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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez calls for second Brexit referendum

Speaking to newspaper ‘Politico,’ the Socialist Party politician said it was “not democratic” for the UK to exit the 28-country bloc after “Leave” won the poll with 51% of the vote

Pedro Sánchez (r) with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in Paris on Sunday.
Pedro Sánchez (r) with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in Paris on Sunday. REUTERS

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said in an interview that if he were in the position of his opposite number in the United Kingdom he would call a second referendum on the issue of Brexit – the country’s exit from the European Union. Speaking to the European edition of the newspaper Politico, the Socialist Party (PSOE) politician said: “If I was [British Prime Minister] Theresa May, I would call a second referendum, no doubt.”

His comments make him only the third government head from the 27 EU member states to openly call for a second plebiscite in the UK on its continuance in the bloc, after Joseph Muscat and Andrej Babis, the prime ministers of Malta and Czech Republic, respectively, also spoke out on the issue.

For Sánchez, Brexit is “a great loss for both [Spain and the UK],” and he hopes it can be “reconsidered in the future”

“It’s true that we’re now on the verge of signing a transition deal,” he added in the interview. “[But] I’d like to see the British government calling a second referendum. I don’t mean now, but in the future, so that it can come back to the EU. In another way, but back into the EU.”

Sánchez, who described himself in the interview as a “militant pro-European,” added that the UK is a “marvelous country” that has had a “positive influence” on European politics, but has taken a path of “self-absorption which isn’t going to be good either for the UK or for Europe.”

For Sánchez, Brexit is “a great loss for both,” and he hopes it can be “reconsidered in the future.”

With regard to the issue of citizens’ rights after the London-Brussels divorce, which is officially slated for March 29, the prime minister stated that both Spain and the UK have committed to respecting these even in the case of a no-deal “hard” Brexit. “I appreciate and thank very much Prime Minister May’s commitment to safeguarding those rights,” he said. “We will do the same with the 300,000 Britons who’re in Spain.”

Sánchez also used the interview to warn against the danger of such referendums, saying it was not “democratic” to decide to exit the EU with the 51% support that the Leave side achieved in the 2016 vote.

“All these kind of referendums do is fragment … and polarize societies,” he said.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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