Greenwich councillors lead Tory push for People’s Vote on EU departure

People's Vote march in October 2018
Clare and Davis are backing the People’s Vote campaigners (photo: Ashley van Haeften via Creative Commons)

Two Greenwich Conservative councillors have signed an open letter asking MPs to allow a new referendum on the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

Eltham South councillor Matt Clare started the initiative, signed by 47 councillors and local Conservative representatives, mostly from the south of England.

The letter was released before Theresa May’s unprecedented defeat in the House of Commons last night, when her proposed deal to leave the European Union on 29 May was voted down by a majority of 230 MPs.

It says: “Since June 2016 Britons have learned a lot about what is at stake in leaving the EU. Opinion has shifted significantly as people see the damage not just to our economy, but to social cohesion, security and our health service.” (See the full letter.)

Clare said: “No one could have tried harder than the Prime Minister to respect the 52% vote. However after two-and-a-half years of immense disruption to our country with no positive end in sight there has to be a reappraisal.

“It’s high time the British people gave their informed consent or formally called an end to Brexit so our country can return to its usual confident and vibrant self.”

Fellow Greenwich Conservative Charlie Davis (Eltham North) also signed the letter. He said: “With it seeming increasingly unlikely that there is a majority for any type of Brexit within the Commons, we believe it is important to return to the people to give them a final say on Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

“This letter reaffirms the commitment Cllr Clare and I made in full council supporting calls for the Government to hold a referendum on the deal.”

Opinion is divided among both Labour and Conservative councillors in Greenwich on the issue, mirroring the national picture. Clare and Davis were the only Tories to back a motion in Greenwich Council last year supporting the People’s Vote campaign, while several Labour councillors were allowed to leave ahead of the vote.

In last night’s vote in parliament, all but one of south-east London’s Labour MPs voted against May’s deal – Lewisham Deptford’s MP, Vicky Foxcroft, was a teller so did not vote. Of the Conservatives, Bob Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) supported May’s deal, as cabinet member James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup). Sir David Evenett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) and Sir Bob Stewart (Beckenham) voted against.

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