‘We are not going away’

Manchester Leavers marched on Saturday to commemorate Peterloo and stand up for Brexit.

Callum Breese

Topics Brexit Politics UK

As the People’s Vote march went through London on Saturday, and MPs voted again to delay the Brexit process, a group of Leavers gathered in Manchester to stand up for Brexit and the radical history of the city.

The march was organised by Leavers of Manchester. It was held in part to honour the 200th anniversary of Peterloo, when cavalry charged into a crowd of demonstrators who had gathered in St Peter’s Field to demand representation.

Saturday’s march began at Manchester Cathedral, where around 250 attendees – from across the north, old and young – gathered.

‘The reason we are here today is because after three-and-a-half years it is clear we have got a Remain establishment’, said Shanjan Usman, 27, from Bradford. ‘It feels like every day we are not living in a democracy, but more like we are living in an oligarchy.’

Steven, 35, a history lecturer based in Leeds, told me he actually voted Remain in 2016: ‘I thought that was the right choice. But some of the Remain activism I have seen online since the vote has really turned me off. So, I decided to come down and march.’

We headed down Deansgate and then on to Windmill Street, where there is a plaque commemorating Peterloo. There was a minute’s silence for those slain. One of the stewards, Mark, told me he is a descendant of John Lees, one of those killed in the massacre.

Beth, another marcher, was dressed as a Suffragette. She told me she finds female MPs who are blocking the votes of millions of pro-Leave women particularly disgraceful. ‘I find it so disgusting that the women in parliament pretend to stand up for the Suffragette movement’, she said.

On Saturday MPs were supposed to vote on PM Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. The deal got a mixed reception from those marching in Manchester. Jeffery Burge, 64, said he ‘will settle for Boris’s deal. It’s not ideal, but it could well be the best we can get.’

But others begged to differ. Inaya Folarin Iman, prospective parliamentary candidate for the Brexit Party in Leeds North East, said ‘it is not Brexit’. ‘Once we have a clean break, we are in a better position to be able to negotiate. There are so many problems with this deal – it splits up the union rather than delivers Brexit.’

The march concluded at St Peter’s Square – close by what was St Peter’s Field – with a series of guest speakers. spiked’s editor, Brendan O’Neill, spoke powerfully of those who gave their lives for democracy, and why we cannot let their sacrifices be in vain. The attempts to thwart Brexit, he added, showed that the establishment still feared the radical idea of democracy.

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, Brexit Party MEP for the North West, was also among the speakers. He is also a critic of Johnson’s deal, and worries Leavers are repeating the same mistakes: ‘It is very important to not do what we did after the result in 2016 and think “job well done, let’s all go home”. That cannot happen again. We really need to mobilise. We really need to fight. This will not be the end – this is only the beginning.’

Trade unionist Paul Embery paid tribute in his speech to those who voted Leave in the face of all the threats and insults thrown at them during the referendum campaign. ‘They have been attacked by the establishment, attacked by politicians and by certain liberal newspapers and commentators’, he told me after the march. ‘But they are standing firm and saying “my voice is important and you better start listening, and until you do we are not going away”’.

The marchers in Manchester, and the millions more like them across the country, clearly aren’t going anywhere.

Callum Breese is a writer based in Sheffield.

Picture by: Callum Breese.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Brexit Politics UK


Forlorn Dream

23rd October 2019 at 1:12 pm

We need a song to become our anthem. I’d like to suggest – Something Inside So Strong, by Labbi Siffre.

John Millson

23rd October 2019 at 10:44 am

Is it valid to conflate delays on Brexit with agitation in the past, especially bloody events like Peterloo? Surely there is a qualitative difference.

Jerry Owen

23rd October 2019 at 12:08 pm

John Millson
Where do you think this could all end .. you don’t know do you ?

John Millson

23rd October 2019 at 12:43 pm

Jerry Owen,
We don’t know, do we? I cannot see pro-Brexit demonstrators being attacked by the police, savagely and unprovoked, though.
(Talk of ‘picking up rifles’ and rioting is deeply irresponsible.)

Dominic Straiton

22nd October 2019 at 5:01 pm

“were not going away” .Well if PregerU lose against Google we will all be going away. Tucked away in a dusty unseen cupboard. Then what? Armed insurrection? . (ooh does that make me one of the old bills ridiculous “far right” terrorist conspiracies) . People have alway had to actually fight for their freedoms. From Thomas Jefferson to the beaches of Normandy.

Stephen J

22nd October 2019 at 4:00 pm

I believe that Brexit is a conservative act. I do not mean that in the same sense that the CONservative/Tory Party means it.

I reckon that most of us are conservative by nature, we wish to get what we have and hold on to it, whatever “it” is. We can be rich or poor, we can vote for that shambles that is currently supposed to be the government, or we can vote for the other lot, currently masquerading as marxists. The defining raison d’être as to whether we vote for mob a or mob b being our background. If we are a professional, or highborn we are more likely to vote tory and so on.

Historically, on the same day that those suffragettes became entitled to vote, so five million men got the vote for the first time, and because the tories had stood resolutely against them voting, the natural place for these mainly conservative folk to put their X was against Labour, who formed their first government just five years later. Those people then and their grandchildren today would never vote tory.

Nothing much has changed, neither of these conservative groups are that interested in the further reaches of those parties, very few people are either strongly socialist or strongly libertarian. Politics is just not uppermost in most peoples’ lives, which of course DOES NOT MEAN that they want their votes ignored, but they want to be able to cast a meaningful vote when asked.

Of course what many did not realise was that without telling us, neither of those parties is conservative any longer, they are both communitarian social democracies, which is an impossible position to take seriously.

So, conservatives from both traditions need a place to cast their next vote…

Personally I recommend The Brexit Party, which is small c conservative, led by the most effective politician since god knows when and manned by people from both traditions. everything from slick property dealers to nurses and cabbies. I believe there is even an ex-revolutionary marxist there!

So we need a general election, we need it soon, and if we really want to clean out the dross, we should go for that party and dislodge all those “Nick Soames’s”… You know the kind that have sat their fat rears on those green benches secure in the knowledge that come the next election they will still find themselves in the same place. They need to do nothing, just sit there and soak up the free gifts from “the people”.

Michael Lynch

22nd October 2019 at 2:15 pm

Yet there wasn’t any coverage of this on SKY News. London, and it’s media, truly does exist in a bubble of its own. Well the day will come, just like it did during the MEP elections, when they will have to face the music. I really do believe that the majority of people either side of the divide are appalled by the anti-democratic shenanigans of the Remain Parliament. Boris Johnson’s stock just goes up and up every time they make mischief. The irony here is that Remainer fanatics think they’ll get their way if they just keep ignoring the general public that live outside London and Scotland. Poor deluded souls.

Andrew Best

23rd October 2019 at 6:51 am

There are a lot of London leave voters, we are not all ardent remainers
But according to the media we don’t exist
But we do and we also hate this remainer parliament

Michael Lynch

23rd October 2019 at 7:51 am

Sorry Andrew. I was making a generalization and know there are large Leave numbers in London and Scotland. You have been completely forgotten by the Remain mob. What’s interesting about this situation is that Leavers are compromising and yet there is absolutely no willingness to do this from the Remain camp even though they lost the referendum! Especially in Parliament.

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