I marched for a Final Say at the October protest in London. Our voices must not be forgotten in the election ahead

, by Aimee Pearcy

I marched for a Final Say at the October protest in London. Our voices must not be forgotten in the election ahead
The three People’s Vote marches in London were among the biggest demonstrations in British history. Image credit: TeaMeister

On 19th October, I was one of around a million people who took to the streets of central London. Led by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, we marched to demand a new referendum that would act as a confirmatory vote on Brexit.

People from every corner of the country, of all ages and backgrounds, turned up to make sure their voice was heard.

Meanwhile, MPs sat in Parliament and debated the eleventh hour Brexit deal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson just brought back from Brussels.

An overwhelming sense of community

Over 170 coaches brought second referendum supporters to London for what was one of the largest protests in British history.

I was one of what must have been over a hundred people from Liverpool who boarded the ‘Euroscousers’* coach at 6am on that rainy Saturday morning in order to make it to the heart of London for 12pm. My eyes ached from lack of sleep and I shivered as we stood outside the Liverpool World Museum waiting for the coach to arrive, but the atmosphere was warm and friendly and there was a sense of hope and excitement in the air.

There was a wonderful sense of solidarity as we drove down to London — admittedly, not enough to take out my earplugs as everyone enthusiastically bellowed the lyrics to ‘We love EU’, which I learned was an amended version of ‘She Loves You’ by Liverpool’s The Beatles.

Yet despite the gloomy shadow that Brexit and the British weather had cast over us all, the laughter and the off-key singing did well to remind me that I was not alone.

Brexit fatigue

Very few people thought Brexit would happen. Back in 2016, even former Prime Minister David Cameron himself doubted that a referendum would ever take place.

Fast forward to 2019, and Brexit   continues to dominate the news. And people have had enough. For the past three years, it has been almost impossible to go an entire day without hearing about Brexit. And people have had enough.

The government knows this — and they’re feeding off it. The Conservative Party’s #GetBrexitDone campaign is a prime example of Boris Johnson taking advantage of fatigued MPs and voters in order to force through policies that the British public don’t want. At the most recent Conservative Party Conference, Boris Johnson promised to “get Brexit done” and “send Jeremy Corbyn into orbit where he belongs”.

But one thing is certain: forcing through Brexit won’t end the debate. There is far too much that still needs to be resolved. Leaving the EU would only be the beginning.

A number of campaign groups marched to make their voices heard

Best for Britain, the Liberal Democrats, Renew Britain, the Green Party of England and Wales, and the Women’s Equality Party were just a few of the key organisations that turned up in London to show their support for the People’s Vote campaign.

Another key group that was present at the march included Remainer Now —  an anti-Brexit group that was set up in 2016 to spread the voices of the abstainers and leave voters who have now reassessed their decision, and are calling for a second vote.

“I voted leave but am now firmly remain! Leave will be catastrophic for all but the wealthy who are expecting to profit from everyone else’s misery! There was virtually no substance to any of the promises the leave campaign made & we lose so much by leaving the EU!” tweets Mick Yates, a remainer from Mansfield.

A pro-EU couple and their friends who couldn’t make it to the march on the 19th even decided to hold their own anti-Brexit demonstration in Marvejols, France.

A number of groups campaigning against the indefinite detention of migrants were also present at the march. Britain is the only country in Europe without a time limit on detention, and the 30,000 people who are locked up in prison-like conditions each year with no time limit, just because they do not yet have the correct immigration papers, costs the British government in excess of £125 million a year.

The ‘Final Say’ march isn’t the only resistance to Brexit we’ve witnessed. Back in March, another million people marched across central London. Another 750,00 marching in October 2018 alongside countless smaller protests nationwide. Yet, these protests have received little acknowledgment by those in power. Perhaps this is because Boris Johnson knows that a second referendum is likely to change the result.

Labour MP for Leicester West Liz Kendall tweeted, “I want to get #Brexit sorted and I think the best way to do that is to put Johnson’s deal to the public and say, now that we know what Brexit really looks like, do you want to go ahead?”

Because in the words of former Conservative Brexit Secretary, David Davis, said in November 2012, “if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy”.

The election ahead

Two weeks later and we have an election on our hands. When Britain goes to the polls on 12th December, Brexit will be the main theme in the eyes of many voters. Those in power, and those aiming to achieve it, must not forget the scale and intensity of the Final Say march. There is a gigantic pro-European movement in Britain today which has been ignored for three and a half years. Our voice must not be forgotten.

*Scouser = an informal British term for someone from Liverpool

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