I went behind-the-scenes at a pro-EU march. But was everyone united? [VIDEO]

EU March Main

On Saturday 25 March, thousands of people lined the streets of London, marching over Brexit. Not everyone was pro-EU. But the overwhelming majority were there to show one thing: that they were ‘United for Europe’. And I went behind the scenes, to talk to politicians, campaigners and members of the public about why they are fighting for the EU.

Amid the chaos of Brexit…

Unite for Europe organised the march. Around 100,000 people turned out to make their voices heard; far greater than original estimates. It started on Park Lane, and finished with a rally opposite the Houses of Parliament. And I was there, filming the event as it unfolded:

The march was generally good-natured and welcoming. People brought thousands of EU flags, homemade banners and decorations:

EU March One

At parliament, people were lining up, overlooked by Big Ben, to listen to the assembled speakers:

EU March Two

Read on...

Polarised points of view

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley spoke passionately about his views on Brexit in the film; and argued that the Conservatives’ version of it is bad news:

Theresa May has no mandate to do this. She only got the job because everyone else ran away… The Tory Party were elected with 24% of those eligible to vote. That’s not a mandate… No one voted for this. No one voted for that Hobson’s Choice between an extreme Brexit and no deal at all… She’s gone cap-in-hand now to Donald Trump and she’s desperate for a trade deal. And we know what Trump’s going to offer… TTIP on steroids which is going to open up the NHS to privatisation… And I think the penny’s dropped for many people how bad this is… These are huge decisions… that are being made behind closed doors.

But not everyone there was pro-EU. I spoke to Tommy Robinson, founder of the English Defence League (EDL), although I chose not to include his interview in the video. He said:

What I believe is… the majority of people voted to leave. That’s what the country has to stand by. But I’ve spoken to a lot of people who said ‘we should ignore the 52%’. Which is fascism. I think a lot of people voted [Remain] for finance and money… And everyone else, who comes from the background like I come from… they just thought our culture and our identity is important. And we feel like we’re losing it… But at the same time… I understand why people… wanted to stay. They’ve got legitimate reasons… Both sides bullshitted. Both sides lied.

I was staggered to hear someone like Robinson, the former leader of an openly racist and xenophobic sham of a movement, using the word fascism. Without a hint of irony.

A country divided?

I previously wrote for CommonSpace about the flawed nature of the EU referendum; that, essentially, we were stuck between a rock and a hard place. So for me, there were several underlying challenges at the heart of the Unite for Europe march. How do the people against Theresa May’s Brexit convince the public of their argument? Is it right that a democratic process, albeit a flawed one, should be potentially usurped by a group of people who don’t agree with it? And wouldn’t we, ultimately, be better off outside the EU in the long run, anyway?

While people like Tommy Robinson’s views on Brexit are based on a flawed racist and xenophobic mantra, many realise the EU is in no way perfect. But to push to counter Brexit will deeply divide the country. And we need to remember that division is what the likes of the Tories feed off.

Maybe it’s time to accept we’re leaving the EU, and start to build towards a left-wing future outside of it. But try and make sure it’s one where the Tories don’t even get a look in.

Get Involved!

– Read more from The Canary on Brexit.

Featured image and additional images via Steve Topple/Merlin Norbury

The Canary meets… presented by Steve Topple; created by Merlin Norbury; music via 

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed