To mark the fact that “Brexit Day” passed without the UK leaving the EU, Cambridge Stays held a rally outside the Senate House in Cambridge on Friday 29th March.
We were joined by hundreds of supporters from Cambridge and the surrounding region who came to call on MPs to end the chaos of Brexit by either putting it back to the people in a referendum with the option to stay in the EU, or by revoking Article 50.
Cambridge Stays Chair Paul Browne began by welcoming the crowd, thanking them for carrying on the campaign against Brexit, saying “you weren’t willing to stand around while the future of this country was sold out to a bunch of fascists, fantasists and frauds“, before asking the crowd to take part in a series of “indicative votes” on what should happen now.
Paul then introduced Cambridge Stays member Kathryn Skoyles, who read out a statement from South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen, who was sadly not able to make it back from Westminster in time to attend the rally. In her statement Heidi said “Day by day, vote by vote, amendment by amendment, and march by march, we are making the case, the case to stay!“. You can watch a video of Paul’s speech and Heidi’s statement on Antony Carpen’s Youtube channel.
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, was next up, and in his speech noted that even if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is approved it wont be the end of Brexit, saying “When people say ‘I’m fed up with it, let’s finish it, I’m so tired of it’, do they not understand that we haven’t even got to the end of the beginning. This will go on for years”. You can watch a video of Daniel’s speech here.
Baroness Dr Julie Smith, a member of the House of Lords, described in her speech about how earlier that day she and her colleagues had been warned to take off their ID badges before leaving Parliament because of the danger of being attacked by right-wing extremists who had joined Nigel Farage’s rally outside. She was not intimidated, concluding “Parliamentarians shouldn’t be targets, we should be leading, and we should all be working together, fighting in the national interest to make sure that the UK stays in the EU and that we all move forward together as a reunited country”. Watch her speech on Youtube.
In his speech Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, commented “We have had appalling leadership from the Government, and that has added to the chaos and the division and the hurt. So as a community we have to keep fighting, we have to stay in Europe, Europe is about our City, it’s about having a successful economy, it’s about being a welcoming place”. Watch his speech on Antony Carpen’s Youtube channel.
County Councillor Susan van de Ven was next, saying “There is no good Brexit scenario, all forms of Brexit will make this country poorer, and close doors that otherwise our children might walk through. Children had no say in the referendum or any genera election, but they have marched as part of the 1 million who made their way peacefully to Westminster on March 23rd to ask for their say in the future”. Watch her speech on Youtube.
Dr Victoria Bateman, a feminist economist and University of Cambridge lecturer, spoke about the need to work within the EU to meet the challenges our world faces, saying “Brexit leaves Britain exposed, exposed at a time when we face unimaginable international challenges, not least of which is of course climate change. These are challenges that cannot be faced by a single country acting alone, these are challenges that demand countries work together”. You can watch her full speech on Youtube.
Our final speaker was East of England MEP Alex Mayer, began her speech to cheers when she said “Good evening Cambridge, I am so proud to by your Member of the European Parliament still!” concluding by saying “I will keep fighting alongside all of you to make sure we don’t just stop Brexit today, we don’t just stop Brexit next week, we stop Brexit for good”. You can watch her full speech on Youtube.
Paul Browne closed the rally by urging everyone – especially non-UK EU citizens and young people – to make sure they are registered to vote in the European Parliament elections, and to become a member of Cambridge Stays so that we are ready to with a People’s Vote!
It was good to see local media take a keen interest in the rally. On the morning of the 29th Paul Browne spoke with Ben Stevenson from BBC Radio Cambridgeshire about ‘No Brexit Day’ and what might happen next (Interview starts 1:14), and later several of our members and supporters were interviewed on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Chris Mann show (interviews start 54 minutes in), and both the Cambridge News and Cambridge Independent reported from the rally.