The anti-Brexit rally in Cambridge was a great success, with more than 200 people filling the area next to the Guildhall in Market Square Cambridge to mark a year of resistance to Brexit. Cambridge never supported Brexit, with three-quarters of residents voting to remain, but a year on we can see how right we were to reject it.
Cambridge Stays Chair Paul Browne welcomed everyone, noting that he was standing on what was possibly the world’s tiniest stage, but that at least unlike Theresa may it was…and the crowd interrupted with “Strong and Stable!”. He then talked about the damage that we can clearly see a year on from the Brexit referendum, but also the many successes of the pro-Remain cause in fighting for accountability and the rights of EN nationals. He called for those there to campaign more strongly then ever now that the situation has again changed utterly following the general election, stressing that we can either tackle the real social and economic problems the UK faces, or we can do Brexit, not both!
Paul was followed by Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, who focused on the importance of staying a member of the Single Market and participating in EU educational and research programmes and regulatory bodies, issues of particular importance in Cambridge. The also reminded the crowd of how Theresa May had a year ago blocked a proposal to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, creating the huge uncertainty that persists to this day.
Lord Richard Balfe, a Conservative Peer, was up next, and reminded the crowd that the best argument for the EU had nothing to do with money, but that there is a moral duty to be part or Europe as only through cooperation in the EU can our collective future prosperity and security be achieved. He then noted that the duty of any opposition is to oppose, and such opposition is needed now more than ever, and spoke of how members of the House of Lords are preparing to prevent a hard Brexit, but that it is inevitable that eventually no Brexit will be the only viable option.
Lucy Nethsingha of Cambridge Liberal Democrats noted that it was David Cameron’s hubris and widespread anger at the failures of political leaders that had delivered this result that has left the UK weaker, more divided and more distrustful of politicians than ever. The Government’s Brexit strategy seems to be built on fantasies, while the reality is that we already have a fantastic deal as a member of the EU.
The final speaker, Jeremy Caddick of the Green Party, reminded us that Brexit is a tragic distraction from the greatest challenge facing us today, namely how to find a sustainable way of living on this planet. We need to join with the EU and countries all over the world to face this challenge, though sadly the current government shows no awareness of the importance of this.
Paul then thanked the speakers, and led the crowd as a final chorus of “Stop Brexit” echoed around Market Square.
And for once it didn’t rain!
Our rally was reported by the Cambridge News, whose report also includes some video of speakers.