AROUND 30,000 pro-EU supporters lined the streets of Manchester yesterday in protest at the Conservative government’s handling of Brexit negotiations in Brussels, with an additional 20,000 taking part in the anti-austerity march.
The #StopBrexit campaign chose the 1st October not only as it marked the start of the Conservative party conference in Manchester, but also served as Prime Minister Theresa May’s 61st birthday.
The rally was led by the likes of Sir Vince Cable, Alastair Campbell and A.C. Grayling, who along with the march’s organiser Paul French, instilled a sense of power and European pride into the passionate protestors.
Chants of “Bollocks to Brexit” and “Theresa May, f*** off back to the wheat fields” could be heard from the thousands of proud EU supporters amidst the sea of EU flags flying throughout the city streets.
The government drafted in a huge police presence with a 1,000 extra officers being brought in, costing an estimated £2 million, over fears that conference goers might be met with abuse from the protestors similar to their conference held in Manchester where party representatives were reportedly spat at and at least once egged.
Speaking to the crowd at the rally, organiser Paul French proclaimed “We need to stop this madness and stop Brexit! Theresa May, your time is running out!” before unveiling their centrepiece, a satirical float of the Tory leadership which led the march into the city centre.
When talking to Salford Quays News Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, stated that there should be another vote at the end of the two year negotiation process.
He proposed an “exit from Brexit” as he and his party “simply want people to have that choice.” He went on to say, “how else are we meant to resolve this issue? The government can’t just quietly smuggle something through if it’s going to be profoundly damaging”
Addressing himself to Theresa May, Cable concluded by saying “we want to respect and protect the position of the 3,000,000 Europeans living in Britain, 130,000 in Greater Manchester.”
Commenting on Sir Cable’s suggestions, Ealing conservative councillor Ian Proud told us “He’s doing quite a nice job to grab the headlines, but whether he’s in touch with reality, that’s a different ball game.”
Liberal Conservative James Hamblin, focusing on the idea put forward by majority of speakers of a second referendum, highlighted that “It is not appropriate to be repeatedly asking people the same question just so you can get a different answer…”
This protest follows a turbulent year for Brits following the EU referendum last year, with tensions rising between pro and anti EU camps and frustrations on all sides over the negotiation process so far.
Protestors at the rally insisted on a better alternative to the potential hard Brexit we maybe being lead towards. One woman who took part in the protests with her young daughter simply put “I don’t want my child to grow up in a world where people make decisions for us”.