A campaign to secure a second Brexit referendum within a year and save the UK from “immense damage” is to be launched in days, the philanthropist and financier George Soros has announced.
The billionaire founder of the Open Society Foundation said the prospect of the UK’s prolonged divorce from Brussels could help persuade the British public by a “convincing margin” that EU membership was in their interests.
In a speech on Tuesday ahead of the launch of the Best for Britain campaign – said to have already attracted millions of pounds in donations – Soros suggested to an audience in Paris that changing the minds of Britons would be in keeping with “revolutionary times”.
Best for Britain had already helped to convince parliamentarians to extract from Theresa May a meaningful vote on the final withdrawal deal, he said, and it was time to engage with voters, and Brussels, to pave the way for the UK to stay in the bloc. It is expected to publish its campaign manifesto on 8 June.
Soros, 87, said: “Brexit is an immensely damaging process, harmful to both sides … Divorce 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.
“Ultimately, it’s 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. That’s the goal of an initiative called the Best for Britain, which I support.
“Best 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.
“But the British public must express its support by a convincing margin in order to be taken seriously by Europe. That’s what Best for Britain is aiming for by engaging the electorate. It will publish its manifesto in the next few days.”
Soros said he feared the EU could be heading towards another major financial crisis triggered by austerity and populist political parties intent on blowing the bloc apart.