‘Half a million’ rally in London for new Brexit vote

Updated October 21, 2018

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London: Protesters participate in an anti-Brexit demonstration on Saturday.—Reuters
London: Protesters participate in an anti-Brexit demonstration on Saturday.—Reuters

LONDON: EU flag waving Britons rejecting a future outside Europe packed the heart of London on Saturday for an anti-Brexit protest organisers said drew more than half a million people.

The police gave no figures for how many showed up for the massive march and rally outside parliament aimed at pressing the government into holding a second Brexit vote.

But the 570,000 turnout figure reported by campaigners would make the demonstration the largest since 750,000 showed up against the war in Iraq in 2003 according to police figures.

“This feels like a party,” said Liverpool university student Lucy Dogget as she squeezed past a volunteer dishing out bowls of beans on a leafy square facing Westminster Palace. “But it could be our last one before the lights go out.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called Saturday “an historic moment in our democracy” that united “every corner of our country and every section of our society”.

The marchers came in buses and trains from across Britain and even other parts of the EU. They chanted and whistled while marching in support for causes ranging from women’s rights to Britain’s beloved but underfunded NHS healthcare system.

Some wore blue French berets decorated with the golden stars of the EU flag. Others stuck up signs lampooning Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiating efforts.

Many of the posters featured variations on the famous “I have a cunning plan” line from the popular 1980s British comedy “Black Adder”.

Their point was that May seemed to have none at all just five months before Britain is to split from the EU with or without an agreement of how future trade between the two will function.

And all seemed united in a simple message: the Brexit its supporters promised ahead of the June 2016 referendum that set the divorce in motion looks nothing like the one being negotiated today.

“I think people were misled in various ways,” small business owner Peter Hancock said while tightening an EU flag around the neck of his huge bearded collie.

“We want to stay European,” added his wheelchair-bound wife Julie.

Published in Dawn, October 21st , 2018