LONDON - Hundreds of people waving European Union flags on Saturday rallied in central London calling for Britain to rejoin the bloc. The National Rejoin March (NRM) gathered near Hyde Park and was due to culminate in Parliament Square as supportive motorists beeped their horns. Protesters brandished placards reading “The road to rejoin the EU starts here”, and “Rejoin, rejoice”.
The NRM movement backs a return to membership of the EU which Britain left after voting in favour of Brexit in a 2016 referendum. An exit deal was negotiated under the premiership of former Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and came into force in 2021, with a review set for 2025. 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.
“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,” Corr, a lorry driver from the central English city of Derby, told the domestic PA news agency. Protester Rachel Ashley, wearing over-sized star-shaped glasses, told AFP she was “just absolutely furious” about Brexit. “I know people who are utterly mortified. They are so deeply ashamed... They’ve been played for fools,” she said. Another Brexit critic, Frances Smith, a 68-year-old retiree, said she saw herself as a European. “To take that away from me is wicked,” she said. The opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer on Friday was forced to deny he wanted to rejoin the EU after recent comments led the ruling Conservatives to accuse him of wanting to “unpick Brexit”. Starmer insisted there was no case for returning to the EU, its customs union or the single market.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, the fourth largest party in parliament, has also said voters are no longer “talking about Europe” on the doorstep. The Lib Dems had previously pledged to “stop Brexit”. “We want Britain to be back at the heart of Europe but we’re also realistic that’s going to take some time,” Ed Davey said ahead of his party’s annual conference on Saturday.