Protesters against the UK’s exit from the European Union have labelled the move “a huge mistake” as they campaigned to re-join the bloc.
A large crowd of pro-EU protestors gathered outside the Hilton hotel on Park Lane in west London for the National Rejoin March (NRM) on Saturday.
Hundreds of people dressed in blue clothing and carrying EU flags filled the pavement ahead of the march through the city’s streets, which was due to culminate with a rally at Parliament Square.
Clusters of Metropolitan Police officers were at the scene as protesters handed out flyers and passing cars beeped their horns in support.
The UK voted to leave the European Union in a referendum in June 2016, called by then-prime minister David Cameron.
Peter Corr, leader and co-founder of NRM, said he decided to organise the march as it “felt like everyone had given up” on the cause.
Mr Corr, a lorry driver from Derby, told the PA news agency: “Brexit was a huge mistake, we’re all – especially working class and poorer people – paying for it and we need to do something about it.”
He said 60% of the country, and 80% of people aged under 25, consistently say they would re-join the EU in polls, adding: “I hate racism and xenophobia and that’s just what a big part of that ‘Vote Leave’ campaign really felt like to me.”
Ceira Sergeant, 21, from Walton in Liverpool, one of speakers at the rally, said: “I was only 14 when the referendum happened, so there was a huge amount of my peers who never got the chance to have their voices heard.”
Protestors held up placards before the march expressing their discontent with leaving the EU, including “The road to re-join the EU starts here”, and “Re-join, Rejoice”.
Another sign read: “Tories out, migrants welcome – Rejoin the EU”.
Individuals groups from across the country, including Devon, Cornwall and Stratford, were present with personalised placards.
Protestors from other European countries also attended the event with many wearing EU-styled berets.
Representatives of the Green Party also displayed a banner in solidarity of the protests.
Good morning, London 😘🌈✨
What a beautiful day in this wonderful European capital.
See you all at @marchforrejoin
— Terry Reintke (@TerryReintke) September 23, 2023
Terry Reintke, member of European Parliament from Germany and co-chairwoman of the Green Group in the parliament, said Europeans see events like the march with “a lot of sympathy” and that the UK is viewed as an “absolutely integral partner”.
She said: “The UK has managed to build one of the biggest pro-European movements across Europe, and we can still feel there are so many millions of people in the UK who want to rejoin the EU.”
Asked whether there had been discussions in European Parliament about the UK’s possible return, Ms Reintke said: “If there was a willingness to re-join, our door would be open.”
Lisa Burton, 53, from Rhonda Valley in Wales, now lives in Lanzarote, Spain and is vice chairwoman of campaigning group Bremain in Spain.
She said: “It’s just becoming evident of the damages of Brexit – every sector is suffering.
“We’re British immigrants living in the EU who took advantage of the freedom of movement, and I feel British people have a very warped image of what that is – they think it’s only inward.”
“We think that sticking plasters over Brexit is never going to be enough,” Ms Burton added.