It was 4:00 am on a chilly Saturday morning in autumn when I woke up to catch my train going to London. Following a call from the People’s Vote campaign, I had decided to join a public march in support of a second referendum on the UK’s 2019 exit from the European Union (‘Brexit’). It was a historic day when a public window of opportunity was being opened with the collective aim of potentially halting and changing the detrimental course of Brexit.
Around midday, I finally arrived at the scene of protest: Under a clear sunny sky, people were waving EU flags and chanting pro-European slogans. There were also many creative posters of protest bobbing up and down in a wave of demonstrators. The whole scene reminded me a bit of a carnival parade back home in Germany. People were peacefully protesting all along the approximately 4-kilometre walk from Hyde Park to the Parliament of Westminster.
Present among the crowd that day were representatives from several political parties (Labour, Conservative, Greens, LibDems, etc.), NGOs supporting young activists, women groups, LGBT rights, etc., demonstrators from different age groups (pensioners, students, families with children, etc.) as well as people from all across the UK (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, etc.) and even abroad (France, Germany, Poland, etc.). There were people with different backgrounds from all walks of life.
That day, there was an overwhelming wave of EU emotional outpouring onto the streets with demonstrators filling them like a peacefully-forward moving stream or a pulsating artery of passion for Europe. The campaigners’ march demonstrated the successful channelling of protestors’ emotions as a necessary means (public pressure) to a desired end (political lever).
Later on, I found out that there must have been about 700.000 protestors gathering in the streets that day. The People’s Vote campaign has been said to be the largest protest since the demonstration against the War on Iraq in 2003. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has described it moreover as a ‘historic moment’ for democracy.
What motivated me to wake up that early and to join this special march was my genuine wish for the UK to maintain a strong role in shaping the European Union in the future. Europe’s oldest democracy continues to set an excellent example for many young democracy-aspiring countries in the EU. The UK represents a beacon of hope projecting Western values into ‘darker corners’ on the world stage. As such, it is and will always remain a solid rock for a lasting democratic foundation in Europe’s architecture.
- People’s Vote: https://www.peoples-vote.uk/march
- BBC News: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45925542
- Le Monde: https://www.lemonde.fr/referendum-sur-le-brexit/article/2018/10/20/brexit-manifestation-a-londres-pour-un-nouveau-referendum_5372337_4872498.html
- Der Spiegel: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/brexit-grossdemo-befeuert-forderung-nach-neuem-referendum-a-1234354.html
- Der Standard: https://derstandard.at/2000089758537/Brexit-Demonstration-in-London-fuer-zweites-Referendum
Do you have some family in the UK, British (Erasmus) friends or simply enjoy spending your holidays in the country of The Beatles? If yes, feel free to make use of some additional resources below which you can use as a tool-kit in order to promote German-British relations.
- Help your relatives apply for dual citizenship with these forms here:
- Learn more about how Brexit affects the Erasmus programme: https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/brexit-update
- Find out more about the British-German Association in Koenigswinter: https://www.debrige.de/en/