People's Vote was a United Kingdom campaign group that campaigned for a second referendum following the UK's Brexit vote to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016. The group was launched in April 2018 at which four Members of Parliament spoke, along with the actor Patrick Stewart and other public figures.
The June 2018 London protest
|Formation||15 April 2018|
The Electric Ballroom
Camden, England, UK
|Dissolved||31 January 2020|
|Purpose||Calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union|
|Subsidiaries||Open Britain (75%)|
In October 2019, there was a power struggle within the group. After the Conservative Party achieved an overall majority in the 2019 UK general election, the group announced that it would rebrand in 2020 to push for a fair deal following the UK's exit from the EU in January 2020.
In July 2017, the Parliament of the United Kingdom established an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on the UK's relations with the European Union. Co-chairs are Chuka Umunna MP (Liberal Democrats, formerly Labour and Change UK) and Anna Soubry MP (Change UK, formerly Conservative); the remaining members of the group are Caroline Lucas MP (Green), Jo Swinson MP (Liberal Democrats), Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru), Stephen Gethins MP (Scottish National Party), Ros Altmann (Conservative), Andrew Adonis (Labour), John Kerr (crossbench), Sharon Bowles (Liberal Democrats), and Dafydd Wigley (Plaid Cymru).
On 1 February 2018 The Guardian reported that a grassroots coordinating group (GCG) representing more than 500,000 members opposed to a hard Brexit had formed, with Umunna as its leader. Later that month it was reported that George Soros's Open Society Foundations had donated £182,000 to European Movement UK and £35,000 to Scientists for EU, two of the grassroot groups.
In March 2018, HuffPost reported that several pro-EU groups had moved into an office together in London's Millbank Tower in order to co-ordinate their campaign to retain strong links between Britain and the European Union. This was also reported to be in order to work alongside the APPG on EU Relations. Umunna commented, "In our democracy, it is vital that the people get their say on Brexit, rather than their elected representatives in Parliament being reduced to some rubber stamp for whatever plan Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Michael Gove have been putting together behind closed doors".
People's Vote formationEdit
People's Vote was launched at an event in London on 15 April 2018, at The Electric Ballroom in Camden. The event comprised Andy Parsons with MPs Chuka Umunna, Anna Soubry, Layla Moran, and Caroline Lucas speaking, as well as actor Patrick Stewart. Lord Adonis also attended the event.
On 23 June 2018, the second anniversary of the EU referendum, People's Vote organised a march and protest from Piccadilly to Parliament Square in Central London. Speakers included actor Tony Robinson (who criticised the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for not attending the march), business owner Gina Miller, Liberal Democrats Leader Vince Cable, Labour MP David Lammy, Lucas and Soubry. An estimated 100,000 people attended the march.
The Independent wrote an editorial on 24 July 2018 calling for a "final say on the Brexit deal". Over the next two weeks the television presenter Gary Lineker, the satirist Armando Iannucci, broadcaster Gavin Esler, comedian Rory Bremner, and former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell also announced their support for the campaign.
In August 2018 the co-founder of Superdry, Julian Dunkerton, donated £1m to the campaign. In the same month the Press Association reported that, according to a leaked memo, People's Vote were attempting to secure a motion calling for Labour to continue to support a second referendum.
In September 2018, BBC News reported that the Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston had given her support to the campaign. She was followed by Phillip Lee and former Government Whip Guto Bebb. Other Conservative MPs who openly support the People's Vote campaign are former Education Secretary Justine Greening and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve.
2018 People's Vote MarchEdit
On 20 October 2018, protestors marched from Park Lane to Parliament Square in support of a referendum on the final Brexit deal. The march was started by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and featured speeches by Delia Smith and Steve Coogan. Former Downing Street Director of Communications Alastair Campbell supported the march, saying "the Brexit that was campaigned successfully for [...] doesn't exist". The organisers of the march said that almost 700,000 people took part. Police stated that they were unable to estimate the numbers involved and a later police debriefing document prepared by Greater London Authority estimated the number to be 250,000. Another estimate by Full Fact gave around 450,000.
2018 Central Hall rallyEdit
On 13 November 2018, a rally organised by the People's Vote and Best for Britain groups at 3 days' notice filled the Methodist Central Hall in London. The rally was introduced by Andy Parsons and featured an interview of Jo Johnson by Gary Lineker, and speeches by MPs Anna Turley, Justine Greening, Ian Blackford, Caroline Lucas, Layla Moran, Dominic Grieve, Liz Saville Roberts and David Lammy.
March 2019 People's Vote MarchEdit
On 23 March 2019, organisers said that over a million people took part in the Put It to the People march in London in support of a second Brexit referendum; independent estimates by experts in crowd estimation, researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University, put the figure between 312,000 and 400,000 people. A rally at the end of the march was addressed by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Conservative peer Michael Heseltine, former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and MPs Jess Phillips, Justine Greening and David Lammy. An 800 square metre crowd flag was unfolded on Parliament Square revealing a 2012 quote from Brexiteer David Davis saying “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy”, organised by anti-Brexit campaign group Led by Donkeys.
October 2019 People's Vote MarchEdit
A Let Us Be Heard march took place on 19 October 2019, coinciding with an historic Saturday sitting of Parliament to debate Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest proposed Withdrawal Agreement. Organisers claimed that one million people took part in 19 October 2019's march, although no independent verification of that figure exists at the time of writing. At the march's conclusion a crowd flag with the message "Get ready for a People's Vote" was unfolded on Parliament Square, as part of Led by Donkeys' satirical campaign mocking the government's own Get ready for Brexit campaign.
October 2019 internal power struggleEdit
On 27 October 2019, Roland Rudd, the founder of Finsbury PR and the chair of Open Britain - just one of five organisations under the People's Vote umbrella announced he wanted to sack James McGrory and Tom Baldwin, as the campaign's director and director of communications. More than 40 staff members walked out in protest at this decision and Rudd's effort to impose Patrick Heneghan as the campaign's interim chief executive. At a subsequent staff meeting Rudd was criticised as a city PR man who had rarely been seen in the offices and a motion of no confidence in his role was passed by 40 votes to 3. Earlier, Baldwin accused Rudd of taking a "wrecking ball" to a successful campaign through a "boardroom coup" while failing to consult other organisations in the campaign such as the European Movement and For our Future's Sake. Rudd later resigned as chair of Open Britain but retained control of money and data through a new holding company he had formed for the purpose called Baybridge UK. Alastair Campbell, a former head of strategy and communications in Tony Blair's Downing Street, accused Rudd of putting his personal status ahead of efforts to stop Brexit through a new referendum.
The campaign is a collaboration between several groups. They use a campaign office based in Millbank central London, apart from Wales for Europe which is based in Wales. The European Movement UK and Britain for Europe also have roughly 150 local campaign groups.
List of collaborating groupsEdit
Minor groups which once worked alongside the People's Vote campaign included Britain for Europe, Infacts, Scientists for EU.
- Liberal Democrats
- Green Party of England and Wales
- Scottish Green Party
- Green Party in Northern Ireland
- Peace Party
- Renew Britain
- National Health Action Party
- Radical Party
- Scottish National Party
- Plaid Cymru
- Mebyon Kernow
- Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
- Social Democratic and Labour Party
- Women's Equality Party
- UK European Union Party
- The Independent Group for Change
- Scottish Labour
- Labour Movement for Europe
- London Labour
- UK EPP
- Left Unity
- Advance Together
Co-chair of Leave Means Leave, Richard Tice, branded the campaign a "losers' vote" following the London march in October 2018. Chris Bickerton, a lecturer in politics at the University of Cambridge, argued that a second referendum advocated by the campaign undermines principles of parliamentary democracy. In an opinion piece in The Guardian, he argued that the campaign promotes the idea that Leave voters in the 2016 referendum failed to understand what was at stake, a view that he characterised as elitist. Owen Jones has offered a left-wing critique of the movement, particularly pointing out that despite Labour's policies and actions to support a second referendum, People's Vote still routinely attacked its former leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, indicating a potential ulterior motive in stymying progressive voices in the United Kingdom.
People's Vote commissioned a report into the economic effects of former Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The report, published late November 2018 by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), stated that the deal 'will cost UK £100bn' a year by 2030.
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The main groups opposed to a hard Brexit are joining forces under the leadership of Chuka Umunna to push for the public’s voice to be heard on Theresa May’s final deal to leave the EU
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Given everything that has happened and what we know now, it should not be left to 650 politicians in London to decide our future – 65 million people’s voices have to be heard. It’s the only way to break the deadlock. That is why The Independent is right to be calling for a vote on the final Brexit deal.
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- Staff writer (19 August 2018). "Brexit vote campaign gets £1m from Superdry co-founder". BBC News. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
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- Staff writer (25 September 2018). "Labour conference: Members vote to keep referendum option open". BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
In his party conference speech, the shadow Brexit secretary [Keir Starmer] said all options should be kept on the table, including a so-called People's Vote.
- Sparrow, Andrew (25 September 2018). "Labour delegates vote overwhelmingly for Brexit motion backing second referendum - as it happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
13:50 Lunchtime summary - Sir Keir Starmer, has mobilised Labour support for a second referendum on Brexit in a speech... he declared: "Nobody is ruling out remain as an option."
- Wheeler, Brian (11 September 2018). "The Brexit factions reshaping UK politics". BBC News. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
The Dominic Grieve gang... Former Education Secretary Justine Greening is the most senior Conservative to have called for a referendum on the final Brexit deal. She was backed by Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry, and another prominent backbencher, Sarah Wollaston, has also joined the People's Vote campaign along with Phillip Lee and Guto Bebb
- Vox Pops on the march (20 October 2018). What really happened at the anti-Brexit rally in London (Video). Australian News Network via YouTube. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- Gallagher, Charlotte (20 October 2018). "People's Vote march: Hundreds of thousands attend London protest". BBC News. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
- Helm, Toby; Savage, Michael; Courea, Eleni (20 October 2018). "Almost 700,000 march to demand 'people's vote' on Brexit deal". The Observer. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
The centre of London ground to a halt as an estimated 700,000 people from all over the UK marched peacefully on parliament to demand a second referendum on Brexit.
- Busby, Mattha (20 October 2018). "People's Vote march: '700,000' rally for new Brexit referendum – as it happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
Organisers claim that 700,000 people attended.
- Malnick, Edward (5 January 2019). "People's Vote march head-count less than half as high as claimed". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
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- Walker, Peter (13 November 2018). "Public has been duped, Jo Johnson tells Gary Lineker at rally for new Brexit vote". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
- Tobin, Olivia (13 November 2018). "Viewers baffled as Gary Lineker interviews Jo Johnson on Brexit at People's Vote rally". Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
- Forrest, Adam; Rahim, Zamira (23 March 2019). "Brexit march: '1 million' Put It To The People protesters stage historic rally for a second referendum". The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
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- "There almost certainly weren't a million people on the People's Vote march". Full Fact. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
- Staff writer (23 March 2019). "Sturgeon joins London People's Vote march". BBC News. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
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- "Brexit protesters unfurl giant banner mocking David Davis". The Independent. 23 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
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- Rahim, Zamira (19 October 2019). "Brexit march: Brexit: 'One million' protesters demand second referendum as Boris Johnson loses key vote". The Independent.
- Griggs, Ian (4 November 2019). "People's Vote campaign staff strike back against Finsbury's Roland Rudd following sackings". PR Week. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
- Fletcher, Martin (20 November 2019). "How People's Vote destroyed itself". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
- Syal, Rajeev (15 November 2019). "Roland Rudd exits People's Vote amid continuing rancour". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
- Campbell, Alastair (23 November 2019). "How a PR guru hijacked the People's Vote campaign". The Spectator. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
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- "Home page". walesforeurope.org. Wales for Europe. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
Wales For Europe is a partner organisation of Open Britain
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- Staff writer (23 June 2018). "Best for Britain at the March for a People's Vote". bestforbritain.org. Best for Britain. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
- Proctor, Kate (15 October 2019). "Lib Dems in renewed push for second Brexit referendum vote". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
- "Green Party says case for the People's Vote is now overwhelming". The Green Party. 27 May 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
- "Brexit: Scottish Green Party formally back People's Vote campaign". The Scotsman. 20 October 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
- McCurry, Cate (14 September 2019). "Hundreds of people attend People's Vote rally in Belfast". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
- Bailey, Clare (15 September 2019). "People's Vote a must following Government Brexit deal defeat". The Green Party Northern Ireland. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
- @PeacePartyUK (23 June 2018). "Peace Party asks you to consider signing the People's Vote Petition to demand a vote on the Brexit deal. We, the people, have the democratic right to determine our own future - SIGN THE PETITION: www.peoples-vote.uk/petition #PeoplesVote #PeoplesVoteMarch" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Staff writer (21 October 2018). "The People's Vote March for the Future - Renew Party". renewparty.org.uk. Renew Britain. Archived from the original on 21 October 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
- Ashman, Alex (12 November 2018). "NHA AGM passes motion supporting People's Vote". NHA Party. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
- @radicalpartyuk (11 November 2019). "Just made a donation to People's Vote" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Voters are not prisoners of the Referendum". The Radical Party. 6 February 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
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- Cole, Dick (16 January 2019). "It is clear from the inability of the Westminster Parliament to find a way forward, that the people of the United Kingdom should be given a say on what should happen next through a People's Vote". Mebyon Kernow - The Party for Cornwall. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
- @MebyonKernow (17 November 2018). "Mebyon Kernow members overwhelmingly back People's Vote at #MKConference2018" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- "Conference 2018 Motion Outcomes". womensequality.org.uk. Women's Equality Party. 9 September 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2019. Text. and image of WEP co-founder Catherine Mayer at People's Vote rally at Parliament (in WEP jumper and tan, peaked hat).
- "Letter to Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP supporting #PeoplesVote". 4freedomsparty.eu. UK European Union Party. 15 November 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
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Since then, the group has been a vocal supporter of the "People's Vote" campaign, calling for another referendum on Brexit.
- Schofield, Kevin (8 June 2019). "Pressure on Jeremy Corbyn as Scottish Labour backs 'people's vote' and staying in EU". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
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- "London Mayor Sadiq Khan to speak at People's Vote March for the Future on Saturday". People's Vote. 16 October 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
- "London Assembly restates call for People's Vote". London City Hall. 17 January 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
- "Letter to Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP supporting #PeoplesVote". 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP). 15 November 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
- @LeftUnityUK (19 October 2018). "Join us for the People's Vote March: make the case for Another Europe" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @AnnabelMullin (9 October 2019). "What a day for a People's Vote March! @peoplesvote_uk #BrexitChaos" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @AnnabelMullin (1 December 2019). "There is zero chance of a Labour majority, a hung parliament could give us a new referendum based on Boris' 'Deal' or remain and then we could actually get Brexit done...away with" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Learn more". Advance Together. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
And, despite the UK’s current trajectory, we will continue to work towards a future anchored in the security and prosperity afforded by full membership of the European Union.
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- Hantzsche, Arno; Kara, Amit; Young, Garry (26 November 2018). The Economic Effects of the Government's Proposed Brexit Deal. London: National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Pdf.
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