Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take part in the Put it to The People March on Saturday. Organisers have been taken aback by the numbers of people signing up for the demonstration from all over the country, including previously Leave-voting areas. People of all ages, professions and backgrounds are coming, bonded by a common message of support for a People’s Vote.
In their own words, here are some of their stories.
Ninety-six-year-old WWII veteran Brigadier Stephen Goodall is travelling 200 miles by train from Devon to go on the march. As their honorary commanding officer, he'll be marching with the Veterans For EU and four generations of his family including his great-granddaughter Nahiya. He says:
"I am an old man and the outcome won't affect me - but it will affect my family and many people that I know for years to come.”
Ninety-four-year-old grandmother, Else Catchpole, who came to England from Denmark in 1947 and lives in Cambridge, is also travelling to London for the march. She will be making her way to London along with 13 other family members, spanning three generations. Else’s daughter, civil engineer Karen Ennis, said:
“My mother is coming with her children and grandchildren and various partners. We are travelling to the march by bus and train from Herefordshire, Cambridge, Manchester, London, Oxford and Cheshire and will meet up on the day. We work as carers, teachers, in the NHS, include an engineer and a journalist.”
Leon French works in the educational sector, in vocational training and lives in Doncaster. He is 24 years old and voted to leave in 2016:
“I am delighted to attend the Put it to the People March on Saturday so that I can make my voice heard loud and clear to Parliament that the public need a final say on this blindfold Brexit.
I voted to Leave in 2016 and it is now completely clear to me we were given a blank cheque full of false promise. The easy solution to all our problems we were told Brexit would be has quickly unravelled to be a mess we will be cleaning up for years to come. Britain deserves better than this circus. Now that we know how Brexit will damage the whole of the UK, the public deserve the right to say loud and clear: this is not good enough.”
Emma Knuckey is 38 years old and has lived in Essex almost all her life. With a background in social care, she has two children and works part time at the University of Essex. In 2016 she voted to leave. She’ll be coming to the march with her family. She says:
“I’m coming to the march to demand a People's Vote because I don’t want millions of people paying for my mistake. Seeing so many people who did not get a say in this be so affected is horrific. The younger generation who will live the longest with the result, and the 5 million people made up of Europeans in the UK and Brits in Europe, deserve a final say.”
Swansea campaigner, Ed Sides, is walking 200 miles from Swansea to London. Now in his 60s he was born and brought up in Ireland. Over a 40-year working career he has lived and worked in five different European countries. He says:
“Leaving the EU would be the biggest decision in a generation, and a lot has changed since the referendum nearly 3 years ago. That’s why we need a People’s Vote.”
Embarking on a journey of over 1,150 km on ferries, trains and buses, student Sorcha Kirker is travelling, from Orkney in Scotland. She is the Vice President (Higher Education) of the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association, and studies archaeology at Orkney College UHI. She is 27 years old. She says:
“I’m coming with around 30 other students, from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). I’ll be leaving home at 04.30 on Friday morning, and then departing from Inverness on a bus at around 9pm on Friday evening to arrive in London at 9am. As we’re driving back again right after the march, we’ve worked out that we’ll be covering some 1,400 miles in three days. Personally I think it’s really unfair because predominantly students and young people don’t want Brexit, and many were not old enough to vote in 2016, yet we are the ones whose futures it will effect for the longest.”
Cyclist friends are riding their bikes all the way to London from previously Leave-voting Sheffield. Cyclists Jane Thomas and Joanne Chapman say:
“We are riding down to London through areas which voted to leave but will be amongst the hardest hit by Brexit and we would urge anyone who cares about the future of the UK to get down for the march on March 23 and show they care. Too often, the London media present everything north of the Watford Gap as if we’re all obsessed with closing our borders and closing our minds. Now that it’s clear how so many of the promises made for Brexit on trade deals or extra money for the NHS from Europe have been broken, more and more of us are concluding it’s only fair to put Brexit back to the people.”
28-year-old Praful Nargund is MD of a business that runs IVF clinics across the UK and Europe. He was born in the UK and grew up in London and his parents moved to the UK from India in the mid-eighties. He has a Danish fiancé. He says:
“I'm marching for so many reasons. Brexit is putting a ceiling on the hopes, aspirations and dreams of young people. Speaking as an entrepreneur, we want our innovations to have the ability to reach 500 million people, as well as having a say over decisions are made in Europe. Being from an ethnic minority we have all seen the rise in hostility and hate crimes. Beyond that having had parents who were immigrants to this country I stand in solidarity with immigrants who have enriched our culture.
“Although my immediate family and I voted remain, I know people in the Indian community who voted to leave on the basis that exiting the EU meant more people from outside could come in. They have realized that the project of Brexit is close-minded, making us more insular and so have changed their minds.
“On a personal level my Danish fiancé and I want to build our life here together and we can't even be sure about her future legal status. The idea that we want to be more closed and less open is an affront to the values and unity of the UK.”
People’s Vote supporters are also helping each other get to the march. Pro-EU activist Tim Evans from Surrey helped set up a crowd funding initiative, which raised more than £11,000 in just 3 weeks. He said:
“Although we couldn’t do anything about the travel time for people coming to the march from further afield, we had the idea to help make it just as easy and cheap for as many other people as we could. The response has been overwhelming. We’re buying train tickets for pensioners, students, people on benefits and people who need special assistance to travel. We even have an 83-year-old wheelchair user who we have agreed to fly down to London from Inverness, so that he can make his voice heard outside parliament with fellow campaigners”.
The efforts of Tim and his colleagues means they are helping 70-year-old Denis Gallagher, a retired charity manager from Blackpool get to the march, who could not afford to pay the train fare. Denis said:
“Thanks to the crowd funding initiative, ‘Get Me to the March’ I’m pleased to be coming on Saturday. I will be marching for the values of the EU: the benefits, freedoms and rights we have as European Citizens. I support a People’s Vote because I believe it’s verging on criminal that my generation is taking away the life chances of young people. Remain is the only good deal.”
Single mum and student Katie Wille from Chester is also being helped to get to the Put It To The People march. She is travelling with her five-year-old daughter. Katie said:
“I wanted to come on this march because I’m increasingly concerned about my daughter’s future and I want to be able to tell her that I tried to do something about it. I could not afford to come on the last one. On Saturday I’m travelling in a group of friends and we are all bringing our young daughters.”
Forty-year-old tango addict Matthew Cooper is coming to the march with over 100 tango dancers from all over the UK including Manchester, Edinburgh, Wales, Devon and Cornwall. He says:
“We’ve had 300 sign ups on Facebook so I’m not sure how many will join. Argentine Tango has a very international social dance community in the UK with deep connections all over Europe. Many dancers work in skilled service industries, the arts and the NHS, all damaged by Brexit, and many are EU citizens. Having a strong personal identification as British Europeans is the main driver for most of us to march. We will assemble in Green Park near the station exit at noon, and join the march when it passes. There will be dancing on the grass, under our banner “It Takes Two to Tango: It Takes 500 Million to Make Peace and Freedom in Europe”".
Members of an online group for autistic mothers, whose day jobs include NGO worker, school receptionist, stay-at-home mum, small business owner, musician, accountant and teacher, representative Naomi Thompson says:
“We are members of an online group for autistic mothers, we meet once a year for what we grandly call a ‘retreat’, and more frequently in smaller gatherings around the country. We put out a post on the group asking who wanted to march together, and a dozen or so volunteered. Because of the obvious absurdities and cruelties of Brexit, it doesn’t seem to be very popular in our community as a whole, which makes sense given the unique sensibilities of autistic people.
“I’m travelling from Devon, we have other people coming in from the Midlands, and someone is travelling down from Manchester. We are marching for so many reasons. Personally I’m sick of having to apologise for my country every time I teach a workshop. I went to Serbia a few weeks ago to train trainers. The young participants were from all over Europe, including the Balkans. What struck me most was that I will no longer be a part of the European family - the next generation of Europeans have so many opportunities, their world is big and their opportunities almost limitless. I want that for my children.”
18-year-old Kira Lewis is a first year war studies student at King’s College in London. She comes from a working-class family in Somerset and is coming to the march with other students who are from the UK and EU. She says: “I was 16 at the last referendum so could not vote. Brexit makes my future uncertain as we are leaving an economic union just as my generation, who has grown up with international values, enters the workforce. On Saturday I’m marching because students are not being listened to so the only way we make an impact is to mobilize.”
The event, beginning at 12pm – “High Noon” - on Park Lane on March 23, will see people march to Parliament Square for a mass rally and keynote speeches.
Notes to Editors
The March will begin assembling at High Noon - 1200 Hrs - from Park Lane. Attendees must use Marble Arch and Bond Street tube stations to gather before the march sets off towards Parliament Square.
More information about the Put It To The People march can be found here: