‘Let us Sing in Celebration of a Union Proud and Free’

On Saturday, about a million of us descended on London, all committed Remainers, demanding a Final Say on the Brexit Deal, which even as we marched was being debated in Parliament with as much dissent as usual.

Our own little patch of Yorkshire sent three coaches.  Nineteen coaches from Yorkshire altogether. Everyone had their own important reasons for being there.

But the Yorkshire Remain Voice Choir had come to sing. We had permission to commandeer Wellington Place, right next to Trafalgar Square, and sing below the Duke of York Monument. And that’s what we did. 

We’d come into being about two years ago in two ways. Over in York for Europe, Martin and Gill were crafting clever lyrics with a view to starting a Remainers’ choir.  And in North Yorkshire we began to sing at our street stalls.  Arnold conducted a few singers, a tuba, and a guitar. Small beginnings …. but now it’s county-wide, with members from Settle to Sheffield – almost 80 miles apart. Dozens play their parts.  Composing lyrics; practising; arranging; securing singing spots; keeping song books up to date; booking coaches. 

We have SODEM’s support in London, and an official photographer in Bedford-based Chiara Mc Call. We’ve sung all over Yorkshire, in London, even (thanks to Louise in South Yorkshire) in Brussels. Whenever the going’s got tough, we’ve had North Yorkshire’s Richard S’s boundless enthusiasm and hard work to keep us going.  These days, apart from the original small team, we have a Yorkshire band’s worth of brass, and drums and various stringed instruments.

In London on Saturday, we had a large and pretty much captive audience.  Slow-motion marchers inevitably listened – enthusiastically – as they passed. Many stopped off specially to listen, applaud and join in too. Demonic Cummings and Boris Johnson, those two splendid images fresh over from Germany, unsurprisingly pushed off towards Trafalgar Square as we began.


Our audience, viewed from the choir (CM)

There are thirty eight songs in our repertoire – all, with one exception, pastiches of well-known numbers.  Our signature number is of course:

‘We’ve come from Yorkshire just to say (just to say)

Your Brexit deal is naff…‘(to the tune of ‘On Ilkley Moor’, naturally).

But we can do other folk songs:

‘What shall we do with….‘, not a ‘Drunken Sailor’, but ‘this Rotten Brexit?’

…..drinking songs: ‘I’ve been a Remainer for many’s the year’ rather than the more traditional ‘Wild Rover’.

We can do Old Time Musical: ‘I’m forever European’ (‘I’m forever Blowing Bubbles’).

Radio Two standards such as ‘Delilah’ ask:

‘Why why why deceive us?

More lies won’t appease us’.

We can reference American traditions:

‘We’ve had quite enough of Brexit it’s a con’.  (‘She’ll be coming round the Mountain’)

While ‘The Battle Hymn to the Republic’ becomes ‘Our eyes have seen the threat to all the freedoms we hold dear’.

Hymns too …. ‘Bread of Heaven’, and the Last Night of the Proms (‘Land of Hopeless Tories  ‘).

There’s one song in our repertoire that’s not original: ‘Ode to Joy’. It moves many of us to tears every time we sing it. 


Brexit or no Brexit (no Brexit please!) we’d like to continue.  A pro-Europe Choir and Band for Europe?


Photos and videos labelled ‘CM’ are by our wonderful friend and supporter Chiara McCall. Follow her on Instagram @chichi76.myreflection


Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

35 thoughts on “‘Let us Sing in Celebration of a Union Proud and Free’”

  1. Fantastic wish I’d seen you all! We must never give up and as Will Hutton said on Sunday if the worst happens we must all work on the campaign to rejoin!

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Thought you’d be there and a brass band too, fabulous! I tried to listen to the debate, but Johnson’s answers were mostly unintelligible. Amazing to see so many people on the march again, but sadly I don’t think Johnson & Co have any intention other than crashing us out by any means.

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  3. Although I shouldn’t have the slightest interest in all this, I’m fevering along and even though our choral singing this weekend couldn’t really be compared to your songs, I know exactly about the power if singing….. it DOES have a huge effect on people’s souls and therefore a huge BRAVO for attending , walking and showing YOUR opinion. May the miracle happen. 🎶👍🏻🇨🇰🇬🇧🎵

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had heard from afar that the protests were very good humoured and now I know why. Has anyone posted the lyrics of the songs online? I’m curious about Ilkley Moor and Delilah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are of course copyright reasons for not sharing fully, but there are many great songs. Actually, neither of these two is my favourite. I may try to message you if you’re interested.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hadn’t thought about copyright. There is a contact form on my blog. I have recently put a few pictures on my Instagram account (is that how people usually message each other?), but haven’t really taken to it and am not familiar with the ins and outs yet. I keep getting admonished for acting like I would here on WP, such as leaving comments and signing in from different places, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, all that kind of thing is way above my pay-grade. Life is just so much simpler if we can take people at face value and just communicate, whether face to face or using the keyboard.


  5. I love these posts–the enthusiasm and passion you all bring to what, it seems, might be a disappointing (not to say dispiriting and disheartening) outcome reminds me that good can come from bad. I keep reading opinion pieces here that more Americans should be taking to the streets, to demand impeachment or some other dramatic change, and I think that might be the next stage . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful idea Margaret – love the songs and the choice of music. Humour and music are a good combination – heartening to see this peaceful yet passionate demonstration. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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