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Brexit Protests Build as Voters Hope Unity is Still Possible

Thousands gathered in London to protest Brexit even after organizers called off the event

Protesters demonstrated peacefully, holding pro-EU banners and flags. (Photo: Reuters)

As the Brexit backlash continues to grow, thousands gathered in London's Trafalgar Square on Tuesday to protest the UK's vote to leave the European Union—even as organizers called off the event after an extraordinary 50,000 people said they would attend.

As the dust settles from last week's referendum, UK voters are now contemplating their options as they face leaving the EU, with some wondering if the decision could possibly be reversed.

While some argue that such an act would be a refutation of democracy, others say that the vote was won largely because of an extensive misinformation campaign and that UK voters would be better served by knowing the terms of such an exit first before they vote.

Killing the Messenger

Diplomatic experts note that a walk-back of the result is actually possible—though, as the Guardian's Patrick Wintour explains, "many forces would have to align" in order for that to happen.

Wintour writes:


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Few UK politicians – fearful of challenging the verdict of an already angry electorate – will articulate such an argument in public. But Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has boldly made the case for a second referendum or another general election on the negotiated terms of exit. Robin Butler, the former head of the civil service, has suggested the same.

[....] For the sake of simplicity, three scenarios could then follow. In the first, Johnson wins the election, negotiates the terms of the UK’s departure, puts them to a referendum and they are endorsed. Some form of access to the single market and some deal on free movement – the two central issues – are agreed. It is a bespoke British deal. Britain remains outside the EU but only just.

Still, Tuesday's protest and another planned for Saturday make clear where many Brits stand on the issue. The thousands who gathered in Trafalgar Square despite the event's cancellation, including Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, demonstrated peacefully amid dreary weather, singing The Beatles' "Hey Jude" and holding signs with pro-EU messages and symbols.

Another 32,000 people have said they will attend a protest Saturday outside Parliament that was organized when the first was cancelled. The Facebook page for that event, titled Anti Brexit March, states, "We can prevent Brexit by refusing to accept the referendum as the final say and take our finger off the self-destruct button."

"It is the responsibility of parliament to consider our democracy more carefully and call for a vote before they all accept the UK's decline," the event page states. "Let's not leave the next generation adrift. We can provide the ammunition parliament needs to reason their way through this mess and reconsider Brexit, if we make a stand!"

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