Critics of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit proposal across several parties staged the first in a planned series of rallies on Saturday, aimed at mounting support for a clean break with European Union (EU).
The “Save Brexit Campaign” kicked off at the football grounds of Bolton, a north western town with high levels of public opposition to the bloc.
It was headlined by May’s former Brexit Secretary David Davis and others opposed to her attempts to keep close post-Brexit trade relations with the remaining 27 EU member states.
“We didn’t vote for whatever negotiations may lead to, we didn’t vote for a series of deals,” former UKIP party leader Nigel Farage told about 1 000 cheering supporters.
“This was a vote about us taking back our country, taking back the ability to make our laws, taking back control of our borders and being an independent nation.” Farage later called EU leaders “a bunch of gangster” and “bully boys”.
The 80-minute event did not generate much British media attention, but represented the difficulties May is facing both at home and abroad as the clock ticks down to March 29, Brexit deal deadline day. EU leaders lined up at a summit in Salzburg on Thursday to condemn May’s proposals for post-Brexit trade relations and the Irish border.
Brussels believes May wants Britain to keep the benefits of free trade on goods with the EU without following its other rules. The so-called Brexiteers who gathered in Bolton on Saturday think May is giving Brussels too much ground.
They included May’s Tory party member Davis along with Farage and opposition Labour party MP Kate Hoey.
“We have nothing to fear – we should only accept a clean and clear Brexit, not some weak compromise,” said Davis.
The new campaign echoes the one Brexit advocates staged ahead of the 2016 referendum on leaving the EU.
The current “Leave Means Leave” campaign website features a large photo of a double-decker bus emblazoned with a slogan reading: “Stop the Brexit betrayal.”