Unity for Europe

About 9 months ago, I wrote a piece here about the horror and despair I felt about the outcome of the EU referendum. Have my feelings changed at all in the intervening time? In all frankness, no. Brexit is proving every bit as bad as I had feared. In the time since the referendum we’ve witnessed attempts to undermine the independence of the Bank of England, the judiciary, the civil service, the BBC and the sovereignty of Parliament. The integrity of the United Kingdom is threatened. The fall in the value of the pound is now feeding inflation into the economy while financial services firms begin to enact plans to move operations into the European Union.  Racism is normalised into the political mainstream even as the first warnings of job shortages begin to set in as people choose not to stay in the UK. We’ve seen the early signs of the promulgation of a Dolchstoßlegende from a Leave camp that had never believed it would win and seems keen to pre-emptively lay blame for their own failure. The putative benefits to Brexit have begin to dissipate while the risks begin to crystallise.

That’s why I found myself at the Unity for Europe March to Parliament today. Getting on the Tube at Marble Arch I  joined the Liberal Democrat contingent, managed by a minor miracle to meet up with a friend on Park Lane before walking through to Parliament Square.  We watches speeches from Nick Clegg, Alastair Campbell, Peter Tatchell and David Lammy; Lammy is surprisingly blunt in saying his own leadership is now following the UKIP line as much as the Tories but the best speech is from Clegg in making clear how many of the wounds since the referendum have been inflicted by the government on itself. It’s noticeable that the Liberals are very visible throughout; Labour much less so. At one point the arrival of a sound system playing ABBA makes me wonder if I’ve stumbled into a Pride march by mistake. We bumped into a few famous faces like Tim Farron  along the way and enjoyed quite a lot of the placards – ‘Hurdy Gurdy Players Against Brexit’ and ‘Botanists Against Brexit’ (complete with Rafflesia hat) probably deserve to win some form of award, although my personal favourite remains the concisely eloquent ‘Tut.’ The one that sticks in my mind though is a banner that looks like an old NUM banner. It reads ‘Our Yorkshire Rose:Jo Cox.’

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