Saturday marked the beginning of a planned winter of discontent as ten to twenty thousand people descended on London to attend the People’s March for Europe, a demonstration aimed at highlighting public disgust at Britain’s departure from the European Union. Had the same level of effort been put into the Remain campaign last year, this event would never have needed to take place.
It is now widely accepted that the Remain campaign lacked any real passion. The reality of the situation is that many people, including myself, assumed that the population would vote to remain and so left it to the politicians to exhaust themselves battling it out on television shows such as Question Time. Then something unexpected happened: Britain voted to leave.
Suddenly thousands of people were disgusted at the result and took to the streets in largely ineffectual protest. Whilst there is some merit to protesting, such as visibility of cause, it cannot overturn a democratic result. Had such a volume of people taken to the streets to promote EU membership in the run up to the referendum then perhaps the result would have been different.
Whilst many who took part did make a serious effort, such as Scientists for EU’s Mike Galsworthy or the thousands of other political activists across all parties who took to the streets to defend the cause, many more Remain voters chose complacency. I naively decided to sit tight in my echo chamber to enjoy the view. However, as my alarm went off at 3:30am on the result day and I tuned in to David Dimbleby reading out the results, my initial thoughts were not to take to the streets in protest, as many did.
Over a year on I still believe that the vote of my fellow countrymen is the wrong one. A vote that will no doubt leave us poorer and our international image diminished. However, I did do one thing several months later. I joined the Liberal Democrats. The first political party I have ever joined, it was a place where I found likeminded individuals who nearly all agree that remaining in the European Union is the best course for the United Kingdom. The Liberal Democrats are the only pro-EU voice in parliament, so naturally this seemed like the best fit for me.
One of my favoured policies is the referendum on the terms of the deal, to be carried out after an agreement with the EU has been made which would allow the nation to approve or reject the deal. This is far more reasonable than the idea that the UK could simply revoke the Article 50 letter and remain. The votes of over seventeen million people cannot simply be forgotten.
Although it may appear as though the mood is changing, there is still much work to do. It is too easy to sit and sneer at those who voted to leave. Since the referendum, many Remainers have decided that telling the opposition that they’re thick is the best route to take. It is not. If we are to achieve an exit from Brexit we must explain to them the reasons why their idea of sunlit uplands is not likely to be realised. We must begin to set the agenda, as every passing day makes Brexit look less likely to succeed. There is much work left to do in order to win this war, in order to do so we must act fast.