Yesterday, the day I had been hoping for seemingly forever, was the day we should have finally wriggled free from the tentacles of the European Union. I stress ‘should’ because that would have been far too easy were it not for the fatal cocktail of power-hungry Euro-crats, unaccountable civil servants and a Prime Minster who I wouldn’t trust to negotiate my mobile phone contract.
Thankfully, the EU hasn’t banned organised protests yet, so Leave Means Leave (whose founder, Richard Tice, a lovely man, was at our Chairman’s Dinner last term) organised a march that, although it had started in Sunderland prior to Friday, would that day begin in Chiswick and end up in Parliament Square just as the Prime Minister’s ‘deal’ was to be voted on by MPs.
I was a tad late and hoped to join the group as it passed, and so I made my way to Chelsea Harbour. Upon arriving at midday, I must admit I heard the march before seeing it, and after no time this quiet residential street was filled with flags and placards and chants of Bye-Bye EU! It was like being in Cambridge again, except these protestors had preserved their original hair colour.
On we marched, at one point passing a building site whereby the hardhat-clad workers joined in the chanting and held their thumbs up in approval. Cars and vans and lorries beeped, and still the group had doubled and tripled and quadrupled in size, by now stretching as far as my eye could see both in front and behind. Housewives peered out of their windows cheering as we passed, and we cheered back. The atmosphere was electric, almost as if we had won the World Cup. I confess that I too was absorbed into this jamboree almost immediately, and yet I quietly wondered: what exactly was there to be so happy about?
We passed Victoria Tower and arrived in Parliament just in time. The Prime Minster had just been defeated yet again. ‘Hooray!’ the crowd cheered as we marched the final strait into Parliament Square greeted by other Leavers who had gathered there earlier. “Flags for a pound!” shouted one entrepreneurial wheeler-dealer on the corner of the square, children clutched their ice-creams, men and women were sitting on the grass and singing and waving their union flags. Think Woodstock meets Last Night of the Proms meets UKIP Conference.
The speakers spoke, both from the left and the right, with notable speeches from Ian Paisley Jnr., Kate Hoey, Claire Fox and of course our main man Nige. However, one speech which particularly comes to mind was that of Paul Embery, a self-professed socialist, who interestingly was the only speaker to open up the discussion to what would happen if we did not get what we wanted. “Civil peaceful disobedience” is what he urged us to cause if we did not get what we wanted, much to the audience’s pleasure, and it suddenly struck me how close this group was from turning so suddenly. Like a coiled spring, this seemingly innocuous group, filled with an eclectic mix of people from all walks of life, had the capacity to disrupt all forms of life in a burst of unexpected anger and velocity. If Theresa May had seen us, surely it must have dawned on her that to carry on in this fashion would have disastrous consequences.
I must admit, I had been rather nervous about attending in the days before Friday, mainly worried that Remainer saboteurs would violently disrupt the proceedings, but also admittedly that overzealous Leavers would add fuel to the fire by provoking them. What I found was entirely the opposite. I looked up at the sunny, cloudless sky (reminiscent of that wonderful morning on 24th June three years prior), and I couldn’t help but notice an incongruous joviality in the masses that was rather inexplicable. Today of all days, we should have all been angry, we should have all been despondent – the parliamentary establishment had just quashed our dream of leaving that evening – and yet the mood was strangely upbeat and energetic. It was almost as if we had believed what the media were telling us, that the mood was shifting to remain, that other Leavers were getting cold feet, and that this gathering had convinced us otherwise in a moment of sheer relief, relief and realisation that soon, no matter what the banks, the bureaucrats, the bourgeoisie would throw at us, we would win. We will win.