Half a million people have come together today for the biggest demonstration on Brexit yet, according to official figures.
The People’s Vote campaign has had stewards stationed at regular intervals estimating the size of the vast crowd that backed up Park Lane and spilled into Hyde Park before it set off towards Piccadilly and a mass rally in Parliament Square.
Shortly after Midday the sheer weight of number forced the closure of not only the southbound but also the northbound carriage way of Park Lane as the size of the crowd soared far above the massive march for a People’s Vote in June this year.
A precise figure is impossible with tens of thousands waiting along the route, but stewards issued an estimate on the crowd size as 570,000.
This makes it the second biggest demonstration this century behind the 1 million estimated to have protested against the Iraq War in 2003 - but bigger than the 400,000 who marched for the Countryside Alliance the previous year.
The People’s Vote March for the Future were told it was now time to send a message directly that voters will not forget or forgive MPs if they allow a bad deal to be rammed through Parliament - or blindfold the public about the long-term cost of Brexit.
As part of the campaign, called #WriteThisWrong, 100,000 postcards are being distributed which have been imprinted with the words: “Brexit has already become a dog’s dinner – the whole process is going badly wrong. And it’s only going to get worse.”
Marchers were encouraged to write a personal message on the other side of the postcard and address it to their MP before handing them to People’s Vote volunteers for delivery direct to the House of Commons next week.
The campaign also launched an innovative new email tool, integrated into the People’sVote website, where people can put in their postcodes to find their MP and write personalised text to their elected representatives.
Speakers at the rally include London Mayor Sadiq Khan together with MPs from Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru. They will join the likes of Deborah Meaden and Delia Smith in a star-studded line-up.
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, sent a surprise video message of support to the rally promising that the SNP’s 35 MPs would give their unconditional backing for a People’s Vote. She said:
“Let me say this loudly and clearly, if the issue comes before the House of Commons, SNP MPs will support a People’s Vote which includes the option to remain in the EU. The Leave Campaign has already gone down in history as one of most disingenuous, dishonourable and downright dishonest electoral contests of modern times. Those responsible should be utterly ashamed of themselves.
“Instead of a coherent vision and clear prospectus setting out what a vote to leave the EU would mean, all we got was waffle and that infamous lie on the side of a bus. Incredible though it may seem, things since then have got even worse.
“The Tory government’s handling of these negotiations has been chaotic, incompetent and shambolic. Having spent two years telling us that no deal was better than a bad deal, the Prime Minister is now preparing to pile pressure on MPs to vote for a bad or blindfold deal on the grounds that ‘no deal’ would be catastrophic. She is trying to scare the UK into the frying pan out of fear of the fire. It is a scandal and it should not be accepted.”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, speaking ahead of his platform appearance, said
“Today will go down as an historic moment in our democracy. A moment when in their thousands, people from every corner of our country and every section of our society will take to the streets – coming to make our voice heard.
“We’ve heard some complain that a public vote would be undemocratic and unpatriotic. But the opposite is true. There’s nothing more democratic - nothing more British - than trusting the people to have the final say on our future.
"The lies, the mistruths and the deceptions of the referendum campaign have now been exposed, and it’s clear the will of the people is changing. No one voted to leave the EU to make themselves poorer. No one voted to make life harder for our children and grandchildren. No one voted to see our NHS damaged. And no one voted for the shambles that this Government has created.”
Delia Smith, the TV personality and food writer, said:
“This is the most important issue in our lifetime. I am so afraid about what is happening to our beloved country and the people making grave decisions on our behalf. When the votehappened we were not fully informed. Now we know the dire consequences, just two words will do: unmitigated chaos…the NHS will lose doctors and nurses, large companies will move out, factories will close, jobs will be lost. And what are we doing? Stockpiling drugs and building lorry parks.
“The only way we can avoid this total madness and win back our future has to be aPeople’s Vote. My message to MPs is please sort this out. Let the people you serve have their say…So come on MPs, you are ones that represent us. On behalf of all of us: Let’s be having you!"