In a letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition and EU Leaders, seven city chapters of civil rights group the New Europeans as well as British and EU citizens in the UK and across EU member states have called for a second referendum on the day of the European elections to break the Brexit deadlock.

Speaking about the letter, Roger Casale said:

“We cannot stand the uncertainty any longer and the disruption to our lives and those of our friends, families, colleagues and others around Europe. It is now time to act”

The letter asks EU leaders to offer Britain a 3-month extension so that a new referendum can be held on 23 May, the day of the European elections. Crucially, the campaigners also call on the Labour party to sign off the Withdrawal Agreement but only once the extension of three months has been granted and the referendum has been agreed and the legislation passed to secure it.

“It is time to cut the Gordian knot that is holding everything back,” said Roger Casale the former Labour MP and founder of New Europeans who has proposed this way forward.

“If that means signing the Withdrawal Agreement into law but with the certainty of a second referendum then that i what now needs to happen.”

EU citizens have been promised guarantees of their rights in the UK if Britain leaves without a deal but the position of Britons n the EU in such circumstances is still uncertain.


Roger Casale”Drastic problems require drastic solutions – we cannot live in a perpetual state of uncertainty and the risks of allowing the UK to leave the EU with no deal are too great” said Roger Casale, “so use the fact that there will be elections on 23 May, if an extension is granted, to hold a referendum on the Withdrawal Agreement and break the impasse.”

If there were an election on 23 May, and Britain voted to stay, Article 50 would be revoked, the Withdrawal Agreement would be null and void and British MEP’s could take up their seats in the new European parliament on 2 July. If Britain voted to leave , it would do so on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement – member states would add extra MEP’s to replace the British ones based on the pre-agreed formula.

The letter is as follows;

Dear Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, Donald Tusk, Michel Barnier, Jean Claude Juncker, Antonio Tajani and Guy Verhofstadt,
We are a group of concerned citizens who have been fighting for our and other’s rights in the event of Britain leaving the European Union since 2013 – yes, since before the referendum. We represent organisations or volunteer with organisations based both in the UK and in the EU 27 member states.

The position of EU27 citizens in the UK and Britons in Europe in the event of a leave vote should have been thought about before a referendum was even contemplated, and our rights secured before such a vote was allowed to take place. Two and a half years on we are confronted with the cliff edge of a no deal Brexit. You may not see the cliff edge, but that is exactly the feeling that 5 million citizens in the UK and EU27 member states have had since 24 June 2016 and we continue to feel that way today. Our rights are being taken away and yet we do not have a voice.

So before you tip us all over the edge of the cliff and into a sea of uncertainty as a result of a no deal Brexit, we have something to say.

Firstly, the Withdrawal Agreement should be voted through without delay. There is no prospect of this being changed and it is excruciating to watch these political games being played out while we continue to teeter in the wind on the precipice of a no deal. If the Labour Party votes for the Withdrawal Agreement it will become law. We therefore appeal to Jeremy Corbyn to take this course of action but crucially only once he has secured the other measures set out below.

Secondly, a condition of voting through the Withdrawal Agreement, must be a commitment to a new referendum. Without this commitment, i.e. without legislation to secure the referendum, Labour should continue to withhold support for the Withdrawal Agreement.

Thirdly, the British Government should request a three month extension of Article 50 to 29 June 2019 in order to hold the referendum and the European Union should agree to such a request.

Fourthly, the referendum should take place on the day of the European elections, Thursday 23 May. The Electoral Commission is already preparing for the elections on that day and to add the referendum on the same day and therefore adding the referendum to the ballot papers is feasible. There should be a straight choice between leaving the EU on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and staying in the European Union.

If Britain votes to leave, it does so on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement that will already have been passed through Parliament. If Britain votes to stay, Article 50 is revoked, the Withdrawal Agreement falls and the MEP’s elected on 23 May will take up their seats.

Due to the prolonged negotiations, the relationship between Britain and the rest of the EU has become transactional. But from the citizens’ perspective we make the obvious point that Britain is still a member of the European Union until it leaves. We should actually be seeking a unanimity of approach rather than 27 against 1.

True leadership and statesmanship is now required to resolve the crisis.

This demands putting all the problems on the table and resolving them together – as a family, the European family, even at the moment when one family member wants to leave. If we all take a deep breath and put the citizens at the centre of our reflections, what do we see?

We see the impossibility of a no deal Brexit.

We see that withholding consent to the Withdrawal Agreement manufactures uncertainty. We see that the European elections must take place because we cannot abolish democracy if Britain does not leave the EU on 29 March. We see the disruption to European institutions if Brexit is delayed beyond the end of June. We see the common sense in giving the citizens a final say once the terms have been decided and passed into law. We see the practicality of holding the referendum (and let us call it a referendum for that is what it is) on the same day as the European elections.

Our approach has the advantage that all parties are called on to do something they may not wish to do.

  • Labour will need to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement.
  • The Government will have to grant a second referendum.
  • The European Union will have to offer an extension of Article 50
  • Each of these concessions has mitigating circumstances.
  • The Withdrawal Agreement falls if Britain votes to stay in a second referendum
  • The Withdrawal Agreement is implemented if Britain votes to leave because it will have been passed into law before the referendum takes place.
  • The three month extension means that the process is completed before the new European Parliament convenes for its first session in Strasbourg on 2 July.

Five million citizens remain teetering on the cliff edge and sometimes it can also feel like we are whistling in the wind.

We urge you to create certainty for the five million citizens teetering on the cliff edge.

Cut the Gordian knot: pass the withdrawal agreement, hold a second referendum on the day of the European elections and give us and others the opportunity to regain control of our lives, free of the anxiety and uncertainty created by the current impasse.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Arapis, Cardiff
Dimitris Ballas, Groningen
James Bekles, London
Roger Casale, Florence
Cornel Carausu, London
Christopher Clannachan Amsterdam – Randstad
Tamara Flanagan OBE, London
Maximos Giannis, Maastricht
Nishan Dzhingozyan, London
Nick Gouvalas, Maastricht
Barbara Hawkins, Middlesborough
Jean-Baptiste Horhant , Strasbourg
Kristiana Kuneva, Sofia
Jane Morrice, Bangor (NI)
Owain Gardner, Glasgow
Oliver Moore, Groningen
Gary Paterson, Glasgow
Aurélien Pommier, Bruges
Bart Roelofs, Groningen
Rupert Slade, Budapest
Nicolaus Paul Sparrow-James , Copenhagen
Esther Tak, Dordrecht
Lennard van Otterloo, London
Olivier Védrine, Kiev
Edward Vickery, Limassol
Monika Weigand Frankfurt am Main
Chris Wherry Maribor, Slovenia
Anna Yeadell, Groningen

Should you wish to add your name to the campaign, you can follow this link here.

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    1. We expats need parliamentary advocates, at least one in the House of Commons and at least one in the House of Lords. Further, is there a chance of one of the major signatories figuring on one or another national list for the European elections?

    2. Please let’s break this deadlock and give the people a final say before it’s too late.

    3. I was grossly misinformed, and unwittingly voted for a paradox. The pledges that where made are politically, financially, and legally impossible.
      Destroying my country was absolutely not my intention.

    4. I have signed and a agree in principle. One stone seems to have been unturned though. The EU has no provision for a member state delaying its Euro-elections. Bearing in mind that if a referendum was held on 23 May it would be at least 25 of May before the result would be formally and officially confirmed, if exceptional circumstances such as extreme weather or recounts caused any kind of delay, that could also be a little later. Then the withdrawal of notice to leave the EU was withdrawn, that would need to go before parliament to be presented and confirmed, if not even debated and voted on. One of the problems with the UK is that there is no constitutional or legal provision for referendums, thus the dilemma of June 2016 could present itself in another form such as parliament saying that the margin of majority does not justify accepting that as definitive, therefore Brexit must go ahead. So, for such a referendum to go ahead it needs to have legally binding parameters thus be able to accept even a single vote majority or a set threshold accordingly. More time gone, perhaps even wasted at which the present government has become expert. In the case of a remain vote and parliamentary acceptance of the result and withdrawal of notice to leave the EU comes the election of MEPs and from the looks of what is happening at present, the recruitment and deployment of civil servants to the EU. Both consume time because of the archaic nature of the electoral and appointments systems in the UK. For the election of MEPs time would have to be allowed for candidatures, campaigns and then the election that are remarkably slow, which is exactly the reason the excuse that a referendum could not be held in time that has been bandied about some time ago.
      Therefore, if the UK comes to a point where a referendum is allowed within an extension approved by the EU, this campaign should demand that the EU become the organising and supervisory body for that referendum. There is an error above when it says that there is a vote already and that a referendum could be added to the vote for EU representation in that unless the UK asks for an extension that allows for election of MEPs on 23 May, which I doubt the UK government would do, that it would be an entirely separate election. However, the advantage there is that the proposition that the EU is used as a ‘neutral’ adjudicator works far better than allowing parliament and the Electoral Commission to set a referendum with politically manipulated questions, then allow campaigning that would ensure the result would simply confirm and add justification to the present claims of ‘the will of the people’. Can this be organised by 23 May? I suspect not, then the summer recess would be upon us too quickly in all probability, therefore a far more realistic alternative needs to be set out. There, I would suggest, they should aim toward a referendum a very short time into the newly convened EU political year as ‘Plan B’ which would be far harder for the UK government to dismiss as impossible.
      I have so little trust in the UK government, indeed parliament broadly speaking, that whilst I fully endorse this initiative my intuition is that it is too weak as it stands and has little chance of even fair consideration by either of the major UK parties without a far stronger argument that would include an alternative that would at least reduce the ability of the executive to summarily dismiss it.

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