More than a thousand people are expected to congregate in Leeds for the launch of the People’s Vote North campaign this weekend to declare that the region’s voice is heard in Westminster.
The Leeds rally comes almost three years to the day since the last referendum and amid growing fears that if Boris Johnson becomes the next prime minister he will inflict a destructive Brexit on the British people – and the North of England in particular – that was barely mentioned back in 2016.
World champion athlete, Steve Cram, former England footballers John Barnes and Peter Reid, as well as former Leeds Rhino star Garreth Carvell, will help the launch the new organisation designed to make sure the region’s “real voice” is heard in the debate over Brexit, challenge lazy caricatures and provide support to thousands of activists in the region campaigning for people to have the democratic right to have a final say referendum.
The rally, held at New Dock Hall opposite Leeds Armouries at 12.30pm on Saturday, will be the first of 15 “Let Us Be Heard” demonstrations in towns and cities across the UK through a long summer of protests.
The House of Commons Brexit select committee has previously noted that a no-deal Brexit would make the North East 16% poorer, the North West 12% poorer and the Yorkshire and Humber 7% poorer.
Committee chair Hilary Benn, supporting a People’s Vote, will speak for the first time on the campaign’s platform.
He said: “On Saturday, we will come together to send a message that it would be a democratic outrage for a new prime minister to try and impose a destructive no-deal Brexit on the people of the North and the rest of the UK without us having the chance to be heard through a final say referendum. Going back to the people is the right thing to do and the only way to break the deadlock.”
Loose Women panellist and former Coronation Street star, Denise Welch, is also backing the campaign.
She said: “I live in the North because I love the North. And of the many reasons I am worried about Brexit is the fear I have that the North will be hit hardest. I am not an expert on politics or economics, but I talk to people all the time and I know I am not alone in being worried about the future. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone says it is undemocratic to ask people again. We didn’t have the facts. We didn’t have an honest debate. We now know so much more, and it is crazy not to check with people whether they still want to go ahead.”
Ellie James, an activist for the youth-led campaign group For Our Future’s Sake (FFS), is also supporting the campaign.
She said: “The North has taken lots of hits over the past few years, but we’re tough, realistic, intelligent people who know that our prosperity in the past has been based on looking out on the world as it changes, trading overseas and competing on the global stage. That means we collaborate, inspire and adapt with all sorts of communities.
“I am proud to be one of the many young people from the North carrying this message. We will be hit the hardest, for the longest by a disastrous no deal that no one voted for. We are ready for the fight for our future and the futures of those following.”