The Liberal Democrats’ anti-Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake MP urges Remainers to join the March for Change and tell the new prime minister to put a halt to the Brexit mess.
When we think of great moments of political upheaval, social change and protests for justice, the images which often come to mind are marches. There is something acutely powerful about seeing so many come together to create, for one moment in time, a community of like-minded people. A crowd which passionately believes in a common cause will have its cause noticed. Marches become beacons of free speech and spawn mass movements which captivate people’s attention.
We saw this recently in Westminster with the march for climate change, and next weekend we will see another wonderful spectacle, as a rainbow of people flow through the streets of London, in the annual celebration that is London’s Pride march. These marches can seize or reinforce an agenda and create a new public narrative for how we view today’s challenges.
While their disruptive methods caused frustration and, for some, may have overstepped the mark, no one can deny that Extinction Rebellion made people start discussing the environment round the kitchen table. It couldn’t be clearer that when people take a stand, they become impossible to ignore.
My first march was 30-and-a-bit years ago with Amnesty International, highlighting the plight of prisoners of conscience abroad. Last month, as one of over 100 MPs I strode in solidarity to meet Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy, during his hunger strike in protest at his wife’s continued shocking and unlawful detention. I was also incredibly proud to be at the largest march this country has ever seen, back in 2003, against the Iraq war, when Charles Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats led the political protest in the face of overwhelming criticism from the Tory and Labour parties.
But I was even prouder, earlier this year, to be part of the largest march seen in the UK since then, when over a million people took to the streets of London to show their support for a People’s Vote.
And that’s why I’m delighted the Lib Dems will be joining thousands of others on July 20 at the March for Change – unequivocally demanding this Brexit mess be stopped.
MORE: New anti-Brexit march planned for weekend new prime minister takes officeAgain the Lib Dems were prominent, just as we have been dominant in the fight against Brexit since the day after the referendum three years ago. Back then, many people described our position as desperate, out on a limb while Jeremy Corbyn urged that Article 50 be triggered immediately. Yet over time, more people joined our cause, our rallies became bigger and we made more allies in our fight against a government increasingly committed to the most chaotic of Brexits. Our message has grown louder and more people have taken to the streets to shout loud and clear to Labour and the Conservatives that the Brexit they want to deliver is not in our name and not what the majority want.
Some will disregard the marchers’ voices. The Tory candidates to be our prime minister are putting rocket boosters on their campaigns to reach the dreaded No Deal cliff-end sooner. Jeremy Corbyn is choosing to bury his head even deeper in the sand.
We the Lib Dems not only hear those voices, we are channelling their energy.
I am proud to be the anti-Brexit spokesperson of the largest, loudest and proudest party committed to demanding better than Brexit and diverting us from the disastrous trajectory we’ve taken. More and more people are rallying behind our banner as we inch closer than ever to stopping Brexit.
So, when we march in just a few weeks’ time on July 20, we will do so with a more purposeful stride. I hope you will join us.