Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Veteran (91) of Britain's entry into EU in 1970s urges People's Vote on Brexit

Protesters pull a float depicting Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings during an anti-Brexit march
Protesters pull a float depicting Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings during an anti-Brexit march

By Max McLean

A key player in Britain's first involvement in the European Union has called for a second Brexit referendum after attending his first protest march at the age of 91.

Uwe Kitzinger worked as an adviser to Winston Churchill's son-in-law Christopher Soames from 1973 to 1975 when Lord Soames became the first British vice-president of the European Commission.

Mr Kitzinger attended the People's Vote march in London on Saturday, and afterwards declared that the public were now better informed to make a choice.

"I do not see how the question of sovereignty over the issue of Europe can be settled without the people of this country having a say, now that they are much better informed, and now that there is actually a proposal," Mr Kitzinger said.

"We now see the beginnings of a transition to a destination, but it's very clear that the destination is meant to be one of national tribalism, and that is the beginning of the kind of international tensions which can so easily lead to war.

"It is the negation of all I stood for and all I worked for in my career, but that isn't the important thing. The important thing is what happens to my grandchildren and their children."

As well as having worked for Lord Soames, Mr Kitzinger served as the first British economist of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

He also wrote books which urged Britain to join the European Economic Community. The former president of the Oxford Union travelled from Oxford to London to attend the People's Vote march with friends and family, and described the scene on the streets as "a festival atmosphere... a joyous atmosphere".

Fundamentally, though, Mr Kitzinger made his feelings about Brexit clear, and took aim at a number of world leaders including Boris Johnson.

"I see Brexit as a blow against the cohesion of the world," he said. "All the institutions that were set up at the end of the Second World War - the World Bank, the United Nations itself - all these are under attack from Mr (Vladimir) Putin, and from him through Mr (Donald) Trump, and our present so-called Prime Minister.

"I have had a lifelong conviction that it matters desperately, if we want to keep peace and attain a wider prosperity in the world, for nations to pull together, not to pull each other apart."

Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart praised Saturday's crowd for "transforming" British politics. He was joined by other celebrities and politicians, including Sandy Toksvig, and Labour's shadow cabinet speaking at the People's Vote rally in Parliament Square.

Sir Patrick said the crowd has proven a second referendum was not the "pipe-dream" that opponents have described it as.

He said: "You haven't just filled a nice bar in north London, you have taken over an entire city. You haven't just impacted the Brexit debate, you have transformed British politics."

Many of the thousands outside the Palace of Westminster cheered as they learned Boris Johnson had lost a key Commons vote on his withdrawal agreement, withholding approval of the deal until the legislation to implement it is in place. Footage posted to social media showed Jacob Rees-Mogg and Andrea Leadsom being heckled by People's Vote demonstrators as they left Parliament under police escort.

The demonstrators could be heard shouting "shame" as Mr Rees-Mogg and his young son passed the protesters on Millbank.

Similarly, boos and shouts of "shame on you" were directed at Mrs Leadsom as she walked up the street surrounded by officers.

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson said of the abuse directed at Jacob Rees-Mogg: "This is not acceptable. Everyone has a right to their opinion. In these charged times, it's even more important that we should disagree well with one another - never resort to intimidation or yelling abuse. Hope Jacob, and especially his young son, are OK."

On the earlier march effigies of the Prime Minister had been held aloft by protesters at the demonstration, with some accompanied by their pets draped in EU flags.

One group of protesters spotted near Downing Street were pulling a float depicting Number 10 aide Dominic Cummings using Mr Johnson as a puppet.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph