The grassroots movement to stop Brexit returns to the streets this weekend with a mass march in Manchester. Organiser PETER FRENCH issues a rallying cry
A friend of mine who will be taking part in Sunday’s Stop Brexit march has only recently become an active participant in our fight. He told me he had decided to get involved after a discussion with, of all people, his six-year-old son. His child had asked him why we are leaving the EU and how he felt about it? ‘It’s very complicated,’ he had replied. To which his son had said: ‘Well what are you doing about it?’ My friend says he wouldn’t be able to look his children in the eye if he now didn’t do all he could to stop Brexit.
The reason for choosing Manchester for the next national Stop Brexit march was to redress the criticisms of London-centrism we received when we organised the ‘Unite for Europe’ march, earlier this year. We felt it was important to give the North a chance to have its voice heard. Plus, of course, we wanted to make the most of an opportunity to take our message right to the front door of the Conservative Party Conference.
But since we started organising the rally, I have learned a few more facts that make Greater Manchester an even more pertinent place for this protest. I have learned, for instance, that the city has the highest proportion of students in the country – some 85,000, with a further 350,000 within one hour’s drive. As my friend correctly identified, in his discussion with his son, it is on younger generations that Brexit will take the heaviest toll. This fight is for them, which is why we hope students will come out in force this weekend.
It is their future that will be diminished and destroyed if Brexit goes ahead. It will deny them choices we have all enjoyed for years. It will have an impact on every aspect of their lives, from their freedom of movement, to their education and job prospects and their very life opportunities.
The 1960s and 1970s were a time when students and young people were able to bring about change in many areas, through the power of protest. Now, Brexit has created for the students of today a cause they must rally to.
In 50 years time, the architects of this Brexit madness – many of whom are going to be in Manchester at the Conservative Conference this weekend – will be long gone. But, unless we can prevail, their selfish, disastrous legacy will not be.
That’s why we need to stop this process right now, and to turn the tide of history. This is our country too and our protest can show that 52% does not equate to the will of the people. This weekend is a chance to tell the government that 48% (and growing!) cannot be ignored.
To all parents and guardians I would say, please join us, help us make the world I’m sure you want for your children. To all young people and students I would urge you to think about your future now and just what kind of country you want the UK to be. This is your future we are fighting for. Please choose to be a part of shaping it. Be an active participant in creating the country and world you want to live in. You have more influence than you can imagine, history has shown us that.
I would like to thank the people of Manchester for welcoming us and allowing us this opportunity and I would like to thank ‘Manchester for Europe’ for their support throughout and for a wonderful collaboration. And it is collaboration that we need to make our campaign succeed. This is not a ‘Tory-bashing’ protest.
There are many pro-EU Conservatives. We have tried – so far unsuccessfully, it must be said – to recruit some to speak at the rally. They are all welcome to join us on the march. This is not about party politics. Our message could not be more straightforward: let’s stop Brexit once and for all.