Last year, Peter Corr, an ex-service man and lorry driver, decided to organise a march in London to rejoin the EU, the National Rejoin March. He’d never done anything like that before but had simply had enough of the damage caused to his business and to the country in general by Brexit. He thought it was time to do something about it.
After contacting a few pro-European, formerly anti-Brexit groups, a small committee was set up to make this happen. Result? In a very short time, they managed to bring together around 30,000 people in the first March for Rejoin. Not everything went smoothly: the march was planned for
, but, due to the Queen’s death, it had to be postponed to 22 October.
Peter Corr and his NRM team had their work cut out. Within weeks, they had organised the march. That involved a huge amount of planning. The council and the police had to be consulted, health and safety regulations observed. Costs are incurred which have to be covered by crowd funding. Peter Corr turned out to be an inspirational miracle worker.
Was the time right?
It was not easy to persuade pro-
The majority of pro-
‘Project Fear’ has become project reality
But something has changed. Opinion has changed. “Project Fear”, the pro-
.e . a ‘third country’. As such, it lost all the free access to EU markets and jobs that we’d grown up with and taken for granted.
So businesses were no longer trading inside the EU and are now seen as exporters. As such, they face extra costs sending goods to the EU. The government knew this but ignored the obvious consequences: red tape and long delays at the borders. It wasn’t just that time is money and lorry drivers like Peter faced long queues at Dover.
Goods have to go through customs checks. And those checks affect anyone sending or receiving even tiny gifts from family in the EU. This was one of the Brexit effects ‘Remainers’ had warned about. Frictionless interaction with our friends and families has been set back decades. Frictionless trade with our largest trading partner was over, a dream of days past.
We were promised only upsides
But the impact is personal and it does affect us all, regardless of whether we choose to go to Europe or not. Freedom of movement involves goods and people. The goods can’t move without people.
The list of businesses and professions who experience how damaging leaving the EU is very long, as we can see in Yorkshire Bylines’ Davis Downside Dossier.
Fishermen, farmers, small and medium size businesses (SMEs), scientists, artists, the entertainment industry, the financial industry, students, medics, builders, families and friends, and travel companies, all carry the burden imposed by a referendum result in 2016. The promises made by the Leave campaign turned out to be false. The Brexit benefits are more elusive than the Loch Ness monster.
We’re beginning to talk about how to Fix-it
Now the omertà over Brexit has been broken, the time to stop the lies and fudge has come. We were better off in all ways in the EU. We need to rejoin it. But, to do so, we need a government to be realistic and honest. We can’t just snap our fingers and rejoin. The EU’s 27 members have to agree to us rejoining and, sad though it is, the UK governments of the past 13 years have destroyed their trust in us. They are willing to be persuaded that we can and must become trustworthy again.
Equally, they and we all know that this Conservative government is not ready to admit that Brexit was a huge mistake.
But pretending that Brexit has not caused the UK to suffer more from austerity, the pandemic, energy crises and international problems than our closest neighbours, does no one any favours. Worse, it assumes we are all deaf to lies and happy to be fooled by whatever trite soundbite trips off the lips of ministers called on to defend the indefensible.
Losing thousands of European staff as they moved back to their countries of origin was bound to make matters worse. It seems that the government realises this (or knew it all along) and finally acknowledges that the UK can’t go it alone. In making some small effort to approach the EU to undo some of the damage they caused, it has allowed the UK to rejoin, as an associate member, the EU’s internationally acclaimed Horizon programme, facilitating research and cooperation across Europe. Being an associate member brings huge benefits, not only directly to the education, science and research communities and universities, but to the young people who benefit from them, and especially to ordinary people across Europe who benefit from the results, such as new treatments for cancer, space and medical discoveries and devices; new insights into how AI can be levered for us all.
People who voted to leave the EU have not had their expectations met. Recent polls show that a growing percentage of them regret their vote to leave. 85% of young people who often were too young and in school in 2016 ardently support what being in Europe offered their siblings and ordinary people. Many older Leave voters have died.
It seems to us Remainers that Peter was right last year: the time has come to campaign for joining the EU again. That is why we are marching again on Saturday 23 September.
Peter Corr has managed to build an amazing project from zero: an ordinary citizen who has taken bold action to change something that he considers wrong. In my eyes, his leadership qualities are what is missing in current UK politics.
Come to Park Lane in London
If you agree that urgent change is needed, please come to the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane at 12 noon on Saturday to march with us to Parliament Square. I will be marching for the future of my young relatives, who should not be denied by our government the freedoms, protections and rights as EU citizens I, and the vast majority of UK citizens, had for over 40 years. Let’s celebrate that we are lucky to live in Europe and let’s face the tough challenges of climate change, a tragic war in Ukraine and the growing toxicity of right-
PS: look out for my blue banner
I shall be carrying a blue banner with yellow stars bearing the names of people unable to join the march. If you want to support the NRM but cannot make it to London, fill in the form at https://marchforrejoin/marchforme. Your name will be one of the stars on my banner.
If you can’t do the whole march, meet up closer to Whitehall. All details of coaches from across the UK and the planned route can be found here.