On Saturday 22 October 2022 Cambridge for Europe members were among the more than 20,000 people from across the UK (and beyond!) who joined the first National Rejoin March in London.
This march, the first large scale pro-EU march in the UK in three years, marks the beginning of the campaign to rejoin the EU. We all acknowledge that rejoining the EU will not happen immediately or all at once, and that we must build a closer relationship with the EU in the meantime to reduce the problems caused by Brexit, but as several speakers at the National Rejoin March stressed we must be clear and positive that our vision is for the UK to once again be an EU member state.
“End Brexit chaos, general election now!”
The focus of the march was on rejoining the EU, not just because of the overwhelming evidence that Brexit is inflicting serious harm the UK economy at the worst possible time, but also because we want to regain our Freedom of Movement in Europe, and again play a full and leading role in EU programmes such as Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ from which the UK and EU benefited greatly.
But we couldn’t ignore the current political chaos as the Brexiter Government undergoes another change of leadership after the collapse of Liz Truss’s short and disastrous term as Prime Minister. Her premiership was the culmination of decades of work by a small arch-libertarian clique to impose their dangerous low-standards, low tax, low rights economic vision on the UK, with Brexit a key part of their plan. It’s telling that having finally achieved their goal it took less than three weeks for their vision to come crashing down amidst great damage to the UK economy.
With the Tory Party now preparing to impose yet another Prime Minister on the UK, likely either the austerity loving Brexiter Rishi Sunak or the disgraced former PM Boris Johnson, it was hardly surprising that chants of “End Brexit chaos, general election now!”, “No more Johnson, No More Truss, No more lying Brexit bus” , “It started with Brexit, it ends with Rejoin” and “What do we want? General Election! When do we want it? Now!” filled the streets as we marched down Piccadilly, St. James’s street, Pall Mall, and Whitehall towards Parliament Square, reaching a crescendo as we passed Downing Street.
Remain is over. Rejoin is just getting started!
There were many excellent speeches in Parliament Square at the end of the March, as speakers including Madeleina Kay, Femi Oluwole, Molly Scott Cato, Mike Galsworthy Sarah Ludford and Steve Bray made the case that we must build a broad-based, inclusive, positive and genuinely pro-EU campaign if we are to rejoin the EU soon.
The two most heartening, and arguably the most important, speeches were made by MEPs Terry Reintke and Guy Verhofstadt, who told the crowd on behalf of their colleagues in the European Parliament and across the EU that the door is open for the UK to return, and that they look forward to the day that the UK will rejoin the EU. This is a message that needs to be heard across the UK!
As we returned home we could reflect on a successful march. While it was clearly not on the scale of the huge People’s Vote marches of 2018 and 2019, it was encouraging to see tens of thousands of pro-EU campaigners march through London. The campaign to remain is over, but the campaign to rejoin is just getting started!
Thanks to everyone who joined us yesterday, on the coach or travelling by train, we’ll see you at another event soon!