Anti-Brexit campaigner GINA MILLER on the atmosphere of heady patriotism which spread throughout the March for a People’s Vote.
We came in our tens – more likely hundreds – of thousands and what made the March for a People’s Vote exceptional was that so many of us had never felt the need to protest before.
There we were – Labour, Lib Dem, Green and, yes, Tory – voters marching shoulder to shoulder. We came from all over the country, from all walks of life, age groups, ethnicities, faiths and no faith at all, and what united us that beautiful Saturday was a sense of utter despair about what the Brextremists on both sides of the House are doing to this country that we all love so much.
I have been critical of the BBC, but to be fair to the corporation the news bulletins that night acknowledged the majestic and undeniable scale of our endeavour: we, the people, had something to tell our elected members and we said it with good grace and some humour, but we said it powerfully, emphatically, and in a way that could not longer be ignored.
There was an atmosphere of heady patriotism and a sense of duty in Parliament Square as senior figures from all of our principal parties put aside their differences to speak with passion and integrity about our common cause.
There were big stars there from show business and politics – household names who have distinguished themselves in so many ways – but, for once, there was no egotism, no jostling for position, but a sense of common purpose and unity. I would like to think Jo Cox was looking down on us all approvingly that day: for a few amazing hours we lived up, I think, to her best hopes for all of us.
There have been many people who have been feeling isolated and frightened by what has been happening – so many of them afraid to speak out – but what strength and comfort they must have drawn from seeing on that gloriously sunny day that they were not alone. For every one of us on that march – and my goodness there were so many of us who took the trouble to be there – there were thousands more who were with us in spirit and willing us on every step of the way.
Nobody talked of terrorism or the death threats a number of those who turned out – including myself and Anna Soubry – received in the months leading up to the march. Nothing and no one was going to stop us representing our country at her very best that day as those that threatened us had represented her at her very worst. We defied them by being there, and, of course, we acknowledge what a superb job the police did in keeping us all safe and protecting our sacred, democratic right to protest.
The next day, predictably, the Brextremist Sunday papers did their best to ignore us, and, on Monday, when Jeremy Corbyn suddenly felt able to show his face again – and it was Boris Johnson’s turn to do a disappearing act as the House debated Heathrow – the government did its level best to pretend that nothing at all had happened and it was once again business as usual.
All those of us who marched know, however, that nothing will ever be quite the same again in our politics and the Brextremists, in their hearts know it, too. For one, brief, shining moment we, the people, took control of Westminster, and, if there is one thing I learnt from that great and unforgettable day, it is this: we are not the kind of people who are going to give up easily. And we are not going to allow anyone to bully us or tell us our views don’t matter. They matter a great deal. This is our country and we love it too much not to fight for her with all the might that we can muster.
At The New European, we pride ourselves on the high quality of our contributors and experts, and believe we play a valuable – and much needed – role in media plurality, offering an alternative perspective to the right-wing, anti-EU outlets dominating UK media. We depend on the support of our subscribers and readers to cover our costs. Your contribution, however small or large, will help ensure our sustainability. Please click here to choose a plan.