Anti-Brexit campaigner Lord Adonis declared the government’s calamitous day in parliament on Tuesday a ‘decisive move towards a people’s vote’ at a meeting in Wimbledon.
The former Labour minister delivered a rallying speech to a crowd of around 100 campaigners at Wimbledon Park Hall on Tuesday night, just hours after Theresa May’s government were ‘humiliated’ by losing three crucial votes in the House of Commons.
Lord Adonis compelled those in attendance to ‘keep up the pressure’ and called for a ‘popular front’ of cooperation between different parties.
He said: “It’s now clear that we can choose to stay in the EU without further negotiations. It’s also clear that Theresa May has lost control of parliament.
“The question is what happens now? I think there’s only one credible choice and that’s a people’s vote with the option to remain. We have a pathway to winning. I can see the way to winning. But we are not there yet.”
The event was jointly organised by the Lambeth and Wandsworth & Merton branches of the European Movement UK – a nationwide network of groups campaigning for a second Brexit referendum.
Lord Adonis said: “I’m hoping to give confidence to all of the campaigners for the People’s Vote that we can win and seeking to convert those who voted to leave two years ago.”
One of the main criticisms levelled at the People’s Vote campaign is that a second vote would undermine democracy and betray Brexit voters.
“The point I make all the time is the people cannot betray the people. We’re saying the people should make the decision and there can’t be anything more democratic than that,” Lord Adonis said.
“Just as when you buy a house you get the survey done. A large proportion of house sales fall through when you realise you’ve got dry rot, the neighbours from hell, or that the roof is falling. We are doing exactly the same as a country now.
“People couldn’t vote on the whole deal and knowing what it meant for them two years ago because it didn’t exist until now. Now that it does exist we have to decide as a country whether we are going to adopt it or not.”
The former infrastructure tsar, who resigned from the National Infrastructure Commission in December 2017 over May’s handling of negotiations, said he expected Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party’s non-committal stance on Brexit to change.
He said: “The fundamental problem Jeremy has with the EU is that it’s not a Latin American liberation movement. It doesn’t immediately get Jeremy’s juices going.
“But my view is that we will get Labour support for the referendum and Jeremy will be out there campaigning for it.”
Green Party member Alban Thurston, 61, said: “Today is yet another crack in this iceberg of immobility. The incoherencies of Brexit really are coming to the fore. The whole iceberg is crumbling into the sea. These developments have brought a people’s vote much much closer.
“We are a very very broken country and in some ways the debate over the two years shows what a broken nation we are. Lord Adonis talks about ways of healing this.”
Chairperson of the Wandsworth branch, Helen Rennie-Smith, said: ‘It’s really valuable to get this sort of input, particularly on a day that has been so eventful in parliament. It’s so exciting and raises morale.”
Campaigns organiser, Ben Austin, said: “Nights like tonight act as a good drawcard for members of the local community in Wimbledon to engage with us.
“You need to do all sorts of activities and getting a big name of the People’s Vote to come talk to us is quite impressive. We want people to feel excited about the campaign.”
Lord Adonis was signing copies of his new book ‘Saving Britain: How We Must Change to Prosper in Europe’ co-written with Will Hutton, principal of Hertford College, Oxford.
Current odds for a second Brexit referendum taking place are 6/5 according to Sky Bet.