We must use our anger over Brexit to come together and fight for change

PUBLISHED: 08:51 28 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:56 28 June 2019

Alastair Campbell at the last Let Us Be Heard event in Leeds. Photograph: People's Vote.

Alastair Campbell at the last Let Us Be Heard event in Leeds. Photograph: People's Vote.

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Ahead of her speech at the Let Us Be Heard rally in Cheltenham, For our Future's Sake supporter HILLARY GYEBI-ABABIO explains why the country needs to unite in favour of a People's Vote.

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What a time to be alive.

That's what I thought in 2016, knowing I was about to turn 18 and finally get the opportunity to vote.

The opportunity to be heard was a privilege, fought for years before I was born, by people who saw the importance of ensuring that everyone's voice mattered. From the suffragettes to the broader civil rights struggle, making every vote count has been a deeply political issue. But as I woke up to a leave victory on 23rd June 2016, it felt that something had changed.

For our generation, feeling encapsulated by 'what a time to be alive' shifted from excitement to astonishment.

Our generation was told that this is what the "people wanted" despite the majority of us not backing that outcome; a generation of open, tolerant and outward-looking individuals who believed that the EU was an institution that has served in its core purpose to unite and strengthen us not only nationally, but globally.

For me, one thing has become clear: The astonishment that a lot of us felt when the referendum result came in and continue to feel now, watching the circus that is now our political establishment, must be turned into a force of change.

The constant rejection of the voices of young people must stop. All of us must be empowered to become advocates of truth and democracy, and power must be returned back to the people to have their say and let those we elected to represent us know what we really want.

In coming together, like we are at the 'Let us be Heard' Rally in Cheltenham, like we did in the record-breaking marches, and like we do in our local communities, we are showing that unity is still possible in our society. We are a society of generations who care and are passionate about building a strong and sustainable future for the young to inherit. We stand against the disaster of Brexit, a recipe for destruction that can never, and will never be beneficial for us.

As a black woman, a young person, a student, and a daughter, this is such an important time to be alive. There has never been a better time for people to fill the vacuum that now exists in our politics, whatever their race, age, sexuality, gender, creed, or background. By coming together at rallies and at marches we must fight for the chance to be heard, and fight to be properly represented.

We deserve a say on whether we go through with a Brexit that will deepen the divide in our society, make us poorer, put our NHS, our Universities and Colleges, our jobs, and human rights at risk. There is, however, a clear alternative. We can choose a People's Vote, for the chance to stay in a European Union that respects our essential institutions and seeks to help us thrive through connecting us in a common purpose to our friends and allies abroad.

Our parliament must act on the will of the people as it stands today and a People's Vote is the only way to break the Brexit deadlock.

- The South West 'Let Us Be Heard' event takes place in Cheltenham on Saturday 29 June.

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