Chuka Umunna launches coalition to fight Hard Brexit

PUBLISHED: 11:23 02 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:24 23 March 2018

Labour MP Chuka Umunna

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Labour MP Chuka Umunna has launched a coalition of forces including The New European to fight a Hard Brexit and push for the public to get a say on Theresa May’s final deal to leave the EU.

The Grassroots Coordinating Group, made up of bodies representing more than half a million members, will come together as polls suggest public opinion is moving towards holding a second referendum on the deal negotiated by the prime minister.

It includes pro-Remain rebel and Conservative MP Anna Soubry, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson.

Mr Umunna, a former shadow business secretary frozen out under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, said it had become increasingly clear that anti-Brexit campaigners needed to put their differences aside and work together in the fight to put Mrs May's eventual deal to the public.

He said: “It’s been a joint effort.

"Our challenge in the pro-European movement was bringing those people who don’t want to see Brexit happen at all together with those who accept it may happen but want a soft Brexit.

“What unites everybody is they want the people to have a say on the form of Brexit. You could argue there was a mandate from the 2016 referendum for us to leave the EU, a majority of people who participated voted that way.

"But what we don’t know and the thing for which we have no mandate was how we leave the EU and the form of Brexit we end up with.

“All of the groups are united in their determination that the people have got to have a place at the table in this process and it should not be dictated by a ministerial elite in Westminster.”

The coalition includes The New European, the all-party parliamentary group on EU relations, Open Britain, the European Movement, InFacts, Scientists for EU, Healthier IN the EU, Best for Britain and a number of others.

Mrs May has reluctantly conceded that Parliament will get a "meaningful vote" on the final deal her government agrees with the EU, but Mr Umunna said there could then be different ways for allowing the public’s voice to be heard.

He said: “For some people it is ensuring their Parliamentarian isn’t sidelined in this process.

"For other people they would want the people getting a final say through a general election.

"My own personal view is we should be open to the people having a final say on the deal.”

Even leading leave campaigners such as former Ukip leader Nigel Farage and the pro-Hard Brexit Leave.EU group have suggested publicly in recent weeks that there could be another referendum.

Mr Umunna said public mood had not shifted conclusively towards a second vote, but added: “There has not been a huge shift yet, but the tectonic plates are moving.

"And given the volatility of British politics, who knows where we will be in May and who knows where we will be in the autumn?”.

He said the group was primarily a grassroots organisation but its support base involved MPs from Labour, the Conservatives, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru.

Ms Soubry said: “It is not for us to undo this EU referendum result, and we cannot. It has to be the people, and this has to be led by the people.

"The people are entitled not just to know the facts about Brexit but to have a say.”

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