This Saturday I went on my first political protest! I joined the North East for Europe March on March the 4th. There were about seven hundred of us in Newcastle to protest about Brexit and the accompanying chaos. My motivation for going is not just about the referendum of the 23rd of June but the events since then.
I am also absolutely disgusted with the position the government is taking on the issue of EU citizens living in the UK. These are people and to treat them as bargaining chips in a negotiation is simply contemptible. This is not an abstract issue it affects real people right now. I am unimpressed with the attitude of those who call these people foreigners and act if they matter less as a result. I don’t call the lovely young lady who married my brother-in-law a foreigner, I call her my sister.
As a remain voter I am also unimpressed by the attitude of the EU in this matter too there are millions of people affected by this issue and I view their lack of effort to resolve this matter rapidly as disappointing to say the least.
Going on a March is a very analogue experience in a digital age. There were some good speeches, some great speeches, a guitarist or two and quite a lot of shouting. It was fantastic to be amongst like minded people. A few interesting takeaways from the speeches which hadn’t occurred to me before:
- In the UK we have chosen to make employing people here as easy as moving goods across the EU. So the pressures on our un-skilled and low-skilled labour market are not an automatic result of EU membership and there is a lot more that is under our control than the Brexiters would have you believe.
- The NHS is already under pressure from a dramatic reduction in recruitment and retention from EU nationals.
- The current plan for everything to be wrapped up in two years is unrealistic. This will still be going on at the next election and perhaps the one after that.
- The current Brexit fallback plan of a deregulated, low tax economy (like Singapore) is something that only works for a small elite who are rich enough not to worry about things like health insurance.
However for me the most striking thing was the very small counter demo, these folk were mainly wearing balaclavas or face masks, saying refugees were not welcome and holding Trump posters. I was very happy to be counted where I stood….