As the government appeared to finalize a draft Brexit agreement, thousands have rallied in London for a second referendum on EU membership.
The event late Tuesday at the Hall of Westminster near parliament was organized by the pro-EU movements the People’s Vote campaign and Best for Britain, and up to 3,000 people packed the rafters, according to event organizers.
The rally emphasized the need for a people’s vote on the final deal between London and Brussels, including an option on the ballot to remain in the EU under the existing terms.
Among the guest MP speakers were Jo Johnson and Dominic Grieve of the Conservative Party and David Lammy of the Labour Party.
“It’s clear people are not buying it and don’t want this dodgy Brexit deal!” comedian Andy Parsons told the energetic crowd.
Leading the crowd in chanting “We the people demand a people’s vote!” Parsons also said that young people from all over the country will lose the most from Brexit and so feel alienated from the political parties in parliament.
The event also featured an unexpected special guest, former footballer Gary Lineker, who was met with loud cheers and a standing ovation when he walked onto the stage.
“I think it’s fair to say that back then we didn’t really know what it would entail, the ramifications of leaving the European Union,” Lineker said of the 2016 EU referendum, adding: “It’s becoming clear that there are very few positives. It’s almost unanimous that people think it will have some sort of debilitating effect on our economy, at the very least.”
Jo Johnson, the Conservative MP who resigned from government last week, also encouraged a people’s vote, arguing that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was not what the people voted for and that agreeing to such a deal would endanger U.K. democracy.
Johnson, the brother of ex-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, argued that it is becoming increasingly clear “we weren’t going to get a deal in the national interest” to leave the EU, blasting the false “fantastical promises” that convinced many that Britain should leave.
Also speaking at the event was Dominic Grieve, a former attorney general and pro-EU Conservative MP, who said: “We should keep open the possibility that people may change their minds about the decision they made.”
Grieve had pushed, unsuccessfully, to give parliament more of a say over the process.
There have been growing calls for a people’s vote, or second referendum, on the final withdrawal that has yet to be agreed on between the U.K. and the EU, as well as parliament itself. May has repeatedly said that there will be no second referendum.
May on Wednesday called a special Cabinet meeting after having reportedly finalized a Brexit withdrawal agreement with Brussels.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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