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Brexit: Fashion tycoon seeks second EU vote

August 19, 2018

The ex-boss of the fashion brand Superdry has boosted the fortunes of a campaign for Britain to hold a second EU referendum. Julian Dunkerton thinks Brexit will be a "disaster."

Counting ballot boxes in Britain's 2016 EU referendum
Image: Getty Images/AFP/R. Perry

Just seven months until Britain is due to leave the EU, the co-founder of global fashion chain Superdry has donated 1 million pounds (€1.1 million, $1.28 million) to a group seeking a new referendum on membership of the bloc.

Julian Dunkerton, whose streetwear brand has outlets in 46 countries, wrote in Britain's Sunday Times that he is backing the People's Vote campaign because he predicts Brexit will be a "disaster" and "we have a genuine chance to turn this around."

Read more: Scotland wants to avoid Brexit but doesn't know how

His donation will be spent on one of the biggest polling operations ever undertaken in the United Kingdom.

No Brexit vision

Dunkerton used Sunday's opinion piece to complain: "There is no vision for Brexit and the politicians have made a mess of it."

"Increasingly, the public knows that Brexit is going to be a disaster. Maybe they just need to be given that little bit of hope that comes when they see how opinion is moving.

Julian Dunkerton, co-founder of Superdry
Julian Dunkerton puts his money where his mouth is — backing plans for a second referendum on Britain's EU membershipImage: picture alliance/AP Photo

London and Brussels hope to strike a deal on the country's future trading relations with the bloc by October, to allow its ratification by the European and British parliaments before Britain leaves the EU in March.

But British lawmakers remain split on Prime Minister Theresa May's proposals to keep Britain close to the EU on trade — parts of which have since been rejected by Brussels.

Britain: Farmers against Brexit

Public opinion changing?

With exit talks stalled, both sides say the chances of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal are rising.

That has energized those calling for a new vote on the departure terms, who sense that public opinion in Britain is shifting against Brexit.

In the June 2016 referendum, 52 percent of eligible voters opted for Britain to leave the EU.

Last week, a YouGov poll of 10,000 people found that 53 percent of voters now want to remain in the bloc, versus 47 percent for leave.

Pro-Brexit advocates are stepping up their campaign to ensure the British government goes through with the decision to leave — many want the government to pull the UK out of the EU's customs union and single market.

Read more: Brexit: Ireland warns of too much no-deal 'bravado'

Brexit: Uncertainty at the Irish border

Mr Brexit returns

Such is the concern about Brexit possibly being stalled that Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), announced a return to politics to join a nationwide bus tour to oppose what he branded a "cowardly sell-out."

Britain's business leaders have been pressuring May for months to ensure Britain does not crash out of the EU. They warned of mayhem for trade, which they say could cause food and medicine shortages, and ground flights into and out of the country.

Despite the rising concerns, both London and Brussels insist they are confident of reaching a deal.

But even so, on Thursday Britain will publish the first of a series of technical notices designed to help people and businesses prepare for a no-deal scenario.

mm/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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