The remain campaign returned to the streets of London with a aplomb last Saturday, and European Movement in Wandsworth and Merton were, more by accident than design, at almost the very front.
Arriving at our meeting point, it was only after the police closed the roads to motor traffic shortly afterwards that the full scale of the attendance became clear, as attendees flowed in from the side streets.
Messages from friends elsewhere in the crowds soon established that the Pall Mall was packed out with protesters from Haymarket stretching round the corner into St. James’ Street - a spectacle later confirmed by TV helicopter footage. All this meant a delay of an hour before any marching could get underway, as we gradually proceeded past Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall, passing Downing Street where messages for Theresa May and her Parliamentary colleagues were being ascribed on postcards.
Were she to be spending the weekend in town, the Prime Minister would have been left in no doubt as to the passion and sentiments being strongly expressed within earshot of her residence. There seemed to be more of a serious atmosphere than some of the earlier marches – as if to reflect the new gravity of the situation now that the stupidity of Brexit is coming to light, with the Government in open conflict. Little wonder that an eve-of-march Survation poll demonstrated 2 to 1 support for a People’s Vote on the final deal – the objective of our campaign over the coming months.
Highlights from the speeches in a sun-drenched Parliament Square included Caroline Lucas (Green Party co-leader) speaking powerfully in support of Freedom of Movement and Ciaran Donovan, the express van driver who had the better of a debate with Jacob Rees-Mogg on the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union. The march also saw the launch of a People’s Vote petition, which European Movement will be promoting on the streets of South-West London over the next few weeks. It’s amazing what we’ve achieved in the face of a seemingly non-negotiable but deeply flawed and poorly organised one-off plebiscite. Now we have strong representation across all political parties, and increased media coverage. But repairing afterwards to a packed bar in Victoria we knew we still have lots of work to do in planning the next steps.
There’s never been a more important time as now to keep the conversations and debates going, and set the UK back to a more positive track!