Today is the first day that Parliament has sat on a Saturday since 1982, and only the fourth time it has done so since the end of World War II. The gathering had been called to discuss Prime Minister Johnson’s new Brexit deal with the EU. It was also the day chosen for the latest People’s Vote march. It is estimated that around a million people joined the march which wound its way from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square,
Central London was brought to a complete standstill, but despite the much larger police presence than previously, it was generally good humoured and festive. Marchers came from all corners of the UK and beyond; they were young and old; men and women; people from all different background, religions and colours; in wheelchairs and on their feet… They carried a wide array of amusing, clever, and sometimes challenging posters and banners. The atmosphere was full of trepidation; Parliament was set to accept the deal. The day started brightly. England had thrashed Australia at the Rugby Union World Cup in Japan, and the sun was shining brightly over London. As the afternoon progressed, though, the clouds began rolling in. After hours of discussions, Members of Parliament (MPs) were voting on the so-called Letwin Amendment, which would withhold approval of the deal, until it had been fully discussed by Parliament and the legislation passed to enact it. This would have the effect of triggering the “Benn Act” which would force the Prime Minister to request a further postponement of Brexit until 31 January. The rain started in Parliament Square, and the big screen revealed the tellers coming back into Parliament. Everyone held their breath, hoping that the ayes would have it. And so it was, by 220 votes to 206, a majority of 16. The square erupted in cheers. Prime Minister Johnson’s rotten deal, widely seen as being worse for the UK than that brokered by his predecessor May, had been delayed, if only for a while.
I hope that the pictures below capture something of the diversity and passion of those marching for a people’s vote, most of whom wish to remain in the EU. It was a wonderful example of democracy still being alive and well in the UK.
I have often been a critic of many of our MPs, and their failure to serve our citizens, but the quality of speeches by MPs and others from the platform today was of very high quality: passionate, committed, eloquent, accurate, and above all advocating the democratic principles that lie at the heart of our country. It was a very special, indeed an inspirational, day.
See also my reflections on the People’s March on 20th October 2018.
[In most instance where I photographed an individual close up so that they are easily recognisable, I specifically asked if I could share the picture on social media and permission was readily granted. It was impossible, though, to ask everyone in crowd scenes. Where possible, I tried to take photos primarily of people’s backs, but again this was not always feasible. Should anyone wish me to remove an image please let me know and I will do so. I do hope that none of these images cause anyone concern]