Pro-European groups Britain for Europe, the European Movement UK, Scientists for EU and Healthier IN the EU have joined up and are launching their new partnership with two crowdfunded rallies, one at the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Sunday 24 September and one at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Sunday 1 October.
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The crowdfunder for the two pro-European rallies reached its initial £30,000 target within only four days, demonstrating the extent of support. The rallies are being organised as positive opportunities to celebrate the huge benefits of EU membership; emphasise that democracy didn't end on 23 June 2016 and is an ongoing, participative process; and show just how much backing there is for a future at the heart of the European Union. The crowdfunder target was extended to £60,000 and we almost achieved that target.
Both pro-European rallies will provide a platform for MPs to voice their convictions at the Party conferences, where they might not be allowed to speak out otherwise.
At the Labour Party conference on Sunday 24 September, a march will assemble at The Level, Brighton, BN2 9SY from 12.30pm which will go past the Labour Party conference to Hove lawns, where there will be a rally with speakers including Caroline Lucas MP, Peter Kyle MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP and Richard Corbett MEP. This will be followed by a special evening of debate, music and comedy from 7pm at the Brighton Dome, featuring guest speakers such as Polly Toynbee, Ian Dunt, Catherine West MP, Darren Jones MP, Seb Dance MEP and Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. The day of action is being hosted by Brighton and Hove for Europe.
The rally at the Conservative Party conference on Sunday 1 October is being held in Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, M4 3BG between 2pm and 6pm, hosted by Manchester for Europe. It will offer special guest speakers, EU themed street stalls, live music and entertainment and the opportunity for participants to learn why we believe that we really are better together. Sir Vince Cable MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats, Stephen Dorrell, former Conservative cabinet minister and chair of the European Movement UK, Richard Corbett MEP, Julie Ward MEP and Jolyon Maugham QC will be speaking amongst other high profile figures.
Stephen Dorrell, chair of the European Movement UK, said:
“Democracy is a process, not an event. A healthy democracy is a dialogue in which all voices should be heard. And it must allow the voters to change their mind. Democracy – the open challenge to those in power to explain themselves to voters – has never been more important.
“That is why cross-party pro-European voices need to come together to challenge the current trend of events. The European Movement is pleased to be collaborating with other leading pro-European groups at our rallies: Britain for Europe, Scientists for EU and Healthier IN the EU, to celebrate and positively affirm our shared standpoint and express our concern about the threats Brexit poses.
“Now is the time to speak out for the future we want – one side by side with our European partners and neighbours and inside the EU.”
Tom Brufatto, chair of Britain for Europe, said:
“The majority of politicians know that Brexit is going to be disastrous for Britain, but they need to see the extent to which the public increasingly supports EU membership for them to have the confidence to speak out about it. That’s what we’re going to demonstrate to them.
“Cabinet ministers have been in disarray. Comments from one senior politician have been quickly rebutted by a supposed colleague time and time again and we don’t even expect Theresa May to last until Christmas. This really inspired us to come together as a unified campaign with one goal – to show the momentum of the pro-EU movement triggered by the Brexit vote; and that politicians from across the board should join us in continuing to make the case for EU membership.”
Dr Robert Davidson, CEO, Scientists for EU and Healthier IN the EU, said:
“Many people voted for Brexit because they were fed up of Austerity and wanted better funded public services like our NHS and schools. Instead, Brexit is the new excuse for Austerity and we're told that the people can't change their minds.
“Our NHS is on its knees, there is a Brexit brain drain of skills and talent from universities, hospitals, schools, and every working sector in the UK. People are already poorer because of Brexit and inflation is rising.
“We are taking our supporters to the party conferences to tell our politicians directly – British democracy is an ongoing, participative process and it did not halt on 23 June 2016: we are bringing democracy back to Brexit.”
Caroline Lucas MP -
“Britain is at risk of being ripped out of the EU by a government without a clear plan, and a set of ministers who want to inflict an extreme Brexit upon us. We can't stand by and watch this happen - which is why it's great to see people working together on the issue. The Green Party want Britain to remain as close to Europe as possible - and in particular we'd like to see a continuation of free movement and membership of the Single Market.
“Young people will suffer most from an extreme Brexit - losing both their right to live, study and work across Europe and also suffering from the economic consequences of leaving the EU. Let's not betray young people by shrinking their horizons. Instead we must adopt a common sense approach which reflects the best interests of Britain for future generations.”
Richard Corbett MEP -
“This rally is proof that the idea of European unity and cooperation still has widespread appeal. The alternative vision of Britain tearing up its links with our neighbouring countries is rapidly losing support as the promises made by the Leave campaign fall apart and the reality - that Brexit is a costly, damaging exercise - becomes clearer by the day. Pro-Europeans - who are the true pro-British - are on the march and will insist on the duty of parliament to act in the national interest and the right of the people to change their minds.”
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP -
“I lived and worked in Brussels helping to negotiate the Erasmus scheme. I am a proud European and the departure from the EU to me feels like someone is stealing part of my identity, my rights and my future. Nonetheless, I am a democrat, so I and my party accept the referendum result, but I will continue to make the argument for the European Union and its benefits.
“We are on a 15 year journey to put the case back to the public about the advantages of global cooperation - of which participation within the EU is a vital cornerstone. I most certainly do not support a ‘hard Brexit’ and firmly believe that a Labour government, with the legal and negotiating expertise of Sir Keir Starmer QC, will work more positively with our European partners during the complex and long negotiations ahead than the current reckless approach.
“A Labour government will scrap the Conservative Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits and therefore being part of an agreement with the Single Market and the Customs Union - which are essential for maintaining, industries, jobs and businesses in Britain."
Brighton March and Rally at Labour Party conference – event info:
Manchester Rally at Conservative Party conference – event info: