Our heartfelt thanks to our sponsors for seven amazing prizes to help us celebrate still being in the EU. Our thanks also go to our generous members of Devizes for EU who have sponsored our party with more surprise prizes and the live (acoustic) music!
The following is the text of a letter to editors written by a consortium of over 20 pro EU groups in the South West following the European elections results. An excellent example of rapid collective regional action.
In the South West, the biggest story of the Euro-election results was the unexpected surge of the pro-remain vote. 49% of the votes were cast for a party unequivocally supporting a People’s Vote on Brexit and only 41% were for leaving the EU.
Cross-party groups like ours in the South West campaigned to encourage people to vote for parties that support a Final Say for the public. We did so because we are democrats. Now that we know more about the consequences of Brexit, it’s only right that the people, having decided on the principle of leaving the EU, should be asked to express their opinion on the terms of departure.
The election results show that people in the South West agree with us. We can all see that the promises made during the Brexit campaign in 2016 are undeliverable. It is increasingly clear that no deal is not an option: it would cause an economic earthquake and imperil livelihoods and our way of life, disrupt the lives of the three million EU citizens, who have chosen to make the UK their home, and the 1.3 million British citizens in the EU, and further damage our standing in the world. Even the no dealers now talk slyly of a ‘managed’ no deal. This will lead only to years and years of further negotiations from a much weaker position that we are in now.
We continue to campaign in our communities for the people to have the Final Say on the terms of Brexit – the democratic option that will help the country to break the never-ending deadlock.
Bath for Europe
Bradford on Avon and Trowbridge for Europe
Cornwall for Europe
Cheltenham for Europe
Cotswold for Europe
Devizes for EU
Dorset for Europe
European Movement Mendip
Forest of Dean for Europe
Gloucester for Europe
Gloucestershire for Europe
North Dorset for Europe
North Somerset for Europe
North Wilts & Chippenham for EU
Salisbury for Europe
Stroud 4 Europe
Swindon for Europe
Tewkesbury for Europe
Thornbury and Yate People’s Vote
West Dorset for EU
Stephen Stacey, Vice Chair of Devizes for EU, lifts the bonnet to have a closer look at those encouraging European election results in the South West and finds them mould breaking.
Members of Devizes for EU, the group campaigning for a people’s vote on the UK’s departure from the European Union, have been celebrating local results in the European parliamentary elections with good reason.
Results from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party that headed the list of winners in the South-West region as elsewhere merit close examination. The party’s 37% of the votes cast means that it will be sending three Members of the European Parliament to Brussels. The other three MEPs were shared between the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. But this is only one of other significant changes that the Euro-election has put into stark relief.
At the 2014 Euro-election, two MEPs were Conservatives and two were members of UKIP whilst the Greens and Labour had one each. All change for 2019: the Conservatives and UKIP have lost their four MEPs and Labour’s Claire Moody, heading the party’s list this year, was not re-elected. The firmly pro-remain Greens and Liberal Democrats retained one seat and gained two respectively.
In 2017 the Tories won 47 of the 55 Westminster constituencies in the South-West. Labour secured seven and the Liberal Democrats one. Whilst hypothesising national election results from actual European ones is a risky business, it’s worth asking whether there was a seismic shift in the politics of our region at the Euro-elections on 23 May. Peering beneath the affiliation of MEPs returned to the ways in which their electors voted, there are indeed signs that there was.
In the 2016 referendum, 53% of South-West voters wanted to leave the EU and 47% voted to remain. In these European elections, setting aside Labour as a party that is undecided, 49% of the votes cast were for parties unequivocally committed to holding a people’s vote whilst only 41% came from Brexiteers.
Brexiteers do not dare put their proposals to the democratic test
Of course there are differences between the two polls, not least in turn-out: 73% for the referendum and about half that for this year’s Euro-election. Supporting a people’s vote is not quite the same thing as being a Remainer though Brexiteers do not dare put their proposals to a democratic test.
Nevertheless the Euro-election has shown that people’s vote supporters are in the majority in the South-West. It seems that South-West electors are becoming sceptical of the simplistic certainties of the Brexiteers.
“We’re very encouraged by these results,” said Kate Freeman, Chair of Devizes for EU, “but we know that the campaign must go on. We have to continue to demonstrate that the best deal for the UK is the one we already have.
Also we need to encourage voters to challenge the Brexiteers. It simply isn’t good enough to claim that a no-deal exit from the EU will be painless. Not merely jobs but our way of life would be at risk if the Brexit Party has its way.”
Devizes for EU went to extraordinary lengths on Saturday to deliver a petition letter to Claire Perry MP. 13 miles in fact. The letter urged her to vote for a party supporting a People’s Vote in the forthcoming European Parliament elections.
Led by hiking enthusiast and petitioner Simon Knighton of Aldbourne, members of Devizes for EU walked from Marlborough to Devizes via the Ridgeway and the Kennet & Avon Canal to promote a pro-EU vote at the European Parliament elections on 23rd May.
With over 300 signatures (in 10 short days), the letter explains why Devizes constituents will be voting in the European elections for a party that unequivocally supports a People’s Vote. It also makes the point that, just as the people were asked in 2016 to decide on the principle of departure from the EU, so should they be allowed to vote on the actual terms by which the UK leaves the EU.
The walk was designed to be enjoyable as well as having a democratic purpose. The photos showed that both objectives were accomplished! The route and joining points can be seen here. See souvenir photos below.
The Wansdyke above Alton Barnes 12:40
Our coach was packed, the mood upbeat and one marcher, Nick Fletcher, was moved to compose new verses to the tune of The Diggers’ Song.
For a brief moment our coach passengers marched in step through Hyde Park. We even managed to meet at Speaker’s Corner some of those who travelled up separately, but others didn’t hear our siren calls through the megaphone. Thereafter our military plans collapsed: some dashed off to Parliament Square whilst many of us shuffled down Pall Mall then rushed across to Millbank to catch the delayed coach. The good news is that we didn’t leave anyone behind and Nick premiered his new verses of The Diggers’ Song through the megaphone as we marched past Green Park knowing that stirring speeches in Parliament Square were in full swing (see verses at the end of this blog).
Thanks to our striking placards, banners and Mick and Chris Davey’s arresting lion and unicorn heraldry our presence caught the eye of Getty Images photographers, the BBC and many other photographers.
The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald featured our march and statement in full together with an update of the subsequent fast moving parliamentary votes, Brexit events and the Prime Minister’s controversial message to the nation.
The People’s Vote organisers estimated “at least one million” marched and were in no doubt about the influence the marchers from the length and breadth of the country had on subsequent events. One of the organisers messaged group leaders: “The end of the march passed the Duke of Wellington’s statue at 17.15, arriving in Parliament Square four hours after talks started, and people had started to leave. I would say two million is conservative. The whole of Whitehall was packed – claustrophobically so. This was the biggest thing ever in British political history.”
A scientist experienced in counting ants estimated the number shown on ITV, tweeted that the marchers totalled between 1.5 and 1.9 million.
The speeches at the rally spotted on social media were memorable. Most moving was the closing speech by Michael Heseltine (13 minutes, YouTube).
On the strength of the marathon effort, MEP Michael Ashworth at the European Parliament won a standing ovation in the European Parliament for his speech on behalf of “the million who marched, the six million who signed the revoke article 50 petition and the 63% who never voted for Brexit”. “Nigel Farage does not speak for that 63%”. Watch it here. (2.49 mins, YouTube)
Thank you to everyone who helped make the Put It To The People March such a historic occasion.
ON MARCH THE 23RD TO LONDON TOWN
(Verses to the tune of The Diggers’ Song)
On March the 23rd to London Town
A bunch of politically disparate folk
Came to lay it down
One thing in common convened the throng
Leaving the EU is completely fucking wrong.
They laid their differences in the dust
Came from Devizes in a decorated double decker bus
Fed up with lies and getting screwed
They planned to add their weight and voices to a growing multitude
Lost in division this can’t go on
4 million voices want to sing a different song.
In 2016 we heard the fuss, we saw the giant fucking lies written on another bus.
They duped the people deceived us all
In the name of greed and personal gain
The people’s choice they said,with fingers crossed. When they held the referendum, democracy got lost
Our choice was okay then in ignorance
Now we’re well informed we all deserve a second fucking chance.
It’s time to change approach, it’s been too long
It’s up to all of us to right this populist wrong.
Composed by Nick Fletcher on the coach