This is just to follow up my earlier post to talk about why we marched today. These are my personal views.
Since the referendum, there has been an increase in racial abuse directed at people in this country. One of the things I was marching for was to stay loud and clear that immigrants are welcome in this country.
Secondly, I was marching for the 48% of people who voted “remain”, to say that we stand with you, we believe the UK’s future lies in positive co-operation with our European partners. I was marching to say clearly that we believe that whatever settlement is worked through, visa vis our relations with the rest of Europe, we need to have those principles of co-operation and tolerance at the centre of our thinking.
I was certainly not marching against the 52% of people who voted in the referendum, by the way. Indeed, I was marching for them. Surely they want everyone in the country to be involved in informing the debate which is now ongoing about our future. It seems a very positive way forward to me.
Do I not support democracy? I have said earlier:
We had a very long referendum campaign with an extremely thorough thrashing out of every conceivable angle of debate. It was on the telly, radio and social media at breakfast, lunch and supper time for months. Everybody had a chance to have their say. The turnout was massive. The result was clear. We are a union – the United Kingdom – so the majority prevails. End of. The people have spoken. Trust the people.
I hope that is clear. I stand by that. But as we approach the thousands of decisions which will need to be taken, it is right that democracy continues beyond a simple referendum, and continues to inform our elected representatives through all forms of activities, including marches.
We need to bear in mind that parliament is sovereign – that’s what many people voted “leave” for – to maintain the sovereignity of our parliament. So it is right that our representatives now consider all the many issues, and the march today was to help inform that process.
What about the cost of policing the march? Well, I am sure that if leave had lost by a narrow margin, they would be screaming from the roof tops about it. Democracy does not end at the ballot box. If tens of thousands of people feel strongly enough to give up their Saturdays to march for Europe, then it is right that policing is provided, as it is for a hundred and one other causes day-in-day-out throughout the year.