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London mayor calls for second referendum on Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) – London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for another referendum on Britain’s European Union membership, saying the prime minister’s handling of Brexit negotiations had become “mired in confusion and deadlock” and was leading the country down a damaging path.

Soccer Football – The Best FIFA Football Awards – London Palladium, London, Britain – October 23, 2017 Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks during the awards REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29. But with Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans still not accepted, some MPs, as well as union and business leaders are increasingly arguing for people to have a final say on any deal struck with Brussels.

May has repeatedly ruled out holding a second referendum following the vote two years ago to leave the EU. She says MPs will get to vote on whether to accept any final deal.

But with time running out for London and Brussels to thrash out a Brexit deal, the British government is preparing plans for a no-deal Brexit.

Chancellor Philip Hammond told senior ministers last week that Brexit could have to be delayed beyond March 29 in order to pass new laws, The Sun newspaper said on Saturday.

The idea was immediately rejected by May, the report said.

Khan, a senior member of the Labour Party, said Britain was now facing either a bad deal or a no-deal Brexit, both of which were “incredibly risky” for Britain.

Writing in Sunday’s Observer newspaper, Khan blamed the government’s handling of the negotiations and said the threat to living standards, the economy and jobs was too great for voters not to have a say.

“The government’s abject failure – and the huge risk we face of a bad deal or a no-deal Brexit – means that giving people a fresh say is now the right – and only – approach left for our country,” he said.

Khan’s support for a second referendum, which supporters call a “people’s vote”, will put more pressure on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to change his opposition to the idea.

Labour is due to start its four-day annual party conference in a week’s time.

Reporting by Sarah Young and Paul Sandle; Editing by Angus MacSwan, William Maclean


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