Politics, Europe

Britain remains divided 2 months before Brexit

Opinions entrenched as date for divorce nears

22.01.2019
Britain remains divided 2 months before Brexit

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON

With about 60 days left before Brexit and more than 2.5 years after the referendum Brits voted to leave the EU, many here are still divided about the future of the complex issue.

Anadolu Agency spoke to Brits on the day U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was making a statement on her government’s Plan B regarding Brexit.

Leavers

Penelope, who was staging a small protest in front of Downing Street, thinks Brits have already had their say and the country should immediately leave the EU.

She said Brits “voted for independence in 2016” but two-and-a-half-years later, the government is trying to get Brexit “in name only.”

Brits still love the Europe but they would not like to be governed by Brussels, she said.

“The deal turned down … was a deal with no end,” Penelope said, referring to May’s heavy defeat last week on the agreement she reached with the EU.

Penelope said the rejected deal would keep the U.K. in the EU indefinitely but “that’s not what we voted for.”

Another Brit, Thomas, voted to leave.

“Brexit is Brexit,” Thomas told Anadolu Agency as he stood with a Union Jack in front of the entrance of the Palace of Westminster.

“We voted two-and-a-half years ago to leave the EU,” he said, and rejected the idea of a second referendum.

A second referendum would mean Remainers essentially have won and that would be the “end of democracy,” said Thomas.

“We had a vote … simple. We voted to leave,” he said.

Standing by his fruits stall on central Victoria Street, Terrance, said the U.K. should complete the Brexit process soon.

Terrance imports fruits from Spain but wants to divorce from the 28-nation bloc although he knows tariffs would be imposed.

“We should just get out and get on with it,” he said.

Remainers

Anadolu Agency found hardened supporters for a second vote on the other side of the issue.

Steve demanded a new referendum on Brexit.

“We really need a people’s vote,” he said.

”Now people have seen this mess and folding and the nation is being deceived, we want another say and we want to remain in the EU,” he said. “Brexit needs to be stopped.”

Jane thinks backbenchers in the House of Commons should put in serious amendments “to give us a people’s vote” and remaining in the UK makes social and economic sense.

Simon, who stood outside the British parliament with a huge EU flag, believes it is hard to get a deal reached with the EU to get approval from the parliament.

He worries about the no-deal option.

“If there is a path to a soft Brexit, I might be a little happier,” he said.

He added that a second vote gives voters a second chance to look at what Brexit actually means.

Deadlock

The deadlock over Brexit continued Monday as May failed to offer any concrete changes to her deal -- which was rejected last week by an overwhelming majority of MPs.

May said she has been listening to parliamentary groups and opposition party leaders and would discuss new options with EU officials to break the deadlock on Brexit.

She, however, ruled out the extension of article 50, membership of customs union or a people’s vote.

Recognizing concerns about a no-deal Brexit from all sides of the parliament, May said ruling out a no-deal Brexit could be possible only by revoking article 50 but that would be against the result of the 2016 referendum.

May also ruled out a second referendum on Brexit, saying it would undermine social cohesion and British democracy.

“I do not believe there is majority for second referendum,” she said.

Her deal was rejected by lawmakers in a 432-202 vote last week after many MPs, including 118 Conservatives, most expressing their objections to the backstop clause - an insurance policy to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit until a solution to retain a seamless border is found.

The U.K. is set to leave the EU on March 29.

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