On Saturday 23 March 2019, I joined the People’s Vote march – and made history.
I met a schoolfriend at 11:30, another Manx transplant paying British taxes and living as an “other” in a city of 9 million people, 37% of whom are born outside of the UK. Our parents messaged us throughout the course of the afternoon offering support and admiration that we were joining the thousands of people giving up their weekend to make their voice heard and presence felt on the streets of Westminster. Our mums told us to take care, which turned out not to be necessary. I had never felt so bouyed and welcomed in London as I did today.
Spotting the most creative placards was a fun game while we stop-started along the road to Green Park. The team behind the People’s Vote campaign, who organised the event, handed out daffodil coloured t-shirts and Union Jack flags (the latter of which I passed on, being Manx-born). There were babies as young as a few months old, and people well into their eighties. Every single person was upbeat, friendly, and dare I even say hopeful.
It’s impossible to know the scale of the crowds today without the aid of a drone or helicopter. The BBC have captured this footage, which I caught a glimpse of on Twitter somewhere around St. James’s Park despite the phone networks being down for most of the afternoon.
We were very close to the front of the march and passed Downing Street at 14:15 before the flow of people came to a standstil. Protest groups and ad agencies had utilised electronic billboards showing tweets from politicians throughout the last few years, demonstrating their change of stance on the ‘B’ word that to date has cost us over £40bn.
In years to come, historians will write approvingly of the British people’s passionate, peaceful and successful fight against Brexit. They will say that as our institutions buckled under the strain, Britain found its voice. And you will be able to say to your children and grandchildren: “I was there. I stood up for my country, I faced down the extremists, I protected your future.” So come today. Join us. Let’s get our country back. – Lord Adonis, writing for The Guardian on 23 March 2019
I can’t say for certain that I know how I’d vote if a General Election was called. At this point, I might even say I have lost hope in the current political system to deliver an effective government that could represent the myriad communities that make up our great nation. Perhaps electoral reform is the only way we can realistically hope for change.
I am British. I am an EU citizen. Today, I am proud to call myself a Londoner.