As a member of the European Movement National Council, I first heard of the National Rejoin March (NRM) plans for a march in summer during a Zoom meeting with a pro-EU group. At first I was a bit sceptical if this was the right time to start campaigning to Rejoin the EU. I was a bit worried that Peter, who had come up with the idea of marching for Rejoin, would not have the necessary support.
The National Rejoin March
I thought that we had a lot to do in the UK before we could seriously consider applying for EU membership. But a few months are a long time in politics. Both the EU and the UK have undergone changes since the 2016 Referendum. The UK had two national elections and is now led by the third PM since Cameron resigned in 2016.
In discussions on social media and in meetings with various pro EU groups, people’s views on our prospect of rejoining the EU varied. All pro Europeans agree that we want to rejoin the EU as soon as possible but there are doubts as to whether there is enough support yet for it in the UK. Some people feel that our relationship with the EU has been damaged seriously and that the EU “won’t have us back.” They think that it will takes decades, not years.
EMUK offers support
The European Movement UK invited Peter of the NRM, to a European Movement UK (EMUK) meeting to explain his objectives. At the end of the discussion, he had persuaded the EMUK participants that we should all support him and join this NRM. It was decided to hold the march in early September.
A committee was formed to help with the organisation of the march, as experience with previous pro-EU marches has shown the large amount of work involved in getting it right.
The Committee members, besides Director Peter, Co-director Richard Wilson, Vice Chair of the European Movement Council and Ben Chambers, of Sixteen Million Rising, are made up of committed pro-EU campaigners. For a complete list, see the National Rejoin March website.
Do EU really want us?
The scepticism or fear about whether the EU would ‘have us back’ was allayed to a great extent at a meeting at Europe House, London, with Terry Reintke, who gave an inspiring talk. She assured us, that if the political will was there from the UK’s side, the EU would welcome us with open arms.
She gave an interview to Mike Cashman. She gave us confidence that our vision was worth pursuing. Terry has founded a UK/EU friendship group of MEPs in Brussels. She is so keen to keep hope of Rejoin alive, that she agreed to come to the NRM and become one of the VIP speakers. For a list of speakers, see.
Death of Her Majesty: March postponed
When Queen Elizabeth died, it was quickly agreed to postpone the march to a date in October. On 10 September, the date the NRM was scheduled to take place, several of us went to the meeting point advertised to make sure to meet up with anybody who did not realise we had rescheduled the March. I also asked Kati Schneeberger from Vienna Goes Europe to join us there. She had flown in especially to march with NRM to show that Britain has not been forgotten by EU partners.
In addition to NRM and EMUK members, several other representatives of UK proEU campaign groups were joined by Bremain In Spain members. What commitment to travel all the way from Spain! It was great to see some friends I hadn’t seen in person since the last remainers’ march. Out of respect for The Queen’s death, we were not displaying EU flags.
Off to a pub lunch
Our small group then took the tube to Covent Garden and we were delighted to see several EU VIPs assembled at a pub for lunch: Amongst others, Mike Galsworthy, of Scientists for EU, the Bylines Network and Yvonne Wancke of EMUK were joined by Terry Reintke, Molly Scott Cato and Irina von Wiese. Antonio Godbert had come from France to represent the European Movement France. Mike Cashman took some of us aside individually to make short videos about our reasons for supporting the NRM.
Not giving up
On the ‘March for Rejoin’ web site, the aim of the NRM is mainly to force ‘Rejoin’ onto the agenda and make the word itself become as mainstream as ‘Brexit’ has become. By bringing pro Europeans together for the first time since we left the EU, we want to make it clear that we have not given up on our vision to rejoin.
People might have different views on how long it will take, but we all agree in the mission: we are Europeans and need to be part of the union of sovereign European States. There are candidate countries who have desperately tried to satisfy the criteria to be able to become members of the EU. Ukrainians are fighting a war for the privilege which we have given up.
Now we are rejoiners
I think the time is ripe for showing that we have moved on from our Remain stance to a Rejoin stance. The NRM is most keen to promote positive messages. Brexit has failed. It is adding substantially to the cost-of-living crisis. We believe that by rejoining we will kick-start growth in the UK economy which has suffered from loss of trade with our nearest neighbours.
Rejoin will revitalise many industries which were harmed by red tape, loss of EU workers, like hospitality, and fishing, vital scientific research and farming, to name but a few. As the Garden of England and the county with the largest ports connecting UK and France, Kent has much to gain by rejoining.
Will you support NRM and come to the peaceful family and dog friendly occasion? If you can’t walk the whole length of the march, join it closer to Whitehall. The NRM web site has a map to follow. You should hear us moving towards you. There will be song and dance. Fun but with a serious message. Like Terry Reintke said, the EU left the light on for us. Let’s show them we want an end to the darkness Brexit and this current government have imposed on the UK.
I will march because I believe the climate emergency and cost of living crisis, as well as the growing threat by right wing propaganda makes working with neighbours more and more important.
If you have a query about the 22 October NRM, contact [email protected].
The aims of the march
“Join us at the start of the Rejoin campaign, on the first National Rejoin March! The march aims to be family friendly, welcoming and positive. The National Rejoin March is for all of us. There are multiple ways that we can ‘Get Rejoin Done’ and it will be great to hear them at the march. Please join us and get involved.”
If you support the aim of the NRM, but for some reason are not able to come to London to join the March, message me on Facebook Messenger or send a DM on Twitter @csibike1. I will add your name to my #March4Me banner which will be on the stage at Parliament Square.