Critics will claim that protesting is an outdated habit that people have taken on through centuries to make themselves feel useful and in the right even though it doesn’t achieve change. One may or may not agree. However, on top of making one feel exemplary, marching for a People’s Vote or protesting is a great way for a citizen to exercise his or her democratic right of freedom of expression for a cause they believe in. On the 20th of October 2018, over 700.000 protesters claimed the streets of London, voicing their opposition to Brexit and seeking a People’s vote on the final Brexit deal. It was one of the biggest mass mobilisations of its kind in the UK. The people marched not just to feel virtuous but because so much is at stake for them and because Brexit will have a detrimental effect on their lives. The march increased the legitimacy of the issue, social media visibility was over the roof, the message spread all across the UK and the world and many politicians made statements acknowledging the importance of the event.
After such a successful march in October, I believe it is a great idea to join the ‘Put It To The People March’ on the 23rd of March. Firstly, because the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on the 29 March 2019, so it is a chance for us to march and voice our opinion. It is also a very accessible way for a lot of people that aren’t very involved in politics or don’t know how to get involved in politics, to mobilise and contribute to a cause they believe in.
Furthermore, it is important to March for a People’s Vote because the Brexit negotiations are a continuity of confusion and chaos, there is still no parliamentary majority for Theresa May’s deal and little if any progress is being made. Many politicians, including the Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, have started to realise this and have decided to back a People’s Vote. Politicians know that at this point in time, neither Leavers nor Remainers are happy with how the Brexit negotiations are going. Therefore, the vote should be put back to the people.
A People’s Vote is essential because it is also another chance to remind the Brexiteers that the referendum result was very close (51.9% to 48.1%) and cannot be interpreted as a clear statement of the will of the British people, a claim that the Brexiteers are always making ... "we have to deliver on Brexit because Brexit was clearly what people wanted". Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that 30 million people were not on the electoral register or did not vote, many were not eligible to vote then because they were too young. Should the 30 million and the voice of all the remainers be ignored? Also, the closeness of the result meant that there was no mandate for a hard Brexit, which is an outcome that the government is considering when all along they should have been negotiating something much more nuanced. Likewise, it is important to protect the country from a minority of anti-EU fundamentalists on the right of the Conservative Party that have been allowed by May to wield disproportionate influence over her approach to negotiations.
For all of the above reasons, the ‘Put It To The People March’ is a great idea. People now have a better idea of what relationship they want with the EU and the government should let them voice their opinion. Moreover, if a new referendum happens and people still vote to leave, at least we can claim that the people this time round are a lot more informed.