On Saturday 24 March two dozen Cambridge Stays members and supporters boarded a train to Ipswich for the Great Eastern March for Europe, which was organised by the Suffolk EU Alliance. It was one of a dozen large events organised in cities and towns across the UK on between Friday 23rd and Monday 26th March to mark one year since Article 50 was triggered, and one year to stop Brexit!
We didn’t know what to expect, after all Ipswich voted 58% Leave in the 2016 referendum. What would the turnout be?
The initial signs were encouraging, as we left Ipswich station we ran into several activists from Bury St. Edmunds Open Britain and Norfolk for Europe. Having unfurled some of our flags we formed a mini-march as we walked together to the University of Suffolk Waterside building, inside and outside of which marchers from across the East of England were gathering.
As we prepared to march we got out our remaining flags and banners, and managed to snap a quick photo with some of our Cambridge group.
12.15 arrived, and as the march prepared to set off it became clear that the turnout was big,, very big, indeed the East Anglia Daily Times later estimated it at 900! We marched towards the centre of Ipswich to chants of “Stop Brexit. Save the NHS!” “Hey, Hey Theresa May, we demand a final say” and “Exit from Brexit!”, receiving many toots, cheers and waves of support from passing motorists and pedestrians.
It was an impressive turnout, though not quite the more than 6,000 who joined the Great Northern March in Leeds!
After our short march we returned to the University of Suffolk for a rally, where speakers delivered a series of inspirational speeches. Speakers included:
- Dr. Rob Davidson, – Scientists for EU (SfEU)
- Alex Mayer MEP – Representing the East of England region for the Labour Party
- Laure Ollivier-Minns and Carole Convers – advocates of and members of the ‘In Limbo’ editorial team discussing Brexit from the perspective of EU citizens in the UK
- Josephine Hayes – ‘Diary Day’ Blogger from East Anglia
- Daisy Cooper – Executive Director of Campaigns at More United
Following the rally there was an EU Lecture Lounge event, where the speakers who had delivered short speeches at the rally had the opportunity to speak for longer and answer questions from an audience of about one hundred, and were joined by two other speakers:
- Jessica Simor QC – EU and Human Rights Law specialist
- Sandy Martin MP, Labour Party MP for Ipswich
This part of the day’s events was focused on were the campaign to stop Brexit is going, and particularly the need to secure a vote for the people of the UK on the terms of Brexit, with remaining in the EU as an option. Of course we all also need to be ready and organised to campaign hard when the opportunity comes!
Ben from Sixteen Million Rising has created a video of the march and rally.
You can also watch a video of the EU Lecture Lounge event here .
The Suffolk EU Alliance did an amazing job in organising such a well run and very well attended march and rally, the first of it’s kind to be organised in Ipswich – and for that matter in Suffolk – since the 2016 referendum. Thanks to Julia Ewart and al the Suffolk EU Alliance volunteers for all their hard work, and for making us feel so welcome. This feels like the start of something big in the East of England!