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New anti-Brexit party launches in Britain

© AFP/File | Anti-Brexit campaigners have held frequent protests in London

LONDON (AFP) - 

A new anti-Brexit centrist political party holds its official launch in London Monday, one of several initiatives by pro-European Union campaigners drawing hope from a perceived shift in the British public's mood.

"We aim to reverse Brexit and restore our influential position in Europe, allowing us to focus on what really matters in the UK," the party, called Renew, said on its website ahead of the launch in central London.

The fledgling political party said it already had more than 300 candidates ready to contest the next general election and was aiming to recruit a total of 650 to stand in every constituency in Britain.

The party was founded by former financier Chris Coghlan ahead of last year's general election.

Coghlan stood as an independent candidate in that election, running on an anti-Brexit platform, and came fourth with 1,234 votes in Battersea in south London.

The next elections are not due until 2022 but many commentators believe they could come much earlier because of Prime Minister Theresa May's precarious leadership and feuding inside her Conservative party.

Several campaigns have emerged in recent weeks calling for a re-run of the EU membership referendum and putting pressure on MPs to oppose a Brexit agreement when it comes before parliament as expected this year.

One of them, Best for Britain, captured the headlines this month because of a large donation from billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros.

Former Labour party politician Andrew Adonis, a member of the House of Lords, has launched his own campaign alongside the youth group "Our Future, Our Choice".

- 'A nation divided' -

Several campaigns earlier this year united in a Grassroots Coordinating Group chaired by Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading pro-EU political voice.

Opinion polls since last year's general election have shown growing support for staying in the bloc but polling expert John Curtice said last month that it was "not exactly a dramatic change".

Curtice also said that there was "not of lot of evidence in support of the idea that there has been a dramatic increase in support for a second referendum".

Renew said it aims to address what it called the root causes of the 2016 Brexit referendum in which 52 percent voted in favour of leaving the EU.

"The Brexit referendum was a wake-up call that we are a nation divided, with deep discontent at inequality.

"Leaving the EU will only make things worse. We should reconsider Brexit, now we know more," it said.

The party said it would focus on inequality by increasing the minimum wage, boosting infrastructure outside London and creating more affordable housing.

It said it would also "look at better ways to manage immigration" -- one of the main issues in the campaign.

© 2018 AFP