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British steelworkers join The Independent's campaign for a Final Say referendum on Brexit

Exclusive: Major union joins the campaign as The Independent also teams up with People's Vote for mass march in London

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Thursday 16 August 2018 19:35 BST
People’s March for a People’s Vote on Brexit takes over London

British steelworkers today throw their weight behind The Independent’s campaign for a Final Say referendum on Brexit.

The Community union – representing some 30,000 workers in total – calls on Theresa May to “do the right thing” and allow the British public to determine their own future.

In a further significant development in the drive for a new referendum, The Independent and the People’s Vote campaign are joining forces for a mass march through central London later this year.

The alliance will see the two organisations mobilise activists and media across the country to capture the growing tide of opinion that a further referendum on Brexit must be held.

Polls show fast increasing support for the idea amid deepening Tory divisions, doubts that Ms May can secure parliamentary backing for her plans and meagre public support for her approach.

Relations between UK and EU negotiators have also descended into a new state of paranoia this week, with Brussels not denying reports that its officials believe they are being bugged by British spies.

It is against this backdrop that Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss writes exclusively for The Independent, saying: “In June 2016, the British public gave our government a mandate to go and negotiate a withdrawal from the European Union.

Dominic West discusses the People's Vote March for the Future

“Exactly what that looked like was unclear, but Theresa May told us she would go in and negotiate a deal that is in the best interests of British workers and their families.

“It now seems that such a deal is unachievable or may not exist. That is why my trade union, Community, is backing The Independent’s Final Say campaign, to secure a people’s vote on the final deal.”

Contribute to the march of a generation

Make it too big to ignore

At the last People’s Vote March in June, well over 100,000 people marched on parliament.
Since then, the crisis around Brexit has become worse. So the next event, the People’s Vote and The Independent March for the Future, must be bigger and better.
To make it happen, the organisation needs help to pay for the staffing, the leaflets, the advertising, the security and the audiovisuals that will make this march too big to ignore
To chip in what you can today to help make this happen visit

Community’s roots are in textile manufacturing and the steel industry – pushed to the brink of collapse in recent years as much larger economies such as China distort international markets.

In 2018 the industry has faced new pressure in particular from steel tariffs imposed by Donald Trump’s US administration, which Brexiteers are relying on for a favourable future trade deal.

Community also supports prison and justice workers, logistics, finance, politics and public affairs staff, the charity and freelance sectors and is affiliated to the Labour Party.

Mr Rickhuss highlighted London School of Economics data concluding Brexit was already costing the average UK household more than £404 a year by June 2017.

He argued that the facts of withdrawal were now “profoundly different to those presented in 2016”, branding the promise of £350m a week for the NHS “worthless” and the guarantee that European trade would not be harmed as “at best a mistake, and at worst a deliberate lie.”

The general secretary added: “When Theresa May believes she has got the best outcome she can, then she must come back and allow us to decide if her best is good enough.

When Theresa May believes she has got the best outcome she can, then she must come back and allow us to decide if her best is good enough.  If that outcome is rejected, then all options should be on the table

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss

“If that outcome is rejected, then all options should be on the table, including reopening negotiations with Europe and retaining the status quo.

“Community would not shy away from asking our members to vote on important or difficult issues in the workplace; our politicians must do the right thing and give the people a Final Say on their future.”

The People’s Vote launched in April demanding a referendum on the deal agreed with the EU and has a grassroots network of around 1 million people, holding rallies and action days across the country.

The Independent launched its own Final Say campaign three weeks ago, so far gathering 615,000 names to its petition along with a string of political endorsements.

Indy Brexit Debate: UK will have 'state of emergency if there is no deal' says Dominic Grieve

In June this year more than 100,000 people from all walks of life marched on parliament to demand their democratic voice be heard in a new Brexit referendum.

But following the newly forged alliance, the People’s Vote and The Independent March for the Future, on Saturday 20 October in London, is set to be much larger.

It received backing from British film star Dominic West today, who said: “Please sign the petition, join us on our march, and let’s get a people’s vote to say that we won’t be dictated to.”

The gathering, with young people whose voices were not heard two years ago at its forefront, will constitute one of the most significant demonstrations in British history – just as Ms May returns from Brussels from a critical Brexit summit.

Amatey Doku, vice-president of the 7 million-strong National Union of Students and a supporter of the For our Future’s Sake group that backs a new referendum, said: “This Tory government, unfortunately assisted by the Labour Party, threaten to harm young people’s futures.

Jacob Rees-Mogg suggests a second Brexit referendum would be acceptable in clip from 2011

“That’s why students across the country are coming together for the People’s Vote and The Independent March for the Future. Students and young people can no longer be ignored – and on 20 October, we won’t be.”

The prime minister had once aimed to have a deal agreed with Europe earlier this summer, but with negotiations badly stalling and a major cabinet fallout, expectations turned to the October summit.

British ministers privately admit it is now unlikely the UK will be able to agree a deal even by October, with a special summit potentially needed before Christmas – leaving just three months in the new year for the UK and the EU to ratify any agreement.

It is also unclear if Ms May will be able to navigate any deal across her party’s deep divisions, with the European Research Group of backbench Tory MPs drawing up alternative proposals highlighting the benefits of a no-deal Brexit.

An exclusive poll carried out by BMG Research this week found that 48 per cent of the public would now back a vote on any deal struck between the UK and the EU – up from 44 per cent just four weeks ago.

Just 24 per cent opposed the idea, down three points over the same period. Only 14 per cent of the 1,500 people surveyed supported Ms May’s chequers deal given a choice.

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