London: Thousands of people took to the streets of central London on Saturday for one of the biggest anti-Brexit marches to demand another referendum over Britain's membership of the European Union (EU). Protesters descended upon the capital from up and down the UK to participate in the “Put it to the People” march, dubbed as one of the UK's largest attracting an estimated 1 million people to demand that the British people are given another chance to vote on Brexit after MPs have failed to break the impasse over the issue in Parliament.
“Here in London, thousands of people from across our city and country have come together to send a clear message: Enough is enough – it's time to give the British public the final say on Brexit,” London mayor Sadiq Khan said in a Twitter statement as he joined the march. Campaigners marched from Park Lane to Parliament Square in the heart of London, followed by a rally in front of the House of Parliament.
They have found the backing of a series of anti-Brexit politicians, including former British prime minister Tony Blair, former Conservative Cabinet minister Justine Greening and former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve, and former Tory turned Independent Group MP Anna Soubry. The protest, organised by anti-Brexit groups such as People's Vote, Britain for Europe and Open Britain, comes at the end of another hectic week in British politics when Prime Minister Theresa May secured a short delay to the 29 March Brexit deadline.
She will now try and get her own twice-defeated withdrawal agreement passed in a third vote in the House of Commons next week. However, the deal may not be tabled again unless the government is confident of winning this time. It is also preparing for a series of indicative votes in Parliament to give deeply divided cross-party MPs the chance to table some options they are willing to back on Brexit in place of her rejected divorce deal over the controversial Irish backstop clause.
Unless May's deal is passed by MPs, the UK will have to come up with an alternative plan or else face crashing out without a deal on 12 April under the EU's strictly set caveats to the delay of the Article 50 mechanism. If the deal does make it across the Commons finish line, the UK will be given until 22 May to finalise leaving the 28-member economic bloc under the withdrawal agreement.
In a letter to all MPs on Friday evening, May offered to talk to them over the coming days "as Parliament prepares to take momentous decisions". The anti-Brexit march comes as a counter pro-Brexit “March to Leave”, which started in the town of Sunderland in north-east England a week ago, continues its journey towards London. Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage re-joined the March to Leave in Linby, near Nottingham, on Saturday morning telling around 200 Brexit supporters that May had reduced the nation "to a state of humiliation".
Meanwhile, a record-breaking online petition on the UK Parliament's website calling for Brexit to be cancelled by revoking Article 50 has attracted more than 4.3 million signatures within days.
Many MPs have expressed the hope that it would add further weight to demands of a second referendum because the June 2016 referendum in favour of Brexit took place against a very different set of circumstances.
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Updated Date: Mar 24, 2019 11:31:18 IST