Tens of thousands will be marching to Parliament on Saturday June 23 to demand a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal.
After two years of political turmoil, backroom arm-twisting and internal machinations in Westminster over Brexit, the people of Britain will make their voice heard outside Parliament on Saturday.
The people’s march for a People’s Vote, expected to be the biggest Brexit protest yet, comes on the second anniversary of the 2016 referendum and just days after the Government underlined how it remains intent on a hard Brexit that will destroy jobs and damage public services, with ministers saying the idea of walking away with no deal at all remains an option.
In sharp contrast to most of the debate about Brexit since the referendum, Saturday's demonstration will not be dominated by politicians, pundits or any member of the establishment or elite.
Instead, the march will be led by people from every corner of the United Kingdom and all walks of life – farmers, doctors, teachers, delivery drivers, students, fishermen, veterans from the armed forces, office and factory workers, as well as former supporters of Brexit – representing the growing popular demand to take back control of the issue with a democratic vote on the final deal before Britain leaves the EU.
Although speakers will include a leading politician from four UK-wide political parties – the leaders of the Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable, Conservative MP Anna Soubry, Labour MP David Lammy and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas - the platform will be dominated by citizens and campaigners from across the country. This represents a decisive shift in the People’s Vote campaign away from parliamentary lobbying to a popular movement involving more than 130 grassroots groups up and down Britain.
A ‘Summer of Action’ is being planned to put MPs under greater pressure so that they reassert their sovereignty over the process and recognise the only way to sort out the mess political leaders have made of Brexit is by offering a democratic People’s Vote. This will focus efforts around key moments in the autumn when MPs will have to decide whether to support a bad deal that is so clearly against the national interest.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of People’s Vote protesters will arrive in London having travelled there by train, boat, plane or road from all across the UK. More than 50 coaches have been booked, almost four times the number required in February at the last Brexit march and 500,000 leaflets have been distributed in recent days.
Speakers, including Gina Miller and Sir Tony Robinson, will declare that Brexit is a big deal - too important to be left to the politicians – and definitely not a done deal. But attention is likely to focus on the range and depth of grassroots activists demanding a People’s Vote.
Femi Oluwole, a Sheffield law graduate who co-founded the youth movement Our Future, Our Choice, said: “People marching on Saturday are terrified that their futures and their kids’ futures might be written in a Brexit deal negotiated by the likes of Theresa May, David Davis and Boris Johnson. We didn’t trust the establishment in 2016. No blooming way are we going to trust them with this. The People’s Vote March is the start of a national campaign that moves beyond Parliament and reminds people they have every right to keep control of their future.”
Brigadier Stephen Goodall, a 96-year-old decorated World War Two veteran who is travelling up from his home in Devon to lead the march, said: “When I look at the politicians in Westminster who are now so recklessly seeking to sever some ties for their own narrow purposes, I feel a sense of shame and despair.”
Pete Speight, a Team GB Olympic freestyle skier and British halfpipe team athlete from Sheffield, said: “The Brexit that was sold to our country during the referendum promised that leaving the European Union would create a brighter future for the UK. But it's becoming increasingly clear that this simply isn't true. That’s why I support a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, and that’s why I’ll be marching for a People’s Vote in London this Saturday.”
Dr Lauren Gavaghan, a consultant psychiatrist from Bristol, said: “There is nothing good that is going to come for the NHS from Brexit. And remember, there is no Brexit dividend, no matter what they tell you.”
Dami Olatuyi, a former Vote Leave campaigner, said: “If you believe it's wrong for people not to have a referendum on EU membership, it should also be wrong for the country to not have a referendum on the terms of the deal we're being offered.”
Yvonne Wancke, a maths teacher from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said: “I am marching because I love the North East and because a Hard Brexit would be disastrous for our region. This was not what people voted for, and it is essential that a vote on the final deal is taken back to the people.”
Sam Hickmott, a 20-year-old gardener from Bristol, said: “I feel totally let down by the way politicians have behaved. Brexit may suit the billionaires and the establishment in London, but for young people like me it offers nothing for the future. We have been betrayed. I’m marching on Saturday because I want somebody to listen to me. We must have a say on the final deal - otherwise it will be me and my generation left to pick up the pieces.”
Thom Jackson, a dental worker from St Albans who is disabled and suffers from ME, said: “Getting anywhere for me is a big deal but Brexit is a big deal for me and for all people in this country. That’s why I will be there on Saturday.”
James Wilson, a mussel farmer from Bangor in Wales, said: “As a fisherman, my business relies on selling live mussels to countries across the EU. A bad Brexit deal could mean my mussels are dead by the time they reach my customers. Much of our funding for research in this country relies on the European Union but the past two years since the referendum have shown that this Government can’t give us any real clarity on the deal we need for businesses like mine. I’m joining the People’s March this Saturday because we need our voices need to be heard before any final Brexit deal is signed.”
Susannah Rae, a water resource specialist from Perth in Scotland, said: “I am marching because I want a vote on the final deal so that people can vote knowing exactly what they are voting for. I voted Remain as did a majority in Scotland. I also want the UK government to respect our devolved parliament and to stop using Brexit as a means of eroding our democracy.”
Claire Thomas, an activist and campaigner from Bath, said: "It’s heartbreaking to see my country being torn apart by a government with no emotional intelligence. The future of our country depends on the next generation and now we can see what Brexit will really mean for them we have a duty to demand a final say. Brexit chaos may be reigning in Westminster but it’s OK to change your mind. Brexit is not a done deal. That’s why I’m joining people from across the country to march for a People’s Vote.”
Emily Spence, a secondary school teacher from Buckinghamshire, said: “My students feel they are Europeans. They want their futures to lie with their neighbours abroad, and that’s why I’m marching for a People’s Vote.”
Notes to editors
The People’s Vote March will take place on Saturday 23rd June from 12:00 noon.
All the speakers will be at Pall Mall, will lead the march to Parliament Square, and then speak on the stage.
At Parliament Square, we have a large stage and screen from which we will hear from the speakers.
The march heads off from Pall Mall down Whitehall to Parliament Square. At the stage, we have a pit below the stage for cameras, a press tent for interviews, and a vantage point on the opposite side of the square. The march is a public event but access to the media areas will require advance accreditation.