Premier May will trigger Article 50 on March 29
Tens of thousands of anti-Brexit demonstrators fell silent at Parliament Square to pay tribute to the victims of the Westminster attack.
Unite for Europe campaigners marched through central London to Westminster, the scene of floral tributes to those killed and injured in Wednesday’s atrocity.
Opening the event, Alastair Campbell said: “Before we talk about Brexit, before we call on any of the speakers, we need to recognise that something really bad happened not far from here just the other day.”
Campaigners stood with their heads bowed for a minute-long silence yesterday, with the only sound the chiming of Big Ben.
Between 25,000 and 100,000 demonstrators attended the event, calling for Britain to remain in the European Union – just days before Theresa May triggers Article 50 to begin the exit process on March 29.
The sunny square was filled with protesters, many draped in the European flag and waving banners aloft, including a number declaring: “We are not afraid”. Another sign read: “I’m 15 I want my future back!”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron addressed the crowd, insisting “democracy continues” and adding: “We stand in defiance of that attack.”
Lib Dem former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, Labour MP David Lammy and Green co-leader Jonathan Bartley were also among those addressing the crowd.
Organisers refused to call off the event after the attack earlier this week, saying in a statement: “We will not be intimidated. We will stand in unity and solidarity. We will march on the heart of our democracy and reclaim our streets in honour and respect of those that fell.”
The march coincides with the EU’s 60th anniversary celebrations in Rome, where leaders of the other 27 member states will gather to discuss plans for the future of the union without the UK.
More than a thousand campaigners took to the street in Edinburgh in a simultaneous protest organised by the city’s Young European Movement.
Marchers gathered in the city centre before heading to the Scottish Parliament, waving EU and Scottish flags and carrying placards reading “We want EU to stay” and “In business lying is a crime, why not in politics?”
Among those giving speeches were Green MSP Ross Greer, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP from the Liberal Democrats, SNP MPs Tommy Sheppard and Joanna Cherry.
Young European Movement Edinburgh chairman Jean Francois-Poncet said the march was to protest against Brexit and commemorate 60 years of the European Union.
He said: “We want to raise the issue in British and Scottish people’s lives that you have lies in the referendum campaign that people were not held accountable for and, whether you voted Remain or Leave, that is a real issue.”
Police said that “an appropriate policing plan is in place” but an AFP reporter said security was discreet.
In a referendum on June 23, Britons voted by 52 percent to end their four-decade membership of the EU.
But 48 percent voted to stay – and are unhappy with May’s plans to leave the EU’s single market in order to cut immigration, and her refusal to guarantee the rights of three million Europeans living in Britain.
“I was told I could settle down, marry a Brit and make my life here,” said Joan Pons, a Spanish nurse who has lived in Britain for 17 years.
“Yet today I am told I’m a foreigner and should go back where I come from.”
On Wednesday, the prime minister will trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, starting a two-year countdown to Britain’s exit.
She declined to attend celebrations in Rome on Saturday marking the EU’s creation, when six founding states signed the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957.
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