Pro-European activists in the Grassroots for Europe movement met for its biggest conference yet – and left with a clear message that Remainers are not throwing in the towel after Brexit.
More than 450 local activists representing at least 200 splinter groups travelled to Westminster over the weekend to take part in the event which looked at the next steps for the Remain campaign.
Speakers at the event included AC Grayling, Polly Toynbee, Naomi Smith, Steve Bray, Ros Taylor, Dominic Grieve, Stephen Dorrell, Mike Galsworthy, Emmy van Deurzen and Hugo Dixon.
The event was described by Richard Wilson, chair of the Grassroots for Europe movement, to be a “regrouping exercise for activists” and also a chance to look to the future when the UK rejoins the EU.
Former Tory MP Grieve received a standing ovation after he urged pro-EU campaigners to continue their fight, and predicted that public opinion will swing back to embrace long-held British and European values in time.
There was also a video message from political campaigner Gina Miller, who urged pro-EU campaigners to maintain vigilant scrutiny of future government actions.
“My message to you today – be proud of your passion and patriotism, be positive about your desire to contribute to a more equitable, honest and safe society – be strong in your love for your country and stay committed to resisting those who seek to silence us,” she told campaigners. “We will leave the European Union in 7 days time but we will NOT leave our commitment to speak out to defend our country against those who are seeking to use our island as a laboratory for their ideology.”
Journalist, academic and political economist Will Hutton reminded the audience that Britain remains a European country and that a majority want to remain in the EU.
He explained: “The task for us committed Europeans is forensically to expose all the many ways the truths about Brexit are coming home to roost, to find ways of working as closely as possible with our EU friends, sometimes in new bespoke structures, and to prepare the ground for an eventual formal reassociation with Europe.”
Sue Wilson from the Bremain in Spain movement representing UK citizens in Europe urged campaigners to fight “for the least damaging Brexit, to protect as many of our rights as possible”.
“They [Leavers] would do well to remember that the rights the Brits in Europe stand to lose, they do too. This isn’t about the rights of one million Brits in Europe, it’s about the rights of all British citizens – all 65 million of them,” she said.
Activists left the event vowing to expose in “forensic detail” the lies and truth of Brexit as well as highlighting the damage Brexit is making to the regions, communities and industries.
They will also move activities to consistently making the case for a closer relationship with the EU while developing “new partnerships” with our European neighbours.
The event has had international coverage from such publications as El Mundo, Le Monde, Asahi Shimbun and Suddeutsche Zeitung.