2017-09-09 14:28:21 UTC
Thousand of anti-Brexit protesters have taken to the capitals streets, as
the People’s March for EU rally kicks off what Remain supporters have
dubbed the “Autumn of discontent”.
Pro-EU supporter Sir Bob Geldof, actor Sir Patrick Stewart and Tony
Blair’s former spin-doctor, Alastair Campbell, are among those who have
backed the event, which terminates Parliament Square, and where Sir Bob
will address the crowd.
Earlier crowds gathered at Hyde Park corner to hear speakers including
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, who described the event as " a really great
demonstration of our support for Britain's participation in Europe.
"We've got to absolutely stop the Brexit which this rather incompetent,
disfunctional and disunited government are trying to force upon us," he
"We continue to demand that the public have a choice.
"Do we want to rush ahead, jump off a cliff, or do we want an exit from
Marchers will be hoping to sway MPs set to vote on the vexed issue of the
government’s proposed EU Withdrawal bill in the House of Commons, with a
second reading set for early next week.
The vote is seen as a key test of prime minister Theresa May’s already
shaky authority, having drawn vocal criticism from with members of her
own party within the past few days.
Today’s march coincides with a number of other events planned to take
place across the UK ahead of party conference season - at a time when
Britain’s increasingly fraught negotiations with the EU have been making
The event in London is being echoed in Manchester, where demonstrators
will march to a conference centre hosting the first day of the Tories’
annual autumn gathering.
It comes at the end of a week in which pro-EU Conservative MEP Charles
Tannock revealed he had obtained an Irish passport, and admitted he was
“ashamed to be British in many ways” following the declaration on June
Mr Tannock, who represent London in the European Parliament, lashed out
at some fellow Tories for what he termed their “arrogance, hubris, petty
nationalism and triumphalism”.
Mr Campbell has accused high-profile Leavers of misleading voters in the
run-up to last summer’s historic referendum, and claimed a second vote
would result in a win for Remain.
He said: “The Leave campaign was filled with disinformation and one huge
falsehood – the £350 million that was going to find its way into the NHS.
“That £350 million never existed. The people of the UK were misled.
Monthly reports are published on the economic impact of leaving the union
– and they are all negative.”
In an apparent breach of political convention, the marches will be
supported openly by the Lib Dems, with Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom
Brake describing Brexit as “the battle of our lives”.
Organisers have sought to bolster public support for the rally on
Facebook, with a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds garnering more than
£40,000, under the slogan “Unite, rethink and reject Brexit”.
An event spokesman said: “From soft to hard-core Remain, from ordinary
citizens to MPs, the anti-Brexit movement has one common goal - No Brexit.
“We firmly believe the UK is better off in the EU, we don’t want to see
the erosion of our civil rights, and those of future generations.
“We will get our voices heard on the international stage.
"With leading organisations, politicians and public figures behind our
cause, we will show that the British people will not be led blindly over
a cliff’s edge."