Divided UK braces for once-in-a-lifetime Brexit vote

LONDON (AFP) – As British MPs prepare for a historic vote on the future of Brexit, the country is back on a campaign footing and the bitter divisions of the 2016 referendum have re-surfaced.

Second referendum campaigners are setting up stalls at Christmas markets nationwide, while hardline Brexiteers are pushing their message of a clean break on tours of Britain.

“It really does feel like 2016 all over again,” said Politico’s Jack Blanchard, reacting to the daily news diet of dire economic forecasts and heated political debates.

Different sides in the debate are urging people to put pressure on their MPs ahead of the December 11 vote, hoping their vision of Britain’s future will win the day.

Polls indicate that some Britons – a minority – do support Prime Minister Theresa May’s compromise deal with Brussels, hoping to put an end to a tortuous debate.

But hardliners instead want a cleaner break to escape the “tentacles” of Europe once and for all, while moderates are campaigning for a deal that binds Britain closer to Europe.

Despite May’s repeated denials, another group of Britons is hoping that the confusion created if and when MPs reject May’s deal will ultimately lead to a second referendum.

The impression for now is that all options are up for grabs.

Artist Kaya Mar displays his painting of Theresa May in front of Downing Street in London, on December 4. – AFP