Last Saturday, the largest protest in over a decade was held in London. Almost three-quarters of a million people swarmed the streets of the capital city, shouting a variety of typically British slogans including “bollocks to Brexit” and a revamped version of DJ Otzi’s Hey Baby directly addressing Mrs May. Student’s from Falmouth University were also there showing support with their pasty embellished banner.
Harry Bishop, Welfare President for Falmouth University’s student union, FXU, said: “I’m under no illusion that this debate is causing tension, I’m glad it is, I’m not going to roll over and watch as my future is ripped away from me.
“The universities [Falmouth and Exeter] aren’t involved in the People’s Vote campaign. I have personally supported it since I first heard about it. NUS offered us a pot of money to cover a coach to London so that Cornwall students could join the march. I accepted and worked with them, handing the organisation of the project over to political societies.”
Undesirable is what many believe will become of the United Kingdom if this Brexit deal is allowed to go ahead
Mr Bishop explained that although the union are not actively taking a political stance on Brexit, they are following updates carefully and preparing for all outcomes. However, the student president himself takes a very strong opinion on the matter: “The best outcome of the Brexit discussions would be the end of Brexit discussions and another referendum where there isn’t election fraud, the facts are on the table, and the people can actually see what Brexit looks like.”
The organisers of the march, The People’s Vote Campaign, is made up of over 100 grassroots groups that have been campaigning since the Brexit referendum in 2016 to demand that the British public get a say on the final Brexit deal. The campaign group claim that they are not after another referendum, they are more concerned about what has happened since and what the outcome might be. And like Harry, some 700,000 members of the Great British public share the same concerns.
Concerns include issues with how the original referendum was conducted, the fact that 16-year-olds were not allowed to have a say on a topic that will certainly affect their future and worries over the cost to the average British citizen – in both the literal and figurative senses. Since that disputed day in 2016, far more information (and the revelation of truths) have been uncovered. Information that should have been made available to the public for them to make an educated and informed decision, a democratic decision. Instead, the many were duped, deceived and played for the political gain of a few.
But will this march have any impact of the final decision? If history is anything to go by, no. Britain has only seen one protest larger than this and we all know how that turned out. In February 2003, an estimated one million people called on Tony Blair and his government to stop plans of military intervention in Iraq and they were unequivocally ignored. It looks like history might be repeating itself.
In response to the public’s chants and banners, Theresa May stood up in parliament two days after the march and confirmed that 95% of the Brexit deal has already been agreed upon and that it is the Irish border which causes the majority of remaining issues. The suggestion of a longer transition period was also proposed in her speech but apparently, that would be “undesirable”. There was little mention of the protest at all.
Undesirable is what many believe will become of the United Kingdom if this Brexit deal is allowed to go ahead as it currently stands. It has been predicted that the economy will dip, and a recession could quickly ensue. The financial sector will be depleted, and wage growth will remain stagnant. Manufacturing companies will feel the initial effects with many of the larger names already moving to from the Isles to the continent in an effort to negate any negative effects of the deal. The NHS is warning of carnage with the possibilities of medicines shortages and fewer doctors and nurses as potential candidates from the EU decide to work somewhere they feel more welcome. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
The warnings are clear, Brexit whether it be hard, soft or no deal, is a threat to the UK and all of its residents. No one is safe. In a perfect world, the People’s Vote March will have made an impact. It will be discussed in Parliament and plans will be put in place in order for another referendum to be put to the public with these three options:
- Forget Brexit altogether, admit that we were just throwing a strop but apologise profusely and walk away from all this, rosy-cheeked with embarrassment but grateful that the EU will have us back.
- Agree to whatever deal Theresa May has concocted and wade blindly into a future full of uncertainty.
- Go back to the drawing board and agree that it would be silly to rush such a large decision.
But, we don’t live in a perfect world. The protest was a great day, full of passion, hope and love but it may well have been an exercise in vain. Only time will tell.