Well-known names from the entertainment, sporting and business worlds are sponsoring coaches from their home towns to help campaigners take part in the “Put It To The People” march in London this Saturday.
The growing list of sponsors includes actor Jason Isaacs (Liverpool); broadcaster Joan Bakewell (Manchester); advertising executive and film producer Trevor Beattie (Birmingham); comedian and actor Steve Coogan (Manchester); businessman and chair of Stoke City FC Peter Coates (Stoke); Joe Hemani, Chairman of tech firm Westcoast PLC and Vice President of Chelsea FC (more than one coach); actor Natascha McElhone (Brighton); TV cook and majority shareholder of Norwich City Football Club Delia Smith (Norwich); and actor Sir Patrick Stewart (Huddersfield).
They’ve each paid £1,000 or more to pay for a coach to bring people from across the UK.
The writer and director, Armando Iannucci, who has created hit shows including The Thick Of It, is sponsoring a coach from Oxford to help get campaigners to the Put it to the People march on Saturday 23rd.
Armando Iannucci, said:
“When government whips vote against their own legislation, when the Prime Minister tries to take No Deal off the table but makes her MPs vote to keep it on, and when an Opposition that says it supports a People’s Vote urges its MPs to abstain from voting for one, I believe Brexit’s gone well and truly through the looking glass.
“Voters have been left befuddled and bemused by what’s going on in Westminster and I think the only sensible thing left is to put whatever Brexit Deal Parliament comes up with to the voters one last time. It’s just one more vote to settle matters; what’s the problem? The Prime Minister’s now on to her third.”
TV Cook and majority shareholder of Norwich City Football Club Delia Smith is sponsoring the ‘East Anglia Express’ coach from Norwich.
Delia Smith said:
“I am delighted to sponsor a coach to help people to get to London on 23rd. I want to make sure East Anglian voices are heard again in the streets around Westminster. Get to London on the 23rd!”
Actor and comedian Steve Coogan and writer, journalist and broadcaster Baroness Joan Bakewell are sponsoring coach travel from Manchester. Steve Coogan, the star of Alan Partridge, went to school in Middleton and later studied at what was Manchester Polytechnic. Baroness Bakewell grew up in Stockport.
Joan Bakewell said:
“I believe in Democracy. That’s why I believe the people should have a vote about the final settlement: do they want it or do they think how we are, in the EU is a better deal?
“I believe we should remain but will respect the outcome of a second - and fair - referendum.”
The actor, Sir Patrick Stewart is sponsoring a coach from his Huddersfield. Sir Patrick has starred in a number of theatre, cinema and TV roles, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, in a career spanning more than half a century. He grew up in Mirfield in West Yorkshire and was also the Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield for ten years. He was knighted for services to drama in 2010.
Sir Patrick Stewart said:
“I’m delighted to sponsor a coach from Huddersfield to help get people to the Put It To The People march on Saturday 23rd.
“The damage Brexit is already causing to our communities and country is clear. Businesses are closing, companies are cutting staff, the NHS is suffering and the opportunities for future generations of travelling, working and living across Europe without restrictions are at risk.
“The Put It To The People march may very well be our last chance to demand a democratic final say on this mess before it’s too late.
“This is High Noon for Brexit - when anyone who cares about the future, anyone who feels betrayed by broken promises in the last referendum, anyone who wants to prevent years more of this madness should come to make their voice heard. It’s now or never.”
In total, more than 160 coaches have already been booked by local campaign groups, to get people to the demonstration in London on Saturday 23rd March. A train has also been chartered, which will bring more than 600 people to London from the West Country.
Several of the coaches have been organised by young campaigners and university student groups from around the UK, including Falmouth, Swansea, Cardiff, Glasgow and the Scottish Highlands. But hiring a coach for such long distances is costly.
Now Joe Hemani, Vice-President of Chelsea Football Club, has stepped in to help. He has agreed to donate £5,000 to sponsor several of the coaches, booked by young campaigners, to help cover their costs of getting to the march.
Joe Hemani said:
“I know how vital Freedom of Movement is to businesses and people who need to travel, work and live across 27 European countries. But under Brexit, those benefits will be to taken away from future generations.
“Seventy per cent of young people in the UK voted to stay in the EU in 2016. And two million young people who weren’t old enough to vote in 2016 haven’t even had their voices heard on Brexit but will now be affected.
“I am glad to be supporting young people going on the “Put it To The People” march. Now we know about just how bad Brexit will be, the people must be allowed the final say.”
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, who is co-founder of For our Future's Sake, the People’s Vote campaign group led by students and young people, said:
"Young people and students are travelling from across the United Kingdom to the Put it to the People march on 23rd March.
“We're really grateful to Joe Hemani for his generous support to ensure that as many students and young people as possible can make our voices heard at the Put It To The People March.”
Organisers of the march have been taken aback by the numbers of people signing up for the demonstration from previously leave-voting areas. Coaches are travelling from places including Chesterfield, Doncaster, Lincoln, Peterborough, Stoke and Sunderland, which all voted to leave the EU by heavy margins in 2016.
One man, Edmund Sides, is walking to the march from Swansea, and a team of cyclists are riding their bikes all the way to London from Sheffield.
People travelling from Penzance in Cornwall face one of the earliest starts, leaving at 3.50am. But campaigners travelling from the Highlands and Islands face the longest journey – starting out from Inverness at 8pm the previous day, Friday 22nd March.
The People's Vote march last October was generally acknowledged to have been one of the biggest protests London has ever seen.
The Put It to the People march on Saturday the 23rd is also shaping up to be huge, with the total number of sign-ups already exceeding those for the last demonstration.
Notes to editors
For further information about how to book coach travel to the march: