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Brexit London march: One MILLION people join People's Vote protest

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Mirror
24th March, 2019 00:56 IST

Around a million people marched on Westminster today demanding a People’s Vote on Brexit.

The Put It To The People campaign said the march has overtaken October's protest, which attracted around 700,000.

High-density crowds packed the streets as protesters set off from Park Lane ahead of a rally outside Parliament.

Crowds have called on the government to give the public the final say on how - and even if - Britain leaves the European Union.

This morning a petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked - meaning Britain would remain in the EU - became the most popular ever hosted on the Parliament website.

By this afternoon, more than 4.5 million people had signed it.

Politicians from across the political spectrum - including Nicola Sturgeon, Tom Watson, and David Lammy - have addressed crowds in Parliament Square as pressure mounts on Theresa May .

Speakers told of the 'lies' during the Leave campaign and the lack of control and 'chaos' of the Brexit process, while urging the PM to let people have their say.

Meanwhile, a separate march by Brexiteers numbering around 200 was addressed by Nigel Farage this morning.

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Marching bands, music, whistles, chants and cheers provided a noisy backdrop to the 'put it to the people' march.

Demonstrators wore blue and yellow berets and flew large EU flags above the crowd as the march slowly made its way to Parliament Square.

A spokesman from the People's Vote campaign earlier said: “It is almost impossible to put an exact figure on the size of this immense crowd because it is spilling out across central London.

"The start of the march at Park Lane has been filled to bursting point and many thousands of people are trying to make their way to Parliament Square through side streets.

"At the time the rally began, people were still arriving in Park Lane. Our estimate is based on professional expert advice and whatever the exact number, there can be no doubt that this ranks as one of the greatest protests  - possibly the biggest ever – that this country has ever seen.

"We have no doubt that this march is bigger than the last with our early estimate putting the size of the crowd at around 1 million."

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James McGrory, the director of the People’s Vote campaign and one of the organisers of the march, said the campaign for a second Brexit referendum is now the biggest mass movement in Britain, dwarfing the membership of the main political parties.

“People from all walks of life see can what they were once offered bears no relation to what is being delivered and they are angry about it because it feels like a bad deal is being rammed down their throats,” he told Reuters.

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Brexit: Revoke Article 50 petition hits 4 MILLION as thousands prepare to march 

The Mayor of London kicked off the speeches criticising ‘party politics’ as delaying a Brexit deal.

He said: “I have lived in London all my life. I have never seen London look so magnificent as you do today.

“Just days ago we were in danger of falling off the cliff which would have catastrophic consequences.

“We have seen party politics repeatedly put ahead of national interest.

“We have seen the government ignore our warnings time and time again.

“It’s time to say loud and clear enough is enough.”

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Addressing the crowd in Parliament Square, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said: “We are one million strong.”

He said he was there on behalf of his 10-year-old daughter.

“She has told me to thank you for campaigning for her future,” he said.

Mr Watson said the Prime Minister’s deal “pleases no-one”.

“If you voted remain it’s a rubbish deal, if you voted leave it’s a lousy deal. There are no winners, only losers,” he said.

He added: “Brexit is stuck in the parliamentary pipeworks and it’s not going to find a way out.”

Addressing his comments to Theresa May, he said: “I can only vote for a deal if you let the people vote on it too.

“Prime Minister, you’ve lost control of this process, you’re plunging the country into chaos, let the people take control.” 

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also took to the stage. She said: “I bring with me today solidarity from Scotland.

“A land where 60 per cent voted to remain in the European Union.

“Our voice has been ignored.

“But it is not merely our voice that has been ignored - but the voice of the 38 percent who voted remain across the UK has been ignored.

“And the voice of those wanting to leave but who could never have contemplated the maze that Brexit has become. Their voice is being ignored as well.

“My message is for every European national living in the UK, in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland.

“We think you are welcome here and we want you to stay.

“What has been done to you by these Brexiteers politicians has been nothing short of desperation.”

Concluding her speech to raucous applause and cheering she said: “Put this back to the people and let us sort Brexit.”

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David Lammy MP for Tottenham also spoke to the protesters.

He said: “They told us that we have £350 million on the NHS. They lied.

“They told us we could leave the EU with all of the benefits and none of the consequences. They lied.

“They told us we would have 40 trade deals the minute they left. They lied.

“And now we come together and say enough is enough.”

Comedian and Great British Bake Off presenter Sandi Toksvig said: “It is women and minorities who will pay the price for Brexit just as we pay the price for austerity.

“There’s no denying we did not have the facts. There were lies all over the country.

“There are those who would like to drive that bus with all of us on it into the cliffs.

“Stop the bus. Listen to the people when they rise up and march.”

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Among those taking part in the march are people who voted to leave in 2016, but have since changed their mind.

Leon French, 24, who works in the educational sector, said: “I am delighted to attend the Put it to the People March on Saturday so that I can make my voice heard loud and clear to Parliament that the public need a final say on this blindfold Brexit.

“I voted to Leave in 2016 and it is now completely clear to me we were given a blank cheque full of false promise.

"The easy solution to all our problems we were told Brexit would be has quickly unravelled to be a mess we will be cleaning up for years to come.

"Britain deserves better than this circus. Now that we know how Brexit will damage the whole of the UK, the public deserve the right to say loud and clear: this is not good enough.”

And Emma Knuckey, 38, from Essex, said: “I’m coming to the march to demand a People’s Vote because I don’t want millions of people paying for my mistake.

"Seeing so many people who did not get a say in this be so affected is horrific. The younger generation who will live the longest with the result, and the 5 million people made up of Europeans in the UK and Brits in Europe, deserve a final say.”

People of all ages took part and were passionate about the cause.

Amelie Upson-Sandland, 10, says she is worried she won’t be able to see her family as she lives in France.

With a European flag displaying the flags of each of the countries her relatives are from, the schoolgirl said: “If Britain leaves I’m worried my family won’t be able to see me or stay with me in France.”

Dad Philip added: “I might have to get some kind of long term visa. But it’s more than that, we want to see all of our relatives. We are all over the place.

“It’s Europe we want to be part of. We are European you can’t take it out of us.”

Leaders agreed to extend Brexit to May 22 if Mrs May can get MPs to back her deal in the Commons at the third time of asking.

If the vote is not passed, the UK will have to set out an alternative way forward by April 12, which could mean a much longer delay - with the UK required to hold elections to the European Parliament - or leaving without a deal at all.

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