Saturday 2 July 2016

On the march

I attended my first protest march today. It was the so-called “March for Europe”, a loose gathering of a few tens of thousands of people who were angry/upset about the Brexit vote. Some wanted a second referendum, some a general election, some simply to be heard.

I hesitated before turning up. I don’t think we should have a second referendum. We must respect the 52% who voted Leave – they didn’t do it because they had small brains and most didn’t do it because they were racist. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to leave the EU.

But the invective directed against us marchers on Twitter implies some people have forgotten the point of free speech and protest. The validity of a 52% majority for making changes to a constitution is shaky at best, but setting that aside, the day on which protest marches become “anti-democratic” will be a dark day indeed for British democracy.

My position is simple: we must not sever our ties with Europe and we must not throw out our EU immigrants (or other immigrants), many of whom are both essential to the economy and, more importantly, my/our friends. I went on the march not because I am throwing a tantrum about losing, but because the 16 million people who voted Remain are in danger of being forgotten in the forthcoming negotiations. That must not happen.

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