British citizens from 160 grassroots groups across the country have co-signed a letter asking EU leaders for a two-year extension to Article 50.
Calling themselves “a network of citizens’ groups from all over the United Kingdom”, the writers appealed to the leaders to agree to the extension if current Brexit negotiations break down and no deal is available, forcing the prime minister to make the request.
“We know, from speaking with local people, that public opinion has swung away from Brexit,” they wrote. “People in our towns and cities are saying they want it to stop.”
They added that the UK government is “increasingly reckless and uncrupulous” over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and warned of the effects both on the UK and the EU.
The group says that their position is backed up by their “constant high-street and town-hall contacts with citizens and community leaders, as well as discussions with MPs and MEPs”.
The letter can be read in full below.
The Benn Act, which comes into force if no deal is agreed, only requires the prime minister to request an extension of three months, while some EU politicians have spoken of an extension into the summer.
But the letter makes the unusual step of requesting another two years.
“The aim would be to reach, without undue delay but also without the coercive pressures and manipulations of an over-restrictive deadline, a clear and informed national consensus on the way ahead,” said the group in a separate statement.
The letter goes some way to demonstrate the mistrust the pro-EU movement has in the actions of the current UK government, such as the unlawful prorogation of parliament.
“The letter … is critical of the UK government’s flagrant contempt for the rule of law, parliament and democracy,” said the group’s accompanying statement to the press.
“The letter signals that the majority of UK citizens are deeply shocked by these constitutional violations.
“UK citizens strongly reject Johnson’s undemocratic effort to coerce our country into a forced and disastrous no-deal exit from the EU, for the benefit only of a wealthy clique, pursuing a hostile, populist, ideological agenda.”
EU heads of state are currently divided as to whether or not to grant the expected extension, with French president Emmanuel Macron sounding increasingly negative.
Public opinion polls also show the tide of EU citizens’ opinions changing against an extension, suggesting people on the continent are as tired of the subject as UK voters are.
WATCH: Go no deal or revoke Article 50 if you can’t agree a deal, says MacronMORE: Majority of EU citizens polled don’t want to extend Article 50Appeals to other EU states on the question of an extension have also been made on the Brexiteer side of the argument – notably from UK MP Daniel Kawkczynski who claims to have regularly petitioned the Polish government to veto the request.
Brexiteers also pin their hopes on a veto from Viktor Orbán, the hard-right Hungarian prime minister.
14 October 2019
Dear President Tusk, Chief Negotiator Barnier, and members of the European Parliament Brexit Steering Group,
We write to urge you to give a positive answer to the expected UK request for an extension of the Article 50 notification period. Your response will have profound implications for our country and for the European Union for generations to come.
We are a network of citizens groups from all over the United Kingdom. We know, from speaking with local people, that public opinion has swung away from Brexit. People in our towns and cities are saying they want it to stop. The depth of economic and social damage that it will cause, and is already causing, is widely understood. We are appalled that our increasingly reckless and unscrupulous government threatens to push us into a dangerous ‘no deal’ Brexit that will benefit only a few elite private interests, yet actually threatens the lives of ordinary people.
But let us be clear: Brexit, in any form, will be harmful for our country and for Europe as a whole. We urge you not to rush into a decision that may be regretted.
You have shown enormous patience over the past three years, and we thank you for keeping the door open for us.
We are grateful that the European Parliament has signalled its willingness to offer a further extension in order to avoid a disastrous ‘no deal’ Brexit, and we appreciate the positive signal from the Finnish presidency also to consider an extension. However, three months to 31 January will not be long enough to resolve our national crisis. We call on you to offer a long extension of at least two years.
This length of time would create a period of relative calm and stability that would allow us to resolve the matter of Brexit via our own constitutional processes, that could include a general election or going back to the people. It would also allow the EU to focus on other critical issues such as combatting climate change, without the interruption of our government’s ‘eleventh hour’ requests.
The Brexit referendum vote was the outcome of a corrupt campaign, fed by lies. It was advisory, not binding. The events of the past weeks have shown how Brexit is not only a threat to our economy, and to citizens’ rights, but also an attack on our democratic institutions.
We are campaigning to defend those institutions, and especially the principles of rule of law, parliamentary sovereignty and an independent judiciary. We applaud those MPs who are standing up for us in the face of a mendacious and hostile prime minister. We are right behind the lawyers and campaigners who fought the silencing of our parliament all the way to the Supreme Court.
Please do not give up on us. Do not force us to exit the EU due to the shameful behaviour of our current minority government. Give us time, so that we can stay at the heart of Europe and play our part in building a better future for all.
Richard Wilson, Chair, Grassroots for Europe
CC: Permanent Representations of the EU27 Member States
Grassroots for Europe is a network of over 150 pro-European campaign groups located in towns and cities across the United Kingdom. Our network extends to groups that represent the interests of British citizens living in other EU Member States, and EU27 citizens in the UK. Our groups are absolutely committed to keeping the UK in the European Union. They are supported by many thousands of ordinary people, who include both British and EU27 citizens.
160 group chairs and organisers have signed this letter:
Wayne Childs Abingdon People’s Vote
Lynda McKenna Angels for Europe
Emma Knaggs Bath for Europe
Robert Wilkin Bedfordshire for Europe
Peter Leisupe Berkshire for Europe
Frederika Roberts Best for Doncaster
Terry Enga & Adrian Betteridge Bracknell for Europe
Simon Blakey Bradford for Europe
Jackie Charlton Brecon & Radnor for Europe
John Moffett Bremain in Spain
Karin Ulukut Barrett Brent4Europe
Robert Evans & Allison Felton Bridgend for Europe
Petra Kopp Brighton and Hove for EU
Alex Goulds Bromley4Europe
Paul Browne Cambridge Stays
Ian Morris Canterbury for Europe
Helen Wales Cardiff for Europe
Rich House Chandler’s Ford for Europe
Philip Cole Cheltenham for Europe
Noel McGlinchey Chester for Europe
David Webb Chipping Barnet for Europe
Phillip Kerle Cities of London and Westminster for Europe
Steve Wilkinson Colchester for Europe
Emmanuelle Brook Cornwall for Europe
Robert Whitfield Cotswolds for Europe
Maria Klos Croydon for Europe
Thomas Aled Canter Denbighshire For Europe
Andy Nash Derbyshire Dales & High Peak European Movement
Kate Freeman Devizes for EU
Tim Joyce & Jules Cavalier Dorset for Europe
Corinne Firket Ealingeuromove
Barry Parkin East Herts for Europe
Mark Nottingham East Kent European Movement
Martin Housden East London Network Against Brexit
Rachel Ashley & Caroline Anderson Eddisbury for Europe
Virginie Ganivet & Conrad Lawrence Ely for Europe
Sarah Dodgson Enfield for Europe
David Nickerson Esher & Walton European Movement
Admin EU Flag Mafia
Tom Pratt EU in Brum
Judith King EU in Walsall
Janet Hardy-Gould EUnity Lewes
David Rowen European Movement Portsmouth-Chichester Branch
Simon Ferrigno European Movement Derbyshire
Jennifer Monahan European Movement Hammersmith, Kensington, Chelsea, Fulham
Chris Foster European Movement Macclesfield & East Cheshire
Kathryn Fox European Movement Mendip
Gerard Burke European Movement Milton Keynes
Ross Houston Finchley and Golders Green for Europe
Simon Jones Flintshire for Europe
John Taylerson FoD for Europe
Clare Scanlan & Dee Barnfield Glasgow Loves EU
Lynn Lloyd Gloucester for Europe
Patsy Ellis Grantham for A Peoples Vote
Stephen Cocks Gwent for Europe
Ian Berridge Hampshire European Movement
Richard Scott Harpenden for Europe
Jane Keane Havering4EU
David Tate Hemel Hempstead Peoples Vote
Richard Logue Hendon for Europe
Guy Wilkinson Herefordshire for Europe
Andy Nash Hope for Europe
Clive LaPensée & Pat Maguire Hull & East Yorkshire for Europe
Elena Remigi In Limbo
Nick Turton Islington In Europe
Rosie Price Kirklees for Europe
Jon Moore Lancaster for Europe
Harriet Pahl Ledbury for Europe
Richard Wilson Leeds for Europe
Dr Carol Weaver Leicestershire & Rutland European Movement
Gareth Steel Lewisham East for Europe
Tony Lloyd Lewisham is for Europe
Tim Lund Lewisham West & Penge in Europe
John Bland Lincolnshire European Movement
Brenda Ashton Liverpool for Europe
Richard Newcombe London4Europe
Katherine Tebby, Anu Chawla & John Barron Maidenhead for EU
Cath Moss Manchester for Europe
Wiebke Rueterjans Merseyside for Europe
Steve Boyd Montgomeryshire for Europe
Jerry Fenner New Forest for Europe
Dr Kate Hammer NoDust
Rob Colwell Norfolk For Europe
Beverley Lawson North Dorset for Europe
Brian Milne North East & Northern Lincolnshire European Movement
Louise Brown & Yvonne Wancke North East for Europe
Philip Nield North Hampshire for Europe
Eric Gates North Somerset 4 Europe
Lisa Pissochet North West for Europe
Mario Caves North Wilts and Chippenham for EU
Richard Sadler North Yorkshire for Europe
Richard Alexander Northants European Movement
David Childs Notts European Movement
Caroline Kuipers Open Britain Berkshire
Anne-Marie Simpson Open Britain Didcot
Sarah O’Keefe Open Britain Hampstead
Joseph Wells Open Britain Peterborough
Andrew Bannerman & Liz Snaith Open Britain Shrewsbury
Peter Honour Open Britain Sutton
Anne-Marie Simpson Open Britain Wallingford
Peter Burke & Jo Steele Oxford for Europe
Robert Brignall Peoples Vote Buckingham
Andrew Brown People’s Vote Coventry
James Brooks People’s Vote Wantage
Alicia Marshall People’s Vote Witney
Susannah Rae Perth for Europe
Caro Breton Postcards2MPs
Olga Gomez-Cash Preston for Europe
Sharon Leclercq-Spooner ProEuropa
Kim Croydon Ribble Valley for EU
Rich House Romsey Better in Europe
Gavin Glasby Rotherham for Europe
Clare Tawney & Hadrian Cook Salisbury for Europe
Cahir O’Kane SE Cambs for Europe
Ginny Smith Seahaven Staying In
Graham Rawlings Selby for Europe
Chrissa Woodhouse & Magdalena Williams Sevenoaks Swanley & Tonbridge in Europe (SSTIE )
Mary Seneviratne Sheffield for Europe
Ben Chambers Sixteen Million Rising
Matthew Taylor Slough for Europe
Steve Bray Sodem
Paul Adams Somerset Loves Europe
Louise Houghton South & West Yorkshire for Europe
Brigid Gardner South Southwark for Europe
William Harrison South West London for Europe
Suzanne and Clive Hillman Southampton for Europe
John Gaskell South-West Surrey European Movement
Mike Ottewell Staffs 4 Europe (North)
David Hobbins Staffs4EU (South)
Richard Cleaver Stamford for Europe
Victoria Lee Stirling4Europe
Evelyn Leslie Stockport for Europe
Laura Hartman Stop Brexit Ltd
Jonathan Baker Stratford4Europe
Alan White Streatham for Europe
Andrew Niblett Stroud 4 Europe
Colin Hopkins Suffolk EU Alliance
Paul Willner Swansea for Europe
Steve Rouse Swindon for Europe
Cate Cody Tewkesbury for Europe
Phillipa Tawn Thame for Europe
Ruth St John Tunbridge Wells IN (TWIN)
Sally Stephenson Vale of Glamorgan for Europe
Stuart Thomson Veterans for Europe
Cliff Dartnall Vote for Europe
Geraint Talfan Davies Wales for Europe
Richard Newcombe Waltham Forest EM
Graham Gowland Warrington for Europe
Joanne Callaghan Weaver Vale for Europe
Tom Brown, Burkhard Kloss & Carole Luck Welwyn Hatfield for Europe
Helen Holdsworth Wessex for Europe
Ken Lamden West Lancashire for Europe
Michael Lewent West Mercia European Movement
Susie Nicodemi Winchester for Europe
Patricia White Witney and West Oxfordshire People’s Vote Group
Juliet Lodge, Cathy Wigley & Susie Courtault Women for Europe
Stuart Thomson Worcestershire for Europe
Neal Cole Wrexham for Europe
Martin Brooks York for Europe