My ears are still ringing, my nerves still tingling, my throat still sore. It’s hard to convey what a big deal the People’s Vote March for the Future was this weekend . Estimates put the attendance at 700,000, making it one of the biggest demonstrations ever seen in this country.
The aerial footage gives you some sense of the streaming masses , flowing into Parliament Square and backed up miles behind. But you had to be there, on the ground, to understand the fierce sense of urgency, the energy and, yes, optimism. This was not one political party, one class or one region. It was the United Kingdom coming together to make one simple, compelling demand: a People’s Vote on the outcome of this miserable Brexit the Establishment is dumping on us.
I was in a group of students and young people from across the UK, diverse in backgrounds, experiences and accents, but united in our cause. They included those who weren’t allowed to vote in 2016, and had their futures taken from them. We came in numbers not seen for a generation, from Falmouth, Lampeter and students from Orkney — who travelled 26 hours to be there.
This was a demonstration launched and shaped by young people. In April this year, students’ unions from all four corners of the UK signed an open letter calling on politicians to listen to young people and back a People’s Vote. We had hoped it would start a conversation in Westminster, since then, we’ve created a movement in the country.
And young people led this march from the front. I’ve never before been to a political event of such size — especially one where young people were given permission to lead — and I doubt I will again. For too long in the debate about Europe, young people from towns, cities, peaks and valleys have felt our voices are not being heard, which is why the signs we protested with simply read: “I’m marching for my future.”
And the future was on show. Talented young people were leading the demonstration, talking on stage and helping behind the scenes. Young people have taken their case to the country, and this weekend people from every generation responded. We now move up another gear, to the challenge of taking that momentum and channelling it into piling as much pressure as possible on MPs in Westminster.
We must ensure that politicians can’t put their fingers in their ears and ignore young people, or the rest of the country, any longer. We have maybe just eight weeks to change the course of history, to save our future — and we intend to use them.
This weekend showed that young people are leading the way for a better kind of politics, and it’s time Theresa May and the rest of the Brexit elite listened to our calls for a People’s Vote before it’s too late – for our future’s sake. Because our voices are getting louder.
- Kira Lewis is a supporter of For our Future’s Sake and a first-year student at King’s College London