With a million on the streets marching for a People’s Vote, tens of thousands crammed into Parliament Square - and many more watching on screens along the route, the people today sent a message to the powerful: we demand to be heard, we demand to have the final say.
Closing the rally, former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine said:
“Brexit is not a decision taken for a parliament or for the next decade. It is a creeping paralysis, where yesterday’s nostalgia distorts tomorrow’s opportunities.
“The very existence of our United Kingdom now hangs by a thread. Brexit will not bring us together. It is the wedge that will drive us apart.
“Europe, our largest home market will embroil us in years of detailed negotiation. Every decision will now be decided by unanimous votes of the remaining 27. Trade deals take so long because they can be hijacked by small groups in any one of those parliaments or even local authorities, leaving us at the mercy of every European pressure group.
“They call it taking back control. They dream of Donald Trump as some newly discovered benefactor when it is clear that the only special relationship he knows is ’America first’. Yes we will save our contributions. The price - our economy already poorer by amounts that dwarf any savings.
“You have come from all over the country. From all parties and none. All generations, every class and creed. You’re British and proud of it. That is the heart of the matter.
“Pride in our history, our traditions, our culture, commits us to the partnership of modern Europe. Our voice has echoed across the centuries in a very different Europe. A Europe of bitter nationalism. A Europe of deep religious divide. We have helped to create a Europe of peace. A Europe where national pride and loyalty can be pooled in a shrinking world to enhance the power and influence of us all.
“In coming today you are marching into history. Not the history of yesteryear but the history of tomorrow.
“Do not lower your sights. Do not avert your gaze. Look straight. Look up.
The rally had been opened by Sir Patrick Stewart, who had also spoken at the People’s Vote launch event in April 2018. He said:
“Eighteen months ago, I stood in an old nightclub in Camden, and spoke to 1000 enthusiastic, if sceptical, audience members.
“Well, I say to you all today, there’s more than a thousand of us now, isn’t there? We haven’t just filled a nice bar, we’ve taken over an entire city!
“We haven’t just impacted the Brexit debate, we’ve transformed British politics.”
Other speaker extracts follow.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan:
“Londoners are EU citizens. Our friends, members of our family, neighbours, colleagues are Europeans who are anxious, worried and heartbroken. My message as Mayor is ‘you are welcome here’.
“Look around, this is what democracy looks like.”
Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary:
“Having spent five hours in Parliament, it is so fantastic to come and see all of these faces.
“It’s an historic moment, we have defeated Johnson again. We are not going to let him whip out with his sell-out deal. We will say no to him again and again. Whatever deal he brings must go back to the people. And we want to Vote for Remain.”
Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary:
“I am here to support this rally for a People’s Vote. I am a Remainer, my constituency is a solid Remain constituency. I have come from defeating Boris and his terrible deal. We will do what it takes to keep defeating him.
“We want to live in an open, inclusive, outward looking world. That is worth fighting for.”
Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary:
“A million people on the streets today. It doesn’t matter what party we support, we are all here in solidarity to call for the people to have a say.
“We must put it back to the people. It should be for the people to decide. This is a pivotal moment in our history and it shouldn’t be left to a handful of MPs.”
John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor:
“We expect the Prime Minister to apply for an extension, to not be a lawbreaker but a lawmaker.
“We don’t respect politicians who use cynicism and opportunism using this issue for powers sake. This is not about division but of unity and solidarity.”
Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats:
“Boris Johnson’s deal will be bad. This is our United Kingdom- we must not put it at risk. We are better and stronger when we work together . A brighter future is possible. We can stop Brexit and get on with fixing problems and making People’s lives better. We must secure a People’s Vote and we must win a People’s Vote.”
Caroline Lucas MP, former Green party leader:
“This would be a Brexit led by the rich, the right and the reckless.”
Joanna Cherry QC MP, of the Scottish National Party:
“As much as I want independence, I want England, Wales and Ireland to prosper as well. We are at a fork in the road, on one side, isolation, on the other, opportunity to reengage with our European destiny.
“Democracy is an ongoing process, Johnson himself didn’t know how he would vote, he tossed a coin.
“Johnson has to send that letter to Brussels. If he doesn’t, I and my colleagues will be back in court on Monday morning.”
Antoinette Sandbach MP, independent Conservative MP:
“I am an independent, they took the whip away from me. My local party voted no confidence in me for resisting no deal. It’s undemocratic and not what people voted for. But it’s honourable that I put my job on the line to protect 10s of thousands of jobs that will be lost in north west from no deal Brexit.
“Your campaign makes a difference, it changed my mind, the support on the streets makes a difference. It makes me walk through the Lobby with my head held high and you made that happen.”
Jess Phillips, Labour MP:
“The only way to make this stop is not to pass Boris Johnson’s deal. That’s just the beginning of years and years of wrangling and negotiations. We must put this to bed with a People’s Vote.”
Ian Blackford MP, Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party, said:
“We stopped Boris Johnson taking us out of Europe at end of the month. Something remarkable is that since BJ became PM since July, there have been 9 significant votes and he’s lost every one of them.
“We are going to keep the unity cross party. We are going to defeat you and you aren’t going to take us out of the EU. We will win the referendum out of the park.”
Dominic Grieve MP, Co-Chair of the People’s Vote Political Committee, said:
“We could hear you in the chamber. This is a pivotal point in our history, we know we are close to a People Vote. The passion and enthusiasm that has brought you here today will win us the argument.
“There are MPs prepared to vote for a deal that they knew wasn’t best for their country. We will make our voice heard that we want an extension long enough to give you what you want. We will work tirelessly to make it happen.”
Hilary Benn MP, chair of the Commons Brexit Committee, said:
“This is a worse deal than Theresa May’s. How do we resolve it but by going back to the people?
“A confirmatory referendum is the answer.
“We have a choice between being inward or outward looking. The strongest argument we can make for The EU project is that has brought peace to our continent. It took politics, courage and leadership.
“Don’t give up. Keep going, be of good heart, be of good cheer and we will succeed.”
Notes to Editors:
The full text of the letter and sign-up page can be found at: