Last weekend, I was among the tens of thousands who braved the Saturday morning hangover and marched across Westminster to demonstrate against Brexit. The march has been criticised by Leave voters, who basically argue that now democracy ‘has happened’ it is anti-democratic to campaign against the will of people. The referendum is done, so apparently we need to ‘move on’ now.
I disagree. Politics doesn’t start and end with a cross next to Yes or No. It is a continued dialogue, which should be as lively as it is important. Like in general elections, defeats marks the beginning for the opposition, not the end.
But such mentality is a concern. The fact that so many hold a switch on/switch off approach to politics goes a long way in explaining not only why Leave won, but also why so few of their voters seem angry about being blatantly lied to throughout the campaign, as well as why so many are unaware that the referendum was merely advisory – which is no small detail.
The march can’t reverse the result, but that’s not the point. Protesting is an essential part of the democratic process and in this case, an important step to remind our MPs and friends abroad about the 48% who disagree, and feel part of something greater.
Given the tough EU negotiations ahead, it’s essential to make this clear and push for MPs to reject the result as unreasonable and damaging, which they are legally entitled to. Or failing that, negotiate a deal whereby the UK effectively remains in the Union in all but by name, complying with regulations to maintain access to the single market and limit the real economic loss we already see. The latter option is where I think we’re inevitably heading.
As a EU national who’s had enough of shitty news updates about hostility towards foreigners, it was pretty nice to be around such warmth, wit and optimism. Plus some of the banners and chants were brilliant. Here as a few pictures from the march: