Politicians backing the campaign launched earlier this week said the sudden flood of people wanting to put their names down pointed to a growing well of support for another national vote on Brexit.

Those backing the campaign included senior figures from all the major parties, such as former Tory cabinet minister Justine Greening, ex-prime minister Tony Blair, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, Green leader Caroline Lucas and many others.

Former Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve, Labour’s Chuka Umunna, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, campaigner Gina Miller and ex-Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell are among those who have already backed the campaign.

The backing comes as Facebook released details of scores of online ads – including misleading claims about NHS spending and immigration from Turkey – targeted at its users by Brexiteers during the 2016 referendum.

The Independent kicked off its campaign for a Final Say on whatever Brexit terms emerge, along with a petition, earlier this week.

Theresa May dodges question on stockpiling ahead of Brexit

Ex-cabinet minister Ms Greening said: “I believe that putting the final decision on Brexit in the hands of the British people is the only way to break parliament’s impasse, and the right way to decide our country’s future.

“That’s why The Independent’s campaign is so vital and has my support – anyone who feels the same should back it.”

The Independent’s campaign is so vital and has my support – anyone who feels the same should back it

Ex-Tory cabinet minister Justine Greening

She spoke as Ms May still looks unlikely to be able to pass any Brexit plans through the House of Commons easily because of her wafer thin majority.

Earlier in the day British and European Union negotiators in Brussels also gave downbeat assessments about the state of negotiations.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said there remains “major issues to be discussed and questions to be answered”, and rejected Ms May’s customs plans, while Brexit secretary Dominic Raab added: “To be frank, we are not at the end of the road yet.”

Chuka Umunna and John Rentoul debate the possibility of another Brexit referendum

With an economically devastating no-deal Brexit looking ever more likely, Mr Blair took to Twitter to give his support to The Independent’s campaign.

He said: “33m+ people voted in the EU referendum wanting a better country, not to be poorer, not to put further pressure on our already stretched health service, not for job losses or to stockpile food and medicines. It should be your #Finalsay.”

This vote must include an option for an exit from Brexit I congratulate The Independent for joining this campaign. It’s both a brave and correct move

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable

Theresa May has urged voters not to worry about Brexit, despite her government setting out plans to stockpile food, blood and medicine in case it goes badly.

She said people should take “reassurance and comfort” from news of the plans, to be implemented if the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement in March.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has admitted he had already met with industry leaders to discuss building up NHS reserves of vaccinations, medical devices, clinical consumables and blood products if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, while Mr Raab also recently confirmed preparations were being made to stockpile food.

Matt Hancock talks about stockpiling of blood products in the event of a no deal Brexit

Sir Vince said: “The Liberal Democrats have been fighting for the British people to have the final say on any Brexit deal, or worse still, no deal. This vote must include an option for an exit from Brexit.

“I congratulate The Independent for joining this campaign. It’s both a brave and correct move.”

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said The Independent joining the campaign for the people to have a final say on Brexit could “prove to be a turning point in this saga”.

Green leader Caroline Lucas said the case for a People’s Vote – the parallel campaign for another referendum on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations – is growing stronger every day.

She added: “The Independent’s voice is already making a huge impact.

“As the government descends into further chaos and parliament appears gridlocked, it’s increasingly clear that the only way to resolve the situation is through a People’s Vote.”

Facebook released details of scores of online ads targeted at its users by Brexiteers during the EU referendum campaign.

The messages, handed to a House of Commons committee inquiry into fake news, confirm Vote Leave relied heavily on its controversial claim – described as “misleading” by the official statistician – that the UK hands £350m a week to the EU which could otherwise be spent on the NHS.

Other ads repeatedly made dubious claims that Turkey and Albania would soon join the EU and that millions of their citizens would flood into the UK.

Eloise Todd, chief executive of Best for Britain, which campaigns to keep the UK open to EU membership, said: “We need a People’s Vote to tell the government it has taken the wrong path through the Brexit process. So the news that The Independent has come out to support the campaign feels like a real turning point.

No-deal Brexit could happen 'by accident', Jeremy Hunt says

“Theresa May is in office, but Jacob Rees-Mogg is in power. It is time the people took back control. I would urge everyone to back the campaign and sign the petition. We voted on departure, let the people vote on the destination.”

Labour MP David Lammy, who has called for a second referendum since 2016, said it was clear even then that the Leave campaign – which has been fined by police after breaking spending rules – was based on wild assertions.

He added: “The Independent’s new push for a referendum on the final Brexit deal sits, with other similar campaigns, on the right side of history.

“Allowing the public to choose whether we remain in the EU – or indeed choose, in full knowledge, to become poorer, less sovereign and diplomatically neutered – is the only democratic solution to this political nightmare.”

Labour’s Geraint Davies said: “Thanks to broken promises, cheating and incompetent negotiations, what people reasonably expected from voting to leave won’t be fulfilled, and this decision will affect future generations. It’s critical that people are given the final say.”

Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine said: “It’s becoming clearer every day that we deserve the opportunity to have a final say on the deal, and whether or not it is what people actually wanted.

“Even people who voted to leave are telling me what is on the table now is not necessarily what they wanted. We deserve the chance to have a final say and we should be demanding it.”

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