Best for Britain chief campaigning for second referendum compares Brexit to appeasement of Nazi Germany
Brexit has been compared to the appeasement of Nazi Germany in the 1930s by a leading supporter of the Remain campaign.
Lord Malloch-Brown, the former foreign office minister who heads the Best for Britain group, made the comments after billionaire George Soros announced a campaign for a second Brexit referendum.
Mr Soros, who is reported to have given about Â£500,000 to the group set up by anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller last year, said action was needed as withdrawal from the European Union was âimmensely damagingâ for the UK.EU minister says little progress has been made on Brexit since March
Lord Malloch-Brown said Britain needed to stay close to the EU because appeasement, which was a 1930s government policy of pursuing agreement with Nazi Germany in the hope of avoiding war, sho wed how badly things could go wrong when the UK tried to isolate itself from the continent.
He told BBC Radio 4âs Today programme: âBritainâs history as an island nation adjacent to mainland Europe is when we try to, sort of, pull away from Europeâs problems and close ourselves off to them they have a horrible habit of infecting us anyway.
âAppeasement in the 1930s, you name it. For centuries Britain has ignored events on continental Europe at its peril.â
He said Mr Sorosâs reputation as the âman who broke the Bank of Englandâ in 1992, when the financier bet against sterling on the money markets, was an âunrelated issueâ to the anti-Brexit campaign.
âHe broke the Bank of England as a financier because the British pound was over-extended. It wasnât credible. He broke the pound, not the Bank of England, I should say.
âHe is someone who has devoted decades to an extraordinary global philanthropy which has f ought for democracy and open values.â
Best for Britain, which campaigns to keep the UK open to EU membership, is expected to publish its manifesto calling for a second referendum on 8 June.
Brexit talks: Top issues facing UK on leaving EU
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Brexit talks: Top issues facing UK on leaving EU
1/7 Customs union
A key point in the negotiations remains Britain's access to, or withdrawal from, the EU customs union. Since the referendum there has been hot debate over the meaning of Brexit: would it entail a full withdrawal from the existing agreement, known as hard Brexit, or the soft version in which we would remain part of a common customs area for most goods, as Turkey does? No 10 has so far insisted that âBrexit means Brexitâ and that Britain will be leaving the customs union, but may be inclined to change its position once the potential risks to the UKâs economic outlook become clearer.
2/7 Northern Ireland-Irish border
Though progress was made last year, there has still been no solid agreement on whether there should be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. To ensure borderless travel on the island, t he countries must be in regulatory alignment and therefore adhere to the same rules as the customs union. In December, the Conservative Partyâs coalition partners, the DUP, refused a draft agreement that would place the UK/EU border in the Irish Sea due to its potential to undermine the union. May has promised that would not be the case and has suggested that a âspecific solutionâ would need to be found.
3/7 Transition period
Despite protests from a small number of Conservative MPs, the Government and the EU are largely in agreement that a transitional period is needed after Brexit. The talks, however, have reached an impasse. Though May has agreed that the UK will continue to contribute to the EU budget until 2021, the PM wants to be able to select which laws made during this time the UK will have to adhere to. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier (seen here with EU Minister David Davis) has said the UK must adopt all of the laws passed during the transition, without any input from British ministers or MEPs.
4/7 Rights of EU citizens living the UK
The Prime Minister has promised EU citizens already living in the UK the right to live and work here after Brexit, but the rights of those who arrive after Brexit day remains unclear. May insists that those who arrive during the transition period should not be allowed to stay, whereas the EU believe the cut-off point should be later.
5/7 Future trade agreement (with the EU)
Despite this being a key issue in negotiations, the Government has yet to lay out exactly what it wants from a trade deal with the EU. Infighting within the Cabinet has prevented a solid position from being reached, with some MPs content that "no deal is better than a bad deal" while others rally behind single market access. The EU has already confirmed that access to the single market would be impossible without the UK remaining in the customs union.
6/7 Future trade agreements (internationally)
The Government has already begun trying to woo foreign leaders into prospective trade agreements, with various high profile state visits to China, India and Canada for May, and the now infamous invitation to US President Donald Trump to visit London. However the UK cannot make tra de agreements with another country while it is still a member of the EU, and the potential loss of trade with the world's major powers is a source of anxiety for the PM. The EU has said the UK cannot secure trade deals during the transition period.
7/7 Financial services
Banks in the UK will be hit hard regardless of the Brexit outcome. The EU has refused to give British banks passporting rights to trade within the EU, dashing hopes of a special City deal. However according to new reports Germany has suggested allowing trade on the condition that the UK continues paying into the EU budget even after the transition period.
Announcing the campaign in Paris, Mr Soros, 87, said: âBrexit is an immensely damagin g process, harmful to both sides.
âDivorce will be a long process, probably taking more than five years. Five years is an eternity in politics, especially in revolutionary times like the present.
âUltimately, itâs up to the British people to decide what they want to do. It would be better however if they came to a decision sooner rather than later. Thatâs the goal of an initiative called the Best for Britain, which I support.
âBest for Britain fought for, and helped to win, a meaningful parliamentary vote which includes the option of not leaving at all. This would be good for Britain but would also render Europe a great service by rescinding Brexit and not creating a hard-to-fill hole in the European budget.
âBut the British public must express its support by a convincing margin in order to be taken seriously by Europe. Thatâs what Best for Britain is aiming for by engaging the electorate. It will publish its manifesto in the next few da ys.â
He said he feared the EU could be heading towards another major financial crisis triggered by austerity and populist political parties intent on tearing the bloc apart.
âThe EU is in an existential crisis. Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong,â he said.
However, Mr Soros said he was convinced it was the ideal time for the EU to reform itself and prepare the ground for the UK staying inside the bloc.The appeasement policy didn't end well (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
âThe economic case for remaining a member of the EU is strong, but it will take time for it to sink inâ, he added.
âDuring that time the EU needs to transform itself into an association that countries like Britain would want to join, in order to strengthen the political case.
âSuch a Europe would differ from the current arrangements in two key respects. First, it would clearly distinguish between the European Union and the eurozone.
âSecond, it would recognise that the euro has many unresolved problems and they must not be allowed to destroy the European Union.â
Theresa May is committed to leaving the EUâs single market and customs union after Brexit, which will officially take place on 29 March next year.
However, a transition period is currently set to last until 31 December 2020.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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