Thousands of St Albans and Harpenden people sign 'stunning' Brexit petition

PUBLISHED: 16:34 22 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:15 22 March 2019

Bim Afolami, Anne Main. Credit: Chris McAndrew.

Bim Afolami, Anne Main. Credit: Chris McAndrew.

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Thousands of people from St Albans and Harpenden have signed a petition asking the government to abort Brexit.

The petition has already gained more than three million signatures nationwide - but the number is ever increasing.

Entitled Revoke Article 50 and Remain in the EU, the petition says: “The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is ‘the will of the people’.

“We need to put a stop to this claim by proving the strength of public support now, for remaining in the EU. A People’s Vote may not happen - so vote now.”

The number of people who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum totalled 17.4 million - but St Albans district bucked the national trend by voting 62 per cent to Remain in the EU.

Members of St Albans for Europe at the People's Vote March in London.Members of St Albans for Europe at the People's Vote March in London.

About 10,000 people have now signed the petition from the St Albans and Harpenden constituencies respectively.

St Albans MP Anne Main, a vocal Brexit supporter and opponent of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, said: “We held a nationwide referendum in 2016. 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU. I respect that many people disagree with the result, however both major parties committed in their manifestos to respect that vote.

“I fully intend to honour the manifesto I stood on in 2017 to deliver the referendum result and to leave the European Union.”

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami said: “I do not support any move to unilaterally revoke Article 50. Such a move would be highly undemocratic and would cause irreparable damage to public trust in our democracy. I want to avoid a No Deal Brexit and I have been clear that I could never support such an outcome.

St Albans MP Anne Main speaking at Westminster.St Albans MP Anne Main speaking at Westminster.

“But if we want to prevent a No Deal Brexit or a lengthy extension to Article 50 then we need to pass a deal by April 12.

“That’s why I’ve been backing the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement and why I will continue to do so.”

This comes in the midst of Parliamentary uncertainty about the future of Brexit. With a week to go until Britain was due to leave the single market, MPs have voted twice not to reject the negotiated document and Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has ruled out a third vote on anything “substantially” the same.

The EU has granted Mrs May an extension, but only until April 12 if MPs do not back her deal.

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami has voted for the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement twice now. Picture: DANNY LOOHitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami has voted for the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement twice now. Picture: DANNY LOO

Secretary of St Albans for Europe (StAfE), Helen Campbell, said: “St Albans for Europe is really happy to see so many local residents signing this petition to revoke Article 50.

“Theresa May’s shocking speech denouncing MPs seems to have been the trigger for high numbers flocking to sign and crashing the Parliamentary website in the process.

“Her total failure in Brussels on Thursday evening made the situation even worse. Brexit has turned out to be a humiliating disaster for the UK. We hope she listens and, if she won’t revoke, she should put her terrible deal to the people.”

Local Remainer groups have been campaigning for a People’s Vote, and will join like-minded activists in a march from Park Lane to Parliament Square on Saturday, March 23.

Chair of Harpenden for Europe (HfE), Richard Scott, said: “This week’s stunning Revoke Article 50 petition shows the huge and growing opposition to Brexit across the country.

“The government and our local MP Bim Afolami will try to ignore and discredit this opposition but they can’t deny the true will of the people for much longer.

“The constituents of Harpenden have consistently made clear that they reject Brexit and want to Remain in the EU.”

He highlighted a survey which he said showed 64 per cent of Hitchin and Harpenden constituents want to Remain in the EU, and implored Mr Afolami to “put the interests of his constituents first”.

Adding: “We will see further evidence of the overwhelming support in Harpenden for Remain on Saturday’s People’s Vote March.

“Our projections are that we will have an even bigger turnout than the 250 local residents who took part in the October March.

“Harpenden for Europe is very concerned at the mounting evidence that Bim Afolami is simply ignoring the repeated pleas of his constituents and is instead supporting a failed Prime Minister and her failed Brexit Deal.”

See the petition at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241584

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