An estimated 700,000 people marched through London on Saturday (20 October) to demand that the British government holds a second referendum on the terms of Brexit.
The protesters waved the blue and gold flag of the EU and held up “Bollocks to Brexit” banners under sunny skies to call for another referendum on the eventual deal on how Britain will leave the world’s biggest trading bloc.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) October 20, 2018
The march comes as pressure builds on Prime Minister Theresa May over her negotiating strategy with just over five months until Britain is due to leave. There is, so far, no withdrawal deal in place and Mrs May faces an uphill battle to get any deal passed by Parliament.
Stellar day for #PeopleVoteMarch. Most decent and responsible suggestion I’ve seen since the #Brexit vote. Give public a 3-way vote: 1) leave no matter what 2) leave on terms of May’s (eventual) deal, 3) remain in the EU. An informed vote is only way to judge the people’s will. pic.twitter.com/6Y8aNh5sjy
— Alex Bescoby (@AlexBescoby) October 20, 2018
James McGrory, one of the organisers of the march, said the public should have the chance to change their minds because the decision will impact their lives for generations.
“People think the Brexit negotiations are a total mess, they have no faith in the government to deliver the promises that were made, partly because they cannot be delivered,” he said.
At the march, demonstrators carried placards saying “Brexit is pants” and “time for an EU turn,” while London Mayor Sadiq Khan was among the politicians to address the crowd.
Heartwarming to see so many 100,000s from all walks of life, all ages, ethnicities, sexualities, celebrating the UK's tolerance, democracy & sense of what makes us the same not different at #PeopleVoteMarch . We're extremely fortunate & mustn't take any of this for granted.
— Gina Miller (@thatginamiller) October 20, 2018
The 2016 referendum saw 52% vote in favour of leaving the European Union. But the past two years have been politically fraught as the government has struggled to agree on a plan and there are growing fears that Britain could leave the bloc without a deal.
Some opinion polls have shown a slight shift in favour of remaining in the European Union, but there has yet to be a decisive change in attitudes and many in Britain say they have become increasingly bored by the Brexit process.
The prime minister has repeatedly ruled out holding a second referendum. The opposition Labour party said last month they were open to a second referendum with the option of staying in the bloc.
Brexit supporters, meanwhile, say a second referendum would trigger a major constitutional crisis and calls of betrayal.
“We had a vote, we voted to leave, the idea to have a second referendum would be incredibly damaging,” said Richard Tice, Vice-Chairman of Leave Means Leave, which wants a clean break with the EU.
“People need to be under no illusions as to how people feel about what is a significant potential for a total betrayal of democracy in this country.”
People’s vote marche is the most impressive and deeply moving support for Europe I‘ve ever seen. Millions across Europe feel with you! Thx so much!!! Danke! Merci!
— Peter Altmaier (@peteraltmaier) October 20, 2018