The General Secretary of the German Social Democrats, led by former European Parliament president Martin Schulz, has said she wants Britain to hold a second referendum on EU membership now that it knows “what a Brexit would mean”.
Katarina Barley, one of the most senior leaders of the party which operates as the main rivals to Angela Merkel’s ‘centre-right’ coalition, said: “When the referendum was held, nobody really knew what it would be about — not the British people, not even the political class.”
Born to a British father, the 48-year-old politician claimed: “A lot of people wrongfully thought that Britain could get a deal like Switzerland or Norway without the inconveniences, without accepting the rulings of the European Court of Justice, without free movement of labour.”
In Barley’s view, “Now [the British] know that this isn’t the case … they should be asked [to vote again] on this.”
Revisiting an old argument of the so-called Remain resistance led by former prime minister Tony Blair, former European Commissioner and New Labour heavyweight Peter Mandelson, and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, among others, Barley claimed the Brexit vote “was taken at a point where no one had the slightest idea what they were talking about, [and] support for a second referendum is growing”.
According to the latest polling from YouGov, however, only 21 per cent of Britons believe “the government should ignore the result of the referendum or seek to overturn it in a second referendum”, while sixty-nine per cent wish to see Brexit go ahead.
— YouGov (@YouGov) March 29, 2017
This has not prevented figures such as Blair from pledging to fight against the result.
“Yes, the British people voted to leave Europe, and I agree the will of the people should prevail,” he told Open Britain, the rebrand of the official Remain campaign. “I accept, right now, there is no widespread appetite to rethink.”
He added, however, that voters have the “right to change their minds” and that, “Our mission is to persuade them to do so.”