Sian Berry: Why I’m marching for a People’s Vote on Brexit

“This is the deal that will define a generation, and we’ve only a few months left to bring Britain back from the brink.” With the People’s Vote March for the Future taking place in London today (20 October), Green Co-leader Sian Berry sets out why it’s now or never to make our voices heard on the future of the UK.

Sian Berry
Sian Berry
Sian Berry

Last June, I marched with the biggest Green bloc I have seen since the 2003 protest against the Iraq war. What has mobilised us in such numbers? Our demand for a People’s Vote on the final terms of the Brexit negotiations. This is the deal that will define a generation, and we’ve only a few months left to bring Britain back from the brink.

Today, I am marching again for the same cause, in what looks likely to be an even bigger Green bloc in an even bigger march, and I’ve never been more optimistic that we will win. Since we last took to the streets, the government has collapsed into an even deeper chasm of chaos and infighting about the negotiations with the EU. In contrast, our campaign has gone from strength to strength. A People’s Vote is at our fingertips, and today we will take another step towards it.

Earlier this year, the People’s Vote campaign published their roadmap to securing the final say. There are several paths outlined, but all roughly hover around two broad sets of circumstances: enough MPs demand a People’s Vote, or Theresa May gets tied into knots, and grabs onto the People’s Vote as a way of hoisting herself out of the quicksand. Both circumstances rest on two assumptions: the broad support of the opposition, and the broad support of the people. On both fronts, we have made incredible progress since last June.

The biggest moment of all was arguably Labour Conference, which followed months of dedicated work from grassroots activists in groups like the amazing Another Europe Is Possible, and a clear call from Labour in the London Assembly who backed my motion for a People’s Vote, quickly followed by the Mayor of London too. In the face of triangulation and capitulation from the Party leadership, Labour delegates pushed through a motion supporting the call for a People’s Vote in the absence of a general election, which marked a huge leap towards our goal.

"I am calling for a People’s Vote because I believe in real and radical democracy"

Meanwhile, in the public at large, support for a People’s Vote gets clearer by the week, with plenty to suggest that the more people see of Brexit, the less they like it. Polls also show more and more constituencies that voted to leave in 2016 would now back the reverse, while only a quarter of Daily Mail readers think Britain will get a good Brexit deal. When you’ve started to lose the Daily Mail readers, you know the Brexit sham is exposed.

I am calling for a People’s Vote because I believe in real and radical democracy. In the Green Party, we don’t think that democracy died on an arbitrary day in June 2016. We believe that the referendum was the start of a democratic process, not the end of one. That said, we are also clear that we want an option to Remain on the ballot paper, and that we would be proud to campaign to keep our place in Europe, if we get the chance.

Our campaign has the wind of public opinion behind it, but the reality is that time is not on our side. We have only a few months before the UK potentially crashes out of the EU, with no obvious prospect of the Tories pulling us back from the brink before then. We have a short window to secure a People’s Vote, and that’s why today, I am marching with so many thousands of others to make this clear demand. The future of our country is at stake, and I’m proud to lead a party which has risen to meet this moment.