Well over 1,000 people from all over Yorkshire, the Humber and the North of England flocked to Leeds for the launch of People's Vote North today. It was standing room only as speakers from the world of sport, politics and the NHS, and young people from across the North, addressed a massive crowd from all walks of life, united in their demand that the people be given the final say.
The Leeds rally comes on the eve of the three year anniversary of the EU referendum and amid growing fears that if Boris Johnson becomes the next Prime Minister he will inflict a destructive Brexit on the British people and the North of England in particular.
The rally kicked off a huge summer for the People’s Vote campaign who will be gathering in towns and cities across the UK between now and October with 15 events across Britain all demanding “Let us Be Heard”.
This stands in stark contrast to the 0.25 percent of the population who will vote in the Conservative leadership election over the next month. The People’s Vote rally was open to all in Leeds while Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt prepared to address a members-only, behind closed door event in Birmingham.
Mary Creagh Labour MP for Wakefield and leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign said:
“We read some pretty troubling allegations this morning about the man who aspires to be our Prime Minister. These reports raise some troubling questions about Boris Johnson, a Jekyll and Hyde character, as he seeks to lead the country through the biggest crisis in our post war history. This is the day that the Boris Bubble Burst.”
Speaking at the rally former Liverpool and England international, John Barnes, said:
“Brexit is a disaster. I have a friend who voted Leave and they have changed their mind, because they now have the detail. For me it’s like VAR (Video Assistant Referee) - some people don’t like it, but what I say is it gives you the detail. With Brexit we can now see what has gone wrong, we have the detail, and that’s why we need to go back to the people.”
Hilary Benn, the Leeds Central MP and chair of the House of Commons Brexit Committee, speaking from a People’s Vote platform for the first time said:
"Our nation is divided, Parliament is deadlocked, and there is no mandate for no deal. We know Brexit is a complete and utter mess.
“I have never spoken on a People’s Vote platform, but I am here today because I have come to the conclusion that the only way out of this mess is now to give the people the final say.
“If it was democratic for Theresa May to come back to Parliament not once but twice to ask if we had changed our minds then it is certainly democratic to go back once and ask the British People if they have changed their minds.”
The impact of an extreme Brexit, or a destructive No Deal, on the North was front and centre of this event.
Ellie James, activist from For our Futures Sake and spokesperson for People’s Vote North said:
“As the great Emmeline Pankhurst - another northern girl - once said; Deeds, not words. And there is only one action that will give a voice to those like me. Give the choice back to the people.”
World champion athlete, Steve Cram, former England footballers John Barnes and Peter Reid, as well as former Leeds Rhino star Garreth Carvell, helped launch People’s Vote North, a new organisation designed to make sure our region’s real voice is heard in the debate over Brexit, challenge lazy caricatures and provide support to thousands of activists in the region campaigning for people to have the democratic right to have a final say referendum.
One of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for speakers from the NHS. Vowing to defend our National Health Service from a destructive No Deal Brexit, Dr Hannah Barnham Brown, trainee GP in Leeds and BMA Junior Doctors committee representative said:
"No one who voted in the EU Referendum voted for an impoverished or weakened health service. No one voted for us to lose highly qualified doctors, nurses and care workers. No one voted for drug shortages. That is what we are now facing. That is the reality of Brexit.”
Notes to editors
Hilary Benn's House of Commons’ Brexit Committee has previously published Government analysis of the grim impact a No Deal would have. The figures showed it would make:
- The North East 16% poorer
- The North West 12% poorer
- Yorkshire & Humber 7% poorer
Today’s event was held in the New Dock Hall, Leeds. The hall has a capacity of 1200 and many audience members had to stand