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Your Views: Brits in France demand second referendum but some remain wary

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Your Views: Brits in France demand second referendum but some remain wary
Photo: AFP
16:10 CEST+02:00
Brits living in France, who are among those most affected by the UK leaving the EU, believe the best way out of the Brexit debacle is to have a second referendum.

Calls to have a second a referendum on Britain's exit from the European Union have grown louder in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, the question of whether to have a so-called People's Vote, as it has been dubbed, was the hot issue at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, after party members demanded the question be debated.

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly refused to even consider the idea of a second referendum, arguing that do so would be to undermine democracy and would result in the public losing faith in their politicians.

But Britons in France, who are among those groups who stand to be most affected by Brexit, especially if the UK crashes out without a deal, are adamant that democracy was already undermined in the first referendum, not least because many were barred from voting due to the 15-year rule and also because of the "lies" told by the Leave camp.

To give an idea of the strength of feeling for a second referendum, some 82 percent of readers polled on our Facebook page are in favour of another vote compared to 18 percent who don't think it's the best way forward. On Twitter 63 percent of respondents backed a People's Vote.

Most of those who favour a second referendum believe the public are now better informed than in the run up to the fist vote. 

"The first referendum did not give voters a chance to vote on their future just an ideal. A second referendum should allow people the opportunity to make an informed choice - if they choose to be informed. Anything less is a dereliction of public duty," said Rebecca Jackson, who lives in Pyrenees-Atlantique in south western France.

Wayne Salter from the Ain department in eastern France said: "In a democracy it is the right and reasonable thing to do. Give people a chance to vote on the actual deal, which whether it is a real deal or no deal will be something concrete which people can intellectually examine for its merits, and not some unfounded ideal based on lies and misinformation."

While it is unclear what the options would be any "People's Vote", many believe it must include an option to end Brexit and remain the EU, rather than just vote on the final terms of any deal. 

Francis White, who lives in the department of Tarn in the south west, said: "Of course it is worth going through it all again. Both Remainers and Brexiteers should embrace the opportunity to vote following a public debate that has helped everyone to be more informed."

And one British resident of Brittany said: "First one was based on lies the public were fed and fell for. Many many Brits in the EU are not able to vote and even those here that were, never received any papers or until too late."

Part of the reason behind the growing momentum for a "People's Vote" is the increasing possibility that Britain could crash out of the EU with no deal.

PM Theresa May admitted last week that talks with Brussels were at an "impasse" and repeated her threat to leave without a deal unless the EU accepts her proposals or comes up with a viable alternative.

Her speech prompted anger among campaigners for the rights of Britons living in the EU who were furious that the Prime Minister did not mention them in her speech.

At the same time anxiety levels have risen among Britons in France as the government publishes a series of impact notices aimed at warning the public of the knock-on effects of Britain and the EU not reaching a withdrawal deal.

They have been told that they could lose access to UK bank accounts, see their driving licences become invalid and face disruption on flights between the UK and the EU.

And all this while their future status in France has still not been guaranteed.

But Teresa Sorokin, from Brittany summed up the frustration of many Britons in France who simply wouldn't have a voice in any "People's Vote" despite having been promised one. She is one of thousands who have lived away from Britain for over 15 years, meaning they lose the right to vote.

"I voted remain and would do so again in a heartbeat but from this October I'm disenfranchised," she said.

"I'm incandescent that despite election promises, the referendum was called without first overturning the 15 year rule. Now I cannot imagine anyone sane still wanting Brexit after learning about the lies that brought about this dismal state of affairs."

Yet some Britons in France remain wary about the idea of a second referendum, not least because it would allow hardline Brexiteers like Nigel Farage to take to the campaign trail once again. 

"I'm cynical about another vote though I would dearly like one. I suspect more untruths would be paraded by Brexiteers," said Jo Pocket who lives in Aude.

Many are also concerned that another referendum would sow more division between the two sides.

While others are simply wary that another vote could end in the same result.

Linda Lovelock from Dordogne added: "It's such an important issue with such enormous consequences that I think it needs further consideration. Whether it will result in a different outcome, I'm not so sure, as most people seem to be of the same opinion as before, but I still think it is necessary."

To avoid entrenching the already bitter divisions some argue that instead of another referendum it should be lawmakers in the UK parliament who bring a halt to Brexit.

"Parliament should just take the decision to remain as they actually know that this is the best thing for the people whose interests they were elected to stand up for and they have the time and resources to make an informed decision," said Chris Ashton from Lyon.

"Passing it back to the population is a cop out and a failure to do their job."

 
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