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Reporting from the streets: The next generation lead Saturday's People's Vote March


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The People's Vote March in London on Saturday (October 20) was lead by young people and saw thousands hit the streets.

An estimated 670,000 to 7000,000 marchers for the People’s Vote assembled in London's Parliament Square on Saturday to campaign for a referendum on the outcome of the negotiations with the EU.

While the Met Police struggled to estimate the number of supporters, the start of the march had to be delayed due to the impressive turnout, as there were thousands more in attendance then had been expected. 

At the same time as the London rally, there was a pro-Brexit demonstration held in Harrogate, led by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage and organised by the group Leave Means Leave. Farage called the people marching in London 'losers'. 

The People's Vote march on Saturday followed another which took place in London in June, held on the second anniversary of the EU Referendum.

All generational differences were seemingly overlooked on Saturday, and for once three consecutive generations were brought together with a common purpose.

Large parts of those in attendance said they were not there for themselves but there to fight for the future and rights of the younger generations, including those who were not eligible to vote in the 2016 referendum.

Parents and grandparents marched with pride behind excited children who were effortlessly ignoring the discomfort of carrying their giant handmade signs.

The sheer magnitude of this movement and the fight against Brexit was revealed by the lengths and variety of creativity people put into creating signs and travelling vast distances in order to have their plea for change heard.

Comically, many dog owners even dressed their pets up in EU blue costumes, calling on them them to ‘bark out against Brexit’ as part of the ‘Wooferendum’ Crowdfunder.

From 2pm onwards a collection of high-profile speakers gave speeches in Parliament Square calling for a People's Vote.

Parliament Square gathered much momentum before people took to the stage, with a clear buzz of excitement. 

Gary Lineker addressed the audience, saying: “I think it’s very rare in life that you get a chance to use the benefit of hindsight". Adding: "We have the benefit of hindsight if we use the People’s Vote.”

Afterward a compilation of clips presenting reasons for the People’s Vote was shown, comprised of celebrities voicing their opinions, including Jamelia, Dominic West, Philip Pullman, Josh Widdicombe, Stephen Mangan, Natascha McElhone, Tracey Ullman, Natty, Matt Lucas and Olly Alexander.

“A final deal is not going to be what anyone voted for on either side,” Tracey Ullman said.

Representatives from the three main political parties, including Conservative MP's like Anna Soubry, overcame their differences on stage by fighting for a common goal and addressing the significance of the People’s Vote.

Mayor of London and Labour man Sadiq Khan, who started the march in Park Lane, also gave a speech:

“There are some people who complain that we are acting and what is really important is that those that complain and say that a public vote is undemocratic, unpatriotic, realise that in fact the exact opposite is the truth. What can be more democratic, what can be more British than trusting the judgement of the British people?"

For many, Saturday's protest was not just about the UK breaking apart from the EU but the UK becoming fragmented and broken within, and considerable attention was put on the looming threat Brexit has to the Good Friday agreement.

A young woman from Northern Ireland, introduced by comedian Patrick Kielty, spoke of her home’s unstable past in an attempt to shine an important light on the volatility of any proposed Irish border.

“I am fortunate enough to have grown up without the fear of being bombed, without the fear of losing a sibling in a terrorist attack in the pub and without the black cloud of violence looming over my head. Brexit threatens all of this,” she said.

“One camera, one police officer or one customs post and it will turn into the perfect attack for power militaries who want to reignite the violence,” she added.

The impact some people believe Brexit will have on the poorest people in society was emphasised by young women from Hull in Yorkshire and Ynys Môn in Wales.

The young woman from Hull said:

“We are a city that has education rates that are low, investment rates that are low and employment rates that are low and to be honest, often our optimism about the future is even lower. And that’s why places like where I grew up voted leave and because the Brexit elite promised us investment in our public services, promised us investment in our worldwide shipping trade, promised us the hope that comes with taking back control.”

“Where are those promises today,” she later questioned.

The young woman from Ynys Môn said: “We know that Brexit will hit the vulnerable the hardest for the longest. Where men bearing the brunt of Boris Johnson’s short comings. People of colour living with the consequences of Nigel Farage’s lies. The working classes living in Jacob Reese Mog’s brave old world.”

“Democracy means we do not have to accept their vision of the world,” she added.

The last young speaker, who was from Fife in Scotland, spoke of everyone’s personal stake in Brexit.

“Like many of you, I have a personal stake in Brexit too. From my Danish flatmate, my German partner, my family, fellow students and community. Every single one of us here knows someone with something to lose,” he said.

Theresa May has already ruled out a second referendum and has comitted herself and her Government to ploughing through with leaving the European Union in 2019. 

Yet, as the UK’s departure scheduled for the 29th March 2019 rapidly approaches, only time will tell if Mrs May, or any one in Government, will start listening to the thousands who marched on Saturday.

If the People’s March achieves nothing else, no one can deny it has become an incredible source of inspiration to millions of people.

All photos by Arantxa Underwood 

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