Hundreds of thousands of people opposed to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union have gathered to march through central London to demand a new referendum, with the deepening Brexit crisis threatening to sink Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership.
After three years of tortuous debate, it is still uncertain how, when or even if Brexit will happen as Mrs May tries to plot a way out of the nation’s gravest political crisis in at least a generation.
Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May is coming under pressure to quit after saying she might not put her Brexit deal to a third vote by MPs. She wrote to all MPs on Friday saying she will ditch plans to put the deal to another so-called meaningful vote if not enough MPs support it.
Mrs. May hinted on Friday she might not bring her twice-defeated EU divorce deal back to Parliament next week, leaving her Brexit strategy in meltdown.
UK media outlets are reporting that pressure is growing on Mrs May to resign. “It’s intolerable, the situation that we’re in, and I’m afraid Theresa’s the problem,” Anna Soubry, a pro-EU politician who left the Conservative party to join the Independent Group in February, told the BBC.
Marchers set off in central London with banners proclaiming “the best deal is no Brexit” and “we demand a People’s Vote” in what organisers said could be the biggest anti-Brexit protest yet.
While there was no official estimate of the numbers, campaign organisers said hundreds of thousands of people were in the crowd as it began to march.
Protester Phoebe Poole, 18, who was not old enough to vote in the 2016 referendum, said young people had gone to the protest “because we feel like our future has been stolen from us”. “It is our generation that is going to have to live with the consequences of this disaster.”
While the country and its politicians are divided over Brexit, most agree it is the most important strategic decision the United Kingdom has faced since World War II.
A petition to cancel Brexit gained 4 million signatures in just three days after Mrs May told the public “I am on your side” and urged politicians to get behind her deal.
In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 52 per cent, backed Brexit while 16.1 million, or 48 per cent, backed staying in the bloc.
But ever since, opponents of Brexit have been exploring ways to hold another referendum. Mrs. May has repeatedly ruled out holding another Brexit referendum, saying it would deepen divisions and undermine support for democracy.
Brexit supporters say a second referendum would trigger a major constitutional crisis. Some opinion polls have shown a slight shift in favour of remaining in the European Union, but there has yet to be a decisive change in attitudes.