160 grassroots groups ask EU leaders to give the UK a two-year Brexit extension

PUBLISHED: 10:18 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:27 15 October 2019

Open Britain Hampstead, one of the groups that signed the letter, at a grassroots pro-EU event. Picture: Sarah O'Keefe/Open Britain Hampstead

Open Britain Hampstead, one of the groups that signed the letter, at a grassroots pro-EU event. Picture: Sarah O'Keefe/Open Britain Hampstead

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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.

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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 Macron

MORE: Majority of EU citizens polled don't want to extend Article 50

Appeals 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.

MORE: Taking back control? Tory MP asks Polish govt to veto Article 50 extension

FULL LETTER

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.

Yours sincerely,

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

(HKCF)

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

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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

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