To Brexit or not to Brexit?… A new British party inspired by French President Emmanuel Macron’s radical centrist movement has emphatically said “No” to the UK’s pending withdrawal from the European Union.
The newly formed Renew movement officially launched their campaign on February 19 to block any attempt by British Prime Minister Theresa May to follow through with the withdrawal process.
With just over 13 months to go until Britain is due to leave the EU, opponents of Brexit are trying to ride a growing tide of angry public discontent who fear the financial ramifications of the UK quitting the world’s most powerful economic bloc by exploring ways to stop what they call “the greatest crisis to hit Britain since World War II”.
The Renew Party – founded by former banker Chris Coghlan shortly after Macron’s centrist En Marche! movement unexpectedly propelled him to the French presidency last year – will target pro-Brexit lawmakers in constituencies with high levels of support for maintaining the UK’s EU membership.
Renew has so far received about £100,000 in donations, including £30,000 from a single lawyer and £20,000 from a restauranteur, according to a senior party official.
Renew now claims to have more than 450 applications from individuals who wish to stand as candidates for the 650-seat House of Commons.
“We intend to be tough on Brexit and tough on the causes of Brexit,” said James Torrance, the party’s strategy head. “We’ll pressure MPs to consider the national interest and put Remain back on the table in a vote on a final EU deal.”
Using the slogan “People from outside politics to renew Britain’s hope”, the party has yet to unveil any celebrity backers or high-profile defectors from the Brexit camp, but it has said it is open to discussions with sympathetic members from established parties.
Several campaigns have emerged in recent weeks calling for a re-run of the 2016 EU membership referendum, with a growing number of voters putting pressure on MPs to oppose a Brexit agreement.
One such group who goes by the moniker “Best for Britain” captured headlines earlier this month when it received a large donation from billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros, who made a fortune by betting against the British pound in 1992.
EU leaders, if unanimous in their vote, could allow Brexit to be delayed if there is enough political discontent in the UK on the eve of Brexit. That would still probably leave investors uncertain about the nature of the future trading relationship.
Among those who have called for Brexit to be halted are the UK’s last four prime ministers – Tony Blair, Sir John Major, David Cameron, and Gordon Brown – Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, and former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.