On a bright Saturday morning, the 20th of October 2018, 123 Cambridge Stays supporters boarded three coaches to travel down to London to take part in the People’s Vote March for the Future. At the end of a week which saw the UK Government, held hostage by its own red lines, the DUP and the extreme Brexiters on its Back benches, fail to strike a deal with the EU, we were traveling to join hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK to call for a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal, with the option to stay in the EU.
As we were gathering we were joined by an ITV Anglia camera crew, who interviewed Cambridge Stays Chair Paul Browne, and several of our marchers, for a broadcast later in the day (short online report here).
Before we departed for London, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner boarded do say a few brief words to us, before dashing off to open an event in Cambridge, and from there down to London to join the People’s Vote march in Westminster. He had warm words of encouragement, but also a message….“Write to your MP!”. Daniel stressed that whoever our MP is, whether they have come out in support of a People’s Vote or not, we need to contact them by emailing, writing old-fashioned letters, and asking to meet them at their constituency surgeries to call for a People’s Vote. This is especially for MPs like Heidi Allen (South Cambs), Lucy Frazer (SE Cambs), Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) and Shailesh Vara (NW Cambs) who supported remain in the 2016 EU referendum, and whose votes will be crucial when any Brexit deal is debated in Parliament. Letters do not need to be long, it’s best to keep them brief and to the point. You can find contact details for local MPs and tips on letter writing on our website.
Then we were off!
We got to London and made our way towards the Animals in War memorial at the Marble Arch end of Park Lane, arriving just before noon to join about 50 other marchers who had travelled by train from Cambridge who had managed to battle their way through the huge crowds to get from Green Park tube station to the memorial. There we learned that there had been so many trying to board trains to the march at Cambridge Station that there were long queues, and many could not get on the 9.44 am train we had recommended, as Cambridge News reported (sorry about that!!).
A few minutes later we joined the thousands walking towards the main start point at the other end of Park Lane was clear that the turnout was far higher then any previous Pro-EU marches in the UK, and it was not a surprise when we cane to a halt after only a few minutes, with most of Park Lane still ahead chock full of marchers, and thousands more filling in behind us. So we stood there, occasionally inching forward, until about 2.30 pm, by which time Parliament Square was already full of marchers, Whitehall was filling quickly, and the speeches well underway.
But we didn’t mind, we stood in the sun chatting with marchers from all over the UK, admired the many witty placards, and even tried a few chants (with mixed results!). The atmosphere was as friendly and cheerful as it was determined!
Then finally at 3 pm we finally left Park Lane and marched past Green Park toward St. James’s St. and Pall Mall, though still at a sedate pace due to the huge numbers. By now we had heard that more than half a million were on the march, and we could well believe it!
We arrived in Trafalgar Square at 4 pm to learn that the speeches had just finished, not that it mattered as the whole length of Whitehall has completely full of people and it was clear that we would not get to Parliament Square this time. Did we mind? Not in the the least! Just being part of a historic event like this was enough. With a final total of 700,000 reported to have taken part, this the largest political demonstration in the UK in over a decade, and possibly the largest pro-EU demonstration anywhere…ever!
If like us you missed the speeches on Saturday you can watch them online on YouTube.
As we made our way back to Cambridge, tired but happy, we reflected on an amazing day.
Will this make a difference? Well, looking at the huge amount of news coverage it already has, but to win a people’s vote we must continue to grow our campaign and keep the pressure up, and most of all keep writing to our MPs.
Thanks to everyone who joined us in London, together we will stop Brexit and win a brighter future for the UK!