This Brexit Business: marching for the People’s Vote

The march, as seen in a plate glass window.

On Saturday morning, we got up at 4.30 a.m. and didn’t get to bed again till 12.30 on Sunday morning.  In between, we drove to York; forked out £60 for tickets and travelled in a coach to London where we spent the day marching, before reversing the procedure in the early evening.  At our ages – we’re both long past retirement age – you don’t do things like that unless it’s for something really important.

It is. For us, and on behalf of our children and grandchildren, this Brexit Business matters more than almost anything else.

We are members of North Yorkshire for Europe, and joined for the day with York for Europe.  We came to London to march and campaign for a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.

York and North Yorkshire organise themselves.

Don’t talk to us about the Referendum being the last word on The Will of the People (a barely more than 50% of those who voted changing the course of a nation’s history?).  Don’t tell us what The People voted for – nobody exactly knows.  Don’t tell us that when companies like Airbus and Siemens warn they may have to leave the UK in the event of a no-deal, that they are simply part of an irresponsible Project Fear.  Yes, we are fearful of Brexit: for us, for our families, for those in insecure employment, for those European citizens now resident here who had considered the UK their home.

On arrival in central London, we joined 100, 000 others on a slow two hour march down Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square and Whitehall and into Parliament Square, which completely failed to accommodate us all.

Despite our serious purpose, we had fun.  Look at the banners, the flags, the posters, the facepaint and wigs; the young, the old: marching, hobbling, manoeuvring wheelchairs and buggies – you’ll even spot one fellow being carried by Donald Trump (as if …).  We enjoyed Mexican cheers (the vocal version of a Mexican wave), bouts of chanting (‘What do we want?’ ‘A People’s Vote!’ ‘When do we want it?’ ‘Now!’).  We chatted with marchers from Wales, Devon, Germany, Reading, France, Lambeth, Scotland…..

Then speeches. Rousing, energising speeches from the likes of Caroline Lucas MP, Tony Robinson, Vince Cable MP, David Lammy MP.  Passionate speeches from a hospital consultant, from the young people of OFOC (Our Future, Our Choice).  Video contributions from a WWII veteran and from Chuka Umunna MP.  We cheered them all, and at the end, especially the courageous Tory MP Anna Soubry.

What we want is a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, because apart from a principled few, most MPs are obeying the Whips and toeing the party line, regardless of either their own beliefs, or those of their constituents. If you voted for Brexit, and the government comes up with a good deal for the British people, you have nothing to fear from a People’s Vote.  The government will win the day, and we Remoaners will have to shut up.

If you think that, having learned the terms of the Final Deal, the people should have the Final Say, please sign the petition for The People’s Vote.  It’s here.

PS.  The Daily Express front page on the day of the march…..  there are no words…. don’t they read the news?

  Click on any image to see full size.

Leeds marches for Europe

We don’t do protest marches much.  Well, we did when we lived in France, obviously, because protesting is a way of life there.  Here?  Not so much.

But with Brexit only a year away, and with the intolerable consequences to our economy, our services, our multi-cultural and inclusive way of life becoming daily more apparent, we wanted to join the Leeds March for Europe, arranged in solidarity with events being held in Edinburgh, in Ipswich, in Exeter, in Pontypridd, in Maidenhead, in Ipswich and on the Isle of Wight.

Teresa May, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage lead the way.

We arrived.  We were initially disappointed.  There was a van, topped off with May, Johnson, Gove and Farage and a netball pitch sized banner waiting to lead things off, but were there really only enough people present to fill the Headrow in front of the Town Hall?

Setting off from Leeds Town Hall

Well, no as it turned out.  We set off with new-found friends from York, but soon dropped back to see the real size of the procession.  It went on …. and on.  We met people from every political party and none.  We met OAPs against Brexit.  We met Grannies against Brexit.  We met teenagers against Brexit. We joined in chants orchestrated from different parts of the route.  We met anti-Brexit groups from Hull, from Kent, from Sheffield, from….all over the place.  We were peaceful and good humoured and met surprisingly little heckling.

Back outside the town Hall, it was time for speeches.  We heard from politicians from every main party (well, not UKIP….) and cheered them all.  We heard from the impassioned and articulate young founders of OFOC!      (Our Future, Our Choice) some of whom hadn’t been able to vote in the  referendum, but will have to live with its consequences.  We heard from Joan Pons Laplana, a Spanish nurse who has worked in Britain for 17 years, who has a family here, and who no longer feels welcome. We heard from Elena Remigi, founder of Our Brexit Testimonies, from a young British research scientist who also feels her future threatened, and from Sue Wilson, leader of Bremain in Spain.  And we heard from The Big Names.  Prof. AC Grayling courteously and respectfully demolished the arguments on the placard held aloft by the sole courageous Brexiteer who had joined the rally.  Our own MEP Richard Corbett was as incisive and to the point as ever.  And Lord Adonis brought the whole affair to an energising  conclusion, working the crowd so that we all agreed, as we began to make our way home, that we each have a responsibility to work towards making sure that the disaster which is Brexit never actually takes place.

 

Click on any image to see it full size.

Olympic Fever?

Two posts in quick successsion. Sorry. But this one is topical now, although I first posted it exactly four years ago. And it made me sad. And cross.

Four years ago, England was in the grip of Olympic Fever, and we were in London, sharing all the optimism and the feel-good factor with Londoners from every possible cultural background. Today seems so different. The country seems suffused in post-Brexit economic gloom, post-Brexit immigrant antipathy, often towards citizens who’ve lived here thirty years. Only the headlines from the Daily Express and the Daily Mail promote the fiction that all is well, and all will continue to be well. It’s all very depressing.

From Pyrenees to Pennines

The Thames at sundown

A fortnight ago, our local paper, La Dépêche du Midi had ‘Londres, capitale du monde!’ as its banner headline.  The story was, of course, the Olympics.  We’re unaccustomed to this particular paper taking much notice of anything that occurs outside south-west France, but ‘les  JO’ (Jeux Olympiques) have been big news.

Not as much as in England though. When we arrived in the UK, we were unprepared for Olympic Fever.  Red white and blue banners and flags hang from houses.  Shops have Olympic-themed window displays, and if you want to buy mugs, some paper napkins, or fancy a new cushion, you’d better want them plastered with the Union Flag.

Across the Thames: a view of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Still, we enjoyed staying with Tom and Sarah in Olympic-happy London, and spent an evening round the South Bank area.  Eat near Borough Market and you’re sure of a tasty…

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