On Saturday I marched to Parliament Square, London with Unite for Europe, in protest against Brexit. If you asked me beforehand why I was marching, I’d have found it hard to articulate an answer, beyond “because I have to do something”. But now I’ve had time to digest the views and stories expressed on the day, I think I can explain it a bit better.
If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy. – David Davis
I was marching for the children, holdings signs with slogans like “I want my future back”. They will have to live with the impact of Brexit for the longest, yet they had no say in the referendum. They’ve been brought up with a promise of the chance to study, to travel and to live anywhere in the EU. They probably go to school with friends who’s parents are EU nationals. If the Government continues on its current course, by the time we leave the EU a lot more of them will be of voting age, but will not have had a say on the issue. Their future is being taken away, without their consent.
I was marching for the EU nationals, who have made their lives, their careers, and their families here. Many of them have fallen in love with UK nationals. Many have fallen in love the the UK itself. They work here, pay their taxes here, and are net contributors to our public services. They had no vote in the referendum, and now they’re being told they might not be welcome any more, treated like bargaining chips by the Government.
I was marching for the Remain voters. 16 million people who cast their vote against Brexit, who are now being ignored and told that “The Will Of The People” doesn’t include them. Who speak out against their country heading down the wrong track, and are called names by politicians and journalists alike, who wish to see them cowed and silenced. They are still here, and they aren’t going away.
I was marching for the Leave voters. People who cast their votes in good faith, on the promise that the UK could leave the EU but remain the in the single market. On the promise of £350 million per week for the NHS. Who are now being used as pawns by a government desperately seeking to justify a wholesale withdrawal from the EU, EEA, Customs Union, Euratom and anything else they can while they’re at it. They didn’t vote for this, and they deserve better.
Democracy is not one question, asked once. 52% vs 48% is not a mandate for sweeping constitutional change. The Government and Parliament cannot outsource their accountability to a referendum. We must stand up, all of us, and hold the Government to account. If we voted Leave, we must make sure we get the Brexit we voted for, or reject it. If we voted Remain, we must ensure the Government and our parliamentary representatives cannot continue to ignore us. We must speak for those who stand with us, but are denied a voice.
The Government will make its Article 50 notification this week. This is the beginning of a 2-year process. Once we know the result of the negotiations, we must have a say in whether we accept it or not.