Speech at Peoples Vote march – 19/10/2019


I bring you a message from the North. My North. Newcastle.  There’s a lot of talk Northern working class, well that’s how I grew up,  just like everyone on my Council Estate. I am proud of where I come from, the community that raised me, and the solidarity that is in the air we breath.  I benefited from that strength of community and yes, I was also marked at times by the racism that runs through so much of our society, working, middle and upper class.

I am tired now. I am tired of the idea that Brexit is the North’s fault, when it was two southern public school boys who led the campaign. I am tired of the idea that the North is the home of political conservatism and xenophobia when we built the trade union, cooperative, fair trade and internationalist movements. I am tired of the idea that the Brexit Referendum was marked by stupidity on the one hand and virtue on the other.

I respect the reasons people voted to leave.  The destruction of our industry. Austerity. Poverty. David Cameron.  The idea that things would could go on as they were when they were going so wrong for so many.

As a country, to decide our future we need to respect and understand each other.

We have learnt that, since 2016

And that is why we need another vote.

Because we  have ALL learnt so much since 2016. How our European supply chains work. Who buys our lamb…. The damage any Brexit will do. And especially this sell-out Brexit,  Boris Johnson’s  Trojan horse for No Deal, a race to the bottom to exploit the people at the bottom, for the benefit of billionaires & big business, and deny climate change.

We know what this is about now. It’s a choice. Between being an equal partner in the European community of nations or the lapdog of other superpowers — Putin, Trump, almost certainly Trump. Johnson is Trump’s  Apprentice and everything is for sale.  

Well not us. Every day ships leave the port of Tyne taking our goods to our friends in the European Union. We share trade but we also share values, we share freedoms, we share ties of blood, of work, of love.

My friends, today is a historic day.  Not because of what happened in there, though that was pretty important. But because of you, all of you, marching here for a #FinalSay.  And for much more than that.   Our  true enemies as a nation are not European immigrants or Brussels regulation but hatred greed and lies.  Today we start a movement to win the real prize – a peoples’ Britain in a  democratic Europe.  Together.  Now. Let’s win it!

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