Kingston activists turn out in force for one of the biggest UK protests this century

Organisers of the People’s Vote campaign estimated a crowd of 700,000 marched on London’s most famous streets to demand a second referendum on Brexit.

Protestors held their home-made signs as they marched to Parliament Square. Photo: Ellie Piggott

Dozens of Kingston protestors joined the march to represent their constituency, which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. Remain took 61.6 per cent of the Kingston vote in the June 2016 referendum, compared to 46.6 per cent nationwide.

Sam Foulder-Hughes, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Kingston-upon-Thames who attended the march, voiced his concerns about the effect of Brexit on the local community.

He said: “Brexit is really going to affect our hospital in Kingston. The hospital is worried about the effects of Brexit and whether it will be able to get enough nurses and foreign staff.

The protestors chanted ‘We demand a People’s Vote’. Photo: Rebecca Deuchar

“It’s a chance for everybody, whether they voted leave or remain to have a say on what Theresa May comes up with and I think that’s really important in terms of holding the government to account.”

The campaign demands that the public have a vote to determine the final Brexit deal.

The crowd included children, families and even a few dogs, holding signs that said “EU make me feel (mighty real)”, “Brexit sucks!” and “Never gonna give EU up.”

Chiara, 39, an Italian citizen, and Alex, 33, an English citizen, travelled from Edinburgh to join the march. Previously this year, they embarked on a cycle around 26 EU countries.

Chiara and Alex cycled around 26 EU countries to exercise their freedom of movement. Photo: Ellie Piggott

Chiara said: “We did it to enjoy our freedom of movement, while we can. Alex is a British citizen and I’m an Italian citizen, and we have a fear, like many couples, that we are going to get split apart by Brexit.”

Chiara added: “Brexit is something that the government aren’t going to back off from and people at this stage cannot do anything, so it’s effectively a dictatorship.

“But it’s better to actually do something than not to anything at all.”

The march ended with a rally at Parliament Square, where protestors heard from a range of People’s Vote campaigners, including celebrity chef Delia Smith, leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Vince Cable and MPs Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has been a strong campaigner for the People’s Vote, also marched with the protestors and addressed them at the rally.

Khan said: “What’s really important is that those that say the public vote is undemocratic, is unpatriotic realise in fact, that the exact opposite is the truth.

“What could be more democratic, what could be more British, than trusting the judgement of the British people.”

Celebrities such as Hugh Grant, Dominic West and Tim Minchin support the campaign.
Many too young to vote in the 2016 referendum attended the protest. Photo: Ellie Piggott

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of the SNP, sent her support via video. In the June 2016 Referendum, Scotland voted in favour of staying in the EU by 62 per cent.

Sturgeon said: “Let me say this loudly and clearly, if the issue comes before the House of Commons, SNP MPs will support a People’s Vote which includes the option to remain in the EU.

“[May] is trying to scare the UK into the frying pan out of fear of the fire. It is a scandal and should not be accepted.”

Absent from the march was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was elusive with his views on the EU in the 2016 Referendum.

At the same time as the London march, an anti-Brexit march took place in Northern Ireland. Organisers estimated the crowd to be 1,000. Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU by 56 per cent in the referendum.

‘Fromage not Farage’. One of the pro-EU signs at the rally. Photo: Ellie Piggott

Further to this, Nigel Farage headed a pro-Brexit protest in Harrogate, organised by the group Leave Means Leave, which took place simultaneously to the London march. Organisers said roughly 1,200 attended.

The MEP was a key figure throughout the Leave campaign in 2016 and resigned from the UK Independence Party following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Speaking at the protest, Farage said: “The evidence suggests that about a third of those that voted remain now say we’re democrats and think the government should simply get on with it.

“And that’s our message – get on with it, fulfil your promises to us, you said if we voted to leave it would happen, it needs to.”

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