Campaigners from across the East of England rallied against Brexit outside the Guildhall in Market Square, Cambridge on Saturday 14 October. Members of St Albans for Europe travelled to the event, organised by Cambridge Stays, and met others from Ely for Europe, East Hertfordshire for Europe, Norwich and Norfolk Stays, Suffolk EU Alliance, and The 48% Peterborough.
The Cambridge rally was part of a national day of regional anti-Brexit protests, with rallies, stunts and public meetings taking place in each of the UK’s European Parliament constituencies. This day of action was organised by ‘the 48%’ and supported by Britain for Europe and the European Movement.
Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, highlighted the importance of making the positive case for being in the EU and injecting passion into our campaigning. He spoke about how the situation is changing and how we need to avoid a ‘no deal’ situation at all costs. Dr Victoria Bateman, Lecturer in Economics at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, talked about how Brexit “leaves us naked”, as we are more exposed and vulnerable on our own than in alliance with our European partners. She also felt that the underlying issues that led to Brexit, such as jobs, the NHS and housing, would not be solved by Brexit, and it therefore could not succeed.
Lord Balfe of Dulwich, Conservative, told the crowd he felt we are neglecting our moral duty to Europe and that, however frustrating international cooperation could be, it is better than the alternative. Laure Ollivier-Minns spoke movingly about the difficult situation in which EU citizens find themselves, faced with an uncertain future in the UK. She encouraged people to buy ‘In Limbo’, an anthology of Brexit testimonies from EU citizens, which tells of their anxieties and upset at the vote to leave the EU. A vote, Laure reminded everyone, in which they were not allowed a voice.
The rally also featured great music by Cambridge-based band Major Rat Run, which really roused the crowd with their clever Brexit-related lyrics.
At the end of the rally, Paul Browne, Chair of Cambridge Stays, called on everyone to lobby MPs about the EU Withdrawal Bill. We are recommending people support the Represent Us campaign, which is asking people to write to MPs to ask them to support amendments Amendment 7 and NC4. These are the amendments that restore Parliamentary control, requiring the government to seek Parliament's approval of the final deal before we leave.
Daniel Zeichner – MP for Cambridge, Labour
Andrew Atter - Entrepreneur and member of Liverpool for Europe
Cllr Rod Cantrill – Cambridge Liberal Democrats
Lord Balfe of Dulwich, Conservative
Professor Catherine Rowett – Norwich Green Party
Laure Ollivier-Minns - Campaigner for EU citizen’s rights
Dr Victoria Bateman - Lecturer in Economics at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge
Marcus Johnson - Chief Executive of NW Brown
Paul Browne - Chair, Cambridge Stays
Matthew, a St Albans for Europe member attending the event said "What made this event stand out was the range of different people from different political backgrounds speaking. This included the Conservative, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties all willing to work together to fight Brexit.”
Anita said "It's important that as many of us as possible attend events like this, because we need to keep visible. Brexit appears almost to be a taboo subject on a day to day basis (at least in my circles) and to be amongst like minded people is always a joy. The fact that it was held in the Market Square on a busy Saturday meant that some of the speeches will have reached Leave voters. I heard a couple of them complaining on the fringes! But there must be some who are having doubts and so getting views across in a public place like this is helpful. The band, Major Rat Run, made the event more fun and I do think music is a way to get the emotional case for Remain across (which didn't happen in the run up to the referendum)."