Pro-European Union groups formed in the North West – as they did in the entire country v in the aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum result. The failure of the campaign for a second referendum, the 2019 general election result and subsequent confirmation of the UK’s departure from the European Union followed by Covid lockdowns meant many of these groups went quiet. However, the way Brexit has been implemented and the lack of any serious national debate about the consequences have re-energised some of these groups.
A march to re-announce the presence of pro-Europeans
They plan to return to the public conscience with a protest march through central London on Saturday 22 October 2022. The groups aim to meet at 12pm at Park Lane before marching to Parliament Square to demand closer relations with the EU and to convince the public and politicians alike that the UK should re-join the bloc.
Upon arrival in Parliament Square there will be a rally and speeches from both grassroots figures and leading politicians. Confirmed as speaking at the time of writing are ‘Stop Brexit’ one-man protestor Steve Bray, Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for EU, prominent campaigner Femi Oluwole, and London mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita. The organisers aim to add more names to the list of speakers in time for the event itself.
“Science has been badly hit by Brexit so far. We dropped from joint first place with Germany to fifth place on the world-leading European science programme – and now the disagreements over the Northern Ireland protocol means we could drop out of our place on the programme altogether. A huge loss for our science leadership. Remember this science programme was something we helped design and build.
“Then British institutions led the lion’s share of these multinational collaborations that in turn led many global advances. We’ve now lost billions of pounds we invested on it and lost our place on satellite programmes we helped design too. We’ve been pulled away, by our mad government, from our own European teams we helped build. Brexit has screwed over British science leadership in Europe and it’s tragic.”Mike Galsworthy
Transport organised for the event
One group from the North West listed as an official supporter of the event is Manchester For Europe. The group has organised coaches from locations around Manchester to transport marchers to the event and back on the day.
Group chair Joe White said, “Six years after the referendum it is clear that Brexit is not working for the UK. Our economy is suffering from higher inflation than our European neighbours, we have queues at our ports as the government insisted Brexit meant ending freedom of movement and most of Europe is still at a loss about why the UK thought it better to leave the block of nations. Everybody is losing trust in us fast as we try to wriggle out of our commitments to protect the peace process in Ireland. We demand the government abandons its sovereignty-first approach and engages constructively with the EU to address these problems.”
Jon Moore chair of Lancaster For Europe, is also leading a number of members of his group to the march. He told North West Bylines the reasons for their attendance: “We of Lancaster For Europe have been campaigning since spring. We have been in towns from Carlisle to Morecambe. There were no advantages to Brexit experienced by those we spoke to. Now it’s clear there are only downsides, let’s start the process of rejoining!”
Olga Gomez-Cash is chair of the neighbouring group Preston For Europe. She feels that the UK needs to work closely with its geographical neighbours to address common problems. She explained; “Across the members of Preston for Europe, rejoining the EU is a common ideal: for some it is an urgent and passionate desire and for others there’s sadness that the journey will be a long and complex one. It would be easy for this to be yet another topic to be added to the frustrations Brexit has brought with it. Despite these differences, we are all committed to keeping the search for common ground with Europe very much alive. We are going to the march in London because we didn’t give up in 2019, 2020 or 2021… we believe the global challenges we face are without borders, we look forward to joining with others across the country who want to make sure that the long road to international cooperation with Europe is kept on the UK’s political agenda.”
Quotes from National Rejoin March organisers
Peter Corr is part of the committee organising the march. He said, “We have left the EU. We have got over that and now want to start a conversation about re-joining, now that we know that Brexit was a historic mistake, so much so that the majority of British people would support re-joining the EU according to the latest polls. The conversation on re-joining the EU needs to start now!”
Richard Wilson chair of Leeds For Europe who is also on the organising committee for the march observed:
“Our march will send a very clear message to the new PM: Brexit was a terrible mistake for the UK. No one in government is willing to admit that Brexit is a root cause of the cost-of-living crisis, is responsible for the massive disruption being experienced at our ports and airports and has robbed UK citizens of the freedom of movement which we used to enjoy. Brexit is the elephant in the room that the new prime minster must deal with as a priority.”
Those attending the march are strongly advised to check the National Rejoin March website for the latest information about the event. The organisers aim to stage further marches and events in London and other cities as the movement to rejoin the EU grows.
Coach travel from Manchester to London organised by Manchester For Europe can be booked here.