I remember spotting The Independent’s Final Say and People’s Vote campaign launch on TV from my home in Newcastle last year. Like many young people, I was terrified about Brexit – what it would mean for me, my family and my future. Most of us felt like there was nothing we could do about it, that the government and so many other people were willing to ram Brexit through, despite it being nothing like what was promised. No matter the consequences.
So I was intrigued by the People’s Vote campaign, if not overly hopeful about its success.
How things have grown in the months since that launch.
There are lots of reasons for this; the energy and dynamism of youth groups like For our Future’s Sake (FFS) and Our Future Our Choice (OFOC); the sheer mess that the government has made of the Brexit process. But perhaps most importantly, because we are the only campaign and the only democratic solution to an escalating Brexit crisis which has humiliated our country. It cannot be sorted by anyone apart from the people – and the time for a people’s vote has come.
Through FFS and People’s Vote North, I’m proud to be part of an all-out nationwide offensive, with a series of rallies that will run through the summer and party conference season, before culminating with the biggest Brexit march yet on Saturday 12 October in London.
It will be intense. It will be hard. But anything worth having should be, and People’s Vote campaigners – old and young – are in this to win this.
We start in my adoptive home of Leeds on Saturday 22 June, where I lived for three years as a student. The campaign will make its way around the country – from Glasgow to Newport, Sunderland to Derby. At the heart of our programme will be the recognition that it is vital that our voices are heard in the towns, cities and villages of the United Kingdom. In particular, areas that voted Leave in 2016.
We will then go straight for the people we need to convince the most – members of parliament. We will hold events in Brighton and Manchester for the Labour and Conservative Party annual conferences. After that, we will be hitting the streets of London on 12 October for the biggest Brexit march yet.
The People’s Vote campaign is a truly unique movement made up of people from all walks of life, and across the United Kingdom. We’re all different people with very different politics, but we have coalesced around the idea that it is the people who should decide Brexit, not just politicians.
No one else – whether they’re running for prime minister, setting up a new party or trying to hold together an old one – can bring together people from all parties and backgrounds. FFS, OFOC, Open Britain and the European Movement are joined by a wealth of organisations from across the country and representing marginalised groups.
We all agree on one thing: it would be a democratic and moral outrage for a new prime minister – elected by 0.25 per cent of the electorate – to impose a destructive no-deal Brexit on the British people.
It would hit places like Newcastle, where I’m from, the hardest, for the longest. Nobody voted to destroy our vital manufacturing sector, or to make working-class people poorer.
This summer, we will make the biggest and loudest case for a people’s vote we possibly can.
By 12 October, we will be heard.
Ellie James is a supporter of the youth-led campaign group For Our Future’s Sake (FFS), part of the People’s Vote campaign
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