Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 March 2020

Brexit: What next for the Remainers?

High-profile EU supporters were forced to give up the fight for a second referendum

More than three years after the 2016 Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom will finally leave the European Union at 11pm local time on Friday.

For the 52 per cent of voters who wanted Brexit, the day will be an opportunity to celebrate a victory that - at some points - looked like it would be reversed.

It seems unlikely the pro-EU voice will ever go away in the UK but it has been somewhat subdued by the resounding victory of Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in December.

Gina Miller

Gina Miller said she will return to campaigns that were put on the "back burner" because of Brexit. Reuters
Gina Miller said she will return to campaigns that were put on the "back burner" because of Brexit. Reuters

Businesswoman Gina Miller won two Supreme Court cases over Brexit, which resulted in the government having to be accountable to parliament over exiting the EU. Despite being at the receiving end of death and rape threats, Ms Miller campaigned for a second referendum and encouraged Remain supporters to vote tactically in elections.

She told The Guardian earlier this month that she would “go back to the campaigns I was involved in that were put on the back burner with Brexit”.

“Campaigns targeting the rise in domestic violence, the huge increase in violence against women on university campuses; and around special-needs provision, in particular for children approaching adulthood, who are increasingly locked away as if in prison. And then there is my ongoing work about transparency in the City and financial services, a lot of which I fear will now be scrapped.”

David Gauke

British politician David Gauke speaks at an event organised by the Vote for a Final Say campaign in December. AFP
British politician David Gauke speaks at an event organised by the Vote for a Final Say campaign in December. AFP

Former justice minister David Gauke resigned from his government post in protest against Mr Johnson’s Brexit plans. A few months later, He was expelled from the Conservatives by the prime minister for voting against a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit. While he supported Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May’s Brexit deal, he later campaigned for a second referendum during a failed re-election bid as an independent MP.

It appears Mr Gauke will not be attending any Brexit parties on Friday. He told the Daily Telegraph’s Christopher Hope he would be the guy saying “I think the music’s a bit loud. You can all go home”, adding that he would be enjoying a “full continental” breakfast on February 1.

But after that his path is unclear. He wrote on his website after losing his constituency seat that he believed that there was still “a yearning for the pragmatic politics of the centre-ground”.

“Not sure quite what the future holds for me but I’ll continue to make that case,” he wrote.

Magid Magid

Britain's MEP of the Green party Magid Magid packs his belongings in his office at the European Parliament in Brussels. AFP 
Britain's MEP of the Green party Magid Magid packs his belongings in his office at the European Parliament in Brussels. AFP 

Magid Magid came to prominence in 2018 when he became the youngest-ever Lord Major of Sheffield at the age of 29 and the first Muslim to hold the role. As a councillor for the British Green Party with a big social media presence, he has vocally campaigned for a second referendum.

The 30-year-old became an MEP in the European elections in May, a post which he had to give up on Friday as the UK left the EU. He told Politico that he would still lobby the EU “to demand real action” against anti-Muslim racism in the media and from politicians.

“As the UK leaves and the number of Muslim-identifying MEPs shrinks to an even smaller number, the time for change is now,” he told the publication.

Mr Magid said he would be throwing a party in Brussels on Thursday with “fun, games and Brit-rock” as well as an anti-Brexit orchestra.

Tony Blair

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair backed staying in the EU. EPA
Former UK prime minister Tony Blair backed staying in the EU. EPA

Tony Blair was one of two former prime ministers to come out in the Brexit debate on the side of remaining in the EU. However, Mr Blair’s intervention did not convince his former political party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn to do the same. Mr Corbyn backed a second referendum in the election but said he would stay neutral in such a vote.

Mr Blair has since signalled he will accept Brexit, saying after the election that “we must make the best of it”. He attended the 2020 UK-Africa Investment summit earlier this month and called for an Africa focus for post-Brexit Britain.

Updated: February 2, 2020 11:38 AM

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