By Joe Duggan in Westminster
SOME 50,000 Remain supporters took to the streets of London for the People’s March for Europe on Saturday.
The Brexit opponents made their way from Park Lane to Parliament Square where they heard speeches from Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative politicians.
Sir Bob Geldof sent a message of support, with ex-Liberal Democrat cabinet minister Sir Ed Davey telling the crowd he felt ‘embarrassment’ at the current Brexit negotiation process.
“I’ve gone from anger to distress, from fury to despair. But since the Brexit negotiations begun there’s a third emotion I’ve been feeling,” said Davey.
“Embarrassment at our country’s leaders. Embarrassment for Great Britain.”
The colourful crowd, many of them carrying home-made banners and flags, stopped outside Downing Street as they passed by.
There were heated scenes outside the Lord Moon of the Mall pub when Leave and Remain supporters traded insults before marcher Middleton Mann defused the situation by hugging one of the Leave supporters.
“Remaining is all about kindness, unity and togetherness and the spirit of happiness and solving problems together,” Middleton Mann, 51, a creative agency manager from London told the Olive Press.
“It didn’t solve anything by booing at him so I gestured at him to come over and have a hug. We are not going to get anywhere fighting each other.”
Further up the Mall, Boris Johnson lookalike Drew Galdron entertained crowds with a live music performance, holding a Theresa May puppet and singing a parody version of Oops Upside Your Head.
“Since anti-Brexit events like the Number 10 vigil started I have been at quite a few of them performing songs lampooning Boris,” he said.
“I met Boris in 2009 at a Pride reception. I liked the man better then, although I didn’t like his politics. I’m starting to like the man a lot less.”
Other protestors spoke of their fears over the outcome of the negotiations, with Ronan Connolly from Northern Ireland saying he was concerned about the impact on the peace process.
“The Belfast Peace Agreement is very much under threat because of Brexit,” said Connolly, 46, a company director based in Suffolk.
“You wouldn’t know the border is there at the minute. But Brexit will bring back the border I grew up with which will mean checkpoints and eventually probably army checkpoints as well.”
Freedom of movement and the right to work in other EU countries was also uppermost in campaigners’ concerns.
Around 1.2 million British citizens work in EU countries, with around 3.4 million EU citizens in the UK.
“I want me and my family to have freedom to move, travel and live and work in Europe. I think Brexit will be very bad for the economy,” said Wendy Whitton, a 51-year-old teacher from Lincolnshire.
“And it’s going to be especially bad if we can’t have EU migrants here as they contribute so much.”
University lecturer Bryn Jones said he had only ever been on three political marches, all in the last six months, and believed it was ‘necessary to get out and demonstrate’.
“In the past I cared, but things were not critical. Today, the situation has changed. Things are critical,” said Jones, 53.
“Marches like this show that people are committed to the cause of remaining in the European Union. If we can change public opinion then I think politicians will follow.”
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