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If EU is to extend deadline, we must make our voices heard

by Graham Bishop | 24.06.2019

Graham Bishop is vice-chairman of European Movement UK and board member of the Kangaroo Group.

I was in Brussels this week to attend the 40th anniversary of the Kangaroo Group – founded in 1979 to provide the initial impetus for what became the EU’s single market just a few years later. Of course, Brexit is near the top of everyone’s concerns – but fatigue is surely setting in.

What do the worker-bees in the Brussels bubble think about giving the UK another extension? They would really like us to stay, but if the extension is just to waste more time demanding a reopening of the Withdrawal Agreement, then the eyes start rolling!

But what if there is a real purpose? Is it possible that we could decide we want to stay? And how would it be done? The BBC tells us that Farage and his new Brexit party scored a major victory at the European elections and suggests pro-Europeans would lose another referendum. But when I asked our EU colleagues if they know that “we” Remainers won the popular vote by about 55% to 45%, their eyes light up.

I also remind them of the huge marches in London and the petition of 6 million in six weeks… ah yes, they had forgotten that! So perhaps a delay of say six months to allow a properly fought referendum to confirm Parliament’ decision? Sounds reasonable – and good luck!

July 20th
Park Lane, London

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If we are to get an extension so that the People’s Vote campaign can deliver a popular vote, then we need to keep making “Brussels” very aware that there is a massive body of UK society that is deeply opposed to any form of Brexit. Generating massive crowds in the centre of London is something “they” cannot fail to notice because the BBC will be obliged to report it to their desks.

So the top priority right now is to make the March for Change a great success on July 20. That will also send a clear extra message that pro-Europeans are staunch defenders of real democracy – already challenged across Europe by the authoritarian “populists”. If UK democracy fails, with just 0.25% of the electorate choosing the next prime minister, what hope is there elsewhere?

The key Brussels meeting will be on October 17 when the European Council will decide what to do. That is the moment when they must have ringing in their ears the chants of “let us be heard” from huge crowds in the centre of London, and from all round the country. “They” must be left in no doubt that the growing majority of UK citizens want the same as the European Movement: a strong Europe “with the United Kingdom playing a full part”.

This article was originally published on the European Movement UK website.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe